It was a battle of the Danes during the opening round of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda at Virginia International Raceway Saturday, as Copenhagen-natives Benjamin Pedersen and Christian Rasmussen fought for the first win of the season. The wheel-to-wheel combat lasted to the checkered with Pedersen prevailing by a nose. Rasmussen crossed the line .122 seconds behind his fellow countryman for a P2 finish and Dakota Dickerson of San Diego captured third.
“Today couldn’t get much better than getting a win in the opening round,” said Pedersen after earning his seventh podium and third career F4 win. “There are so many great drivers this season which gives that much more credibility to the series. I am really looking forward to Race 2. I know it’s going to be tough competition, but I enjoy that challenge. I’ve tried to make a mental note of where each driver’s weak point is on the track and will try and capitalize on that Sunday.”
Thirty-three F4 U.S. cars started the Andy Scriven Memorial Race. Pedersen seized pole and the Cameron Das Fast Qualifier Award after Britain’s Teddy Wilson, who clocked the fastest time in practice and qualifying, received a technical infraction prior to the race. Joshua Car of Australia shared the front-row with Pedersen, while Rasmussen and Wyatt Brichacek of Denver, Colorado, rounded out Row 2.
Hot off the standing start, Rasmussen pressured the front-row. Rounding the first turn, he whipped to the outside of Car, overtaking the Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport driver. Utilizing the draft from Pedersen’s orange DirtFish Racing No. 24 Global Racing Group machine, Rasmussen stole first from Pedersen on the back straight. Gaining speed lap after lap, the pair challenged each other as the Jay Howard Driver Development pilot clinched P1 until Pedersen used the identical move, in the same place as Rasmussen to steal the lead back on the final lap.
“Ben was already using my draft to catch me before I got a bad exit off the Rollercoaster entering into the back straight,” the 2017 Danish F4 second runner-up Rasmussen said. “He overtook me, and I raced hard to reclaim my spot. However, I just couldn’t make up the difference before the checkered. Ben raced me clean and I’m looking forward to a rematch on Sunday.”
Dickerson, who started seventh overall, also got a good start off the line and quickly pushed into fourth before a short full-course yellow interrupted his pace. On the rolling restart, the DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports driver got position on Car, stealing the last podium spot from the rookie. However, Dickerson was unable to close the gap on Pedersen and Rasmussen, ultimately finishing the race more than 4.5 seconds after Pedersen. Car completed the round in fourth, and third-year F4 U.S. pilot Austin Kaszuba of Burleson, Texas, crossed the line fifth uncontested.
While the top-five drivers delivered thrilling action, the drive of the day went to DEForce Racing rookie James Raven of England. The Sebelt Hard Charger contender was forced to start from pit lane in last place after arriving to pregrid late. He quickly made up 10 positions in the first lap, and started picking off his competitors one by one to gain another 23 places before the end. In an amazing run, Raven went from 33rd to scoring points in seventh position.
“We had the pace in practice, but got a bad break in qualifying which resulted in my unfortunate Race 1 starting position,” Raven said. “Our goal is to keep the momentum going from this round into Race 2, and to capture the top step on the podium.”
The final two rounds of the Andy Scriven Memorial Race weekend start Sunday. Race 2 begins at 9:25 a.m. ET with Wilson starting on pole. The weekend concludes with Race 3 at 5:00 p.m. ET.