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F4 U.S. & FR Americas Championship 2023 Season Kicked Off at NOLA
Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) and Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) have opened their 2023 seasons at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., for the second year in a row.
Carl Bennett Secures His First-Career F4 U.S. Win in NOLA Season Opener
Carl Bennett secured his first Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) win in the season-opening race at NOLA Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon. Kicking off his second season in F4 U.S., the result marked Bennett’s first-career podium finish in the series.
“This is my first win with formula cars, and that was just amazing,” said Bennett from the podium. “That was quite the battle that I had on the last lap. I’m still a little breathless right now. Just an amazing day.”
Michael Costello (No. 19 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4) left the starting grid from the first position, but an incident on first lap relegated him to the seventh position by the time the field came back around to complete lap 1. Meanwhile, Daniel Cara (No. 10 Tenuta Foppa & AmbrosiLigier JS F4) rolled off from the seventh position, but he quickly climbed his way up to second with a strong start off the line. By lap 3, Cara took over the lead and paced the field for three laps before contact and a spin in Turn 2 relegated him to the sixth position.
Jimmie Lockhart Claims First F4 U.S. Win in Race 2 at NOLA
Jimmie Lockhart stepped atop the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) podium for the first time in his career in Race 2 at NOLA Motorsports Park on Sunday morning. The Floridian started from the pole position in his No. 48 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4 after setting the fastest lap in yesterday’s race, and led all the way from lights to checkered.
“It’s amazing,” said Lockhart after the victory. “I finally got the opportunity to get out here, and was able to keep it up front the whole race. I just ran quali laps the whole time, so that was how it went. I was disappointed with what happened on the start yesterday, but I was able to come in, drop to the back, and just run a good lap to be able to start today’s race up front. That was probably what helped us the most today.”
Jesse Lacey (No. 16 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) also had a solid race, starting in second and holding his position from the start of the race all the way to the checkered flag. The action really heated up for third through 10th place, with drivers often racing two and three wide while jockeying for position. Patrick Woods-Toth (No. 27 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) found himself in a few of those intense battles, racing side by side with Michael Costello (No. 19 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4), Frankie Mossman (No. 6 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4), and Lewis Hodgson (No. 30 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports Ligier JS F4) throughout the final minutes of the race.
Jimmie Lockhart Secures Second F4 U.S. Win at NOLA SpeedTour
Jimmie Lockhart went two-for-two in Sunday’s Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) competition, securing the victory in Race 3 after winning Race 2 earlier in the day.
“Our first race this weekend was pretty unlucky, but to come back to get two wins today is pretty good,” said Lockhart from the podium. “In both races, we were able to just get out early and drive away with it. Great car; great race. It ran really well.”
Michael Costello (No. 19 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4) started the race from the pole and jumped ahead of the field. The rookie driver held the position, but was no match for Lockhart (No. 48 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4), who quickly closed in after starting the race fourth. In fact, it only took until Turn 4 on the second lap for Lockhart to pull to the inside and complete the pass, overtaking the lead with over 22 minutes remaining in the race.
With a full-course caution slowing the field, the race resumed as it neared the halfway mark. With everyone regrouped, the competition heated up—especially among those who were racing for
second on back. Costello and Lewis Hodgson (No. 30 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) jockeyed for the second position. While they worked to figure things out, Patrick Woods-Toth (No. 27 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) quietly hit his marks just behind the two competitors.
Ryan Shehan Wins Season-Opening Race 1 at NOLA
Ryan Shehan won the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) season opener at NOLA Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old returned to America just a few weeks ago after spending the winter in New Zealand to race in the Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
With a strong weekend so far, Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) paced opening practice before taking the pole position in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. A quick jump at lights out placed him in control of the race before the field even reached Turn 1.
Nick Persing (No. 29 OPI Commercial Builders Inc. Ligier JS F3) held the pressure during the early laps of the race, but fatigue started to kick in for the driver who had already completed three track sessions in the 80-degree temperatures, including two Radical Cup North America races. By lap 8, Shehan finally opened up a 1.117-second lead, which he steadily grew lap after lap.
Shehan Takes Two-In-A-Row at NOLA; Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Sweeps Podium
Ryan Shehan has back-to-back wins in his first two Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) starts, as he took the win in Race 2 at NOLA Motorsports Park on Sunday morning. Keeping his No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3 at the front of the field from lights to checkered, Shehan won the race in dominating fashion.
“That definitely wasn’t easy,” said Shehan from the podium. “Nick was right behind me the whole first half; then I saw him just pull over—I’m not sure what happened. From there, it was just me and Cooper [Becklin]. I just did my best to maintain the gap to Cooper, and was able to get away with the win. I have to thank Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport; sweeping the podium just shows how strong of a team they are.”
Callum Hedge Victorious in NOLA SpeedTour Finale for FR Americas
New Zealander Callum Hedge took his first win in the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda on Sunday afternoon in the final race of the weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park. Making his FR Americas debut, the driver steadily improved throughout the weekend with a sixth-place finish in Race 1 and third-place finish in Race 2 before finally climbing atop the podium in Race 3.
Hedge (No. 17 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) lined up side-by-side with teammate Cooper Becklin (No. 19 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3), who was in the point position, on the starting grid. It was clear that everyone was there to win, as both Hedge and third-place Nick Persing (No. 29 OPI Commercial Builders Inc. Ligier JS F3) got a clean jump on the start and immediately went three-wide racing down the front stretch. Hedge pulled ahead to take the lead as the group entered Turn 1 and never looked back.
Meanwhile, Persing, who was competing in his sixth race of the weekend across both FR Americas and Radical Cup North America competition, settled into second.
The next rounds of the Formula 4 United States and Formula Regional Americas will be held on the same event in Road America on May 18.
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