It was a solid test for PHM AIX Racing as the team and their all-new driver line-up began their work in earnest for the 2024 campaign.

Nikita Bedrin, Joshua Dufek and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak will embark on the team’s first campaign under the PHM AIX banner, and there are high hopes that the work the trio contributed to will stand them in good stead come lights out.

“We completed most of the test items. We’re starting out as a new team, PHM AIX is a new entity in full for 2024,” F3 Team Manager Kenny Kirwan said after the chequered flag on day three of pre-season testing.

“It was great working with the drivers, I believe there is some very good talent there and overall, we’ve faced some early challenges let’s say, maybe some teething trouble, which is normal for a new team and new operation, but everybody has worked hard.

“We’ve accomplished much of the prep work we needed to ahead of round one to ensure that Bahrain goes smoothly.” Bedrin, the most experienced of the PHM AIX driver line-up, was quickly on the pace, demonstrated by his 1:47.122 on day two, leaving him sixth overall on the timing screens.

Bedrin carries podium-winning experience in F3 with him to PHM AIX
Bedrin carries podium-winning experience in F3 with him to PHM AIX

A podium winner twice across his rookie campaign in 2023, Bedrin will be aiming to carry over his promising speed and accumulated experience to his new surroundings, something Kirwan expects will be no problem at all for the 18-year-old.

“Nikita is a joy to work with. He’s very technical and his feedback is outstanding. That experience he already has will of course, put us in good stead for sure.”

Joshua Dufek has prior F3 experience, albeit limited. The Swiss was driving for Campos Racing in the last round of the 2023 season, constituting some valuable experience he can take into the new year with his new team.

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The fact that he finished on the cusp of the points on his debut (P14 finishes in the Monza Sprint and Feature Races) bodes well for what 2024 might hold once he gains more experience.

His presence in the garage so far has been hugely positive says Kirwan, who expects Dufek to carry on from testing and continue to learn quickly in PHM AIX colours.

Dufek has also raced in F3 albeit for just one round last season at Monza
Dufek has also raced in F3 albeit for just one round last season at Monza

“With Josh, he’s a great guy and character. He is going to have it a little bit tougher but does have that one round under his belt, so at least has an experience, understands the locks and bolts of the operation and weekend. We will continue to work with him and iron out any mistakes from both sides and develop together.

Joining the aforementioned duo is Inthraphuvasak, who is currently racing in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship in PHM AIX colours and has done a solid job.

Taking two podiums across the campaign so far, the Thai driver has failed to achieve a points finish just twice in the 2024 FRMEC season.

The team has high hopes for him this year in FIA F3, and after getting his first laps in 2024 in the PHM AIX machine, Kirwan says the team has been very happy with his efforts so far.

“Taz, I think he has actually been a bit of a surprise for people on the outside but not for us. He’s been very strong all week and is now heading back to Dubai to carry out some extra racing duties ahead of the season.

Inthraphuvasak joins as a rookie but is competing with PHM AIX in FRMEC
Inthraphuvasak joins as a rookie but is competing with PHM AIX in FRMEC

“He’s a driver I think will surprise a few people and hopefully, we can end up in a situation where we surprise people along the way.”

Points scorers twice last year albeit losing one of those to a post-race disqualification, PHM AIX look well-placed to continue improving and fighting for points in 2024.

Kirwan says they have been working hard over the three-day test in Sakhir to ensure they hit the ground running. But at a venue as unique as the Bahrain International Circuit, it may be a challenge in the early phases.

Still, the team now has a year of experience to fall back on and the 396 laps they achieved over the course of pre-season testing will have produced a huge amount of data to chew through before lights out.