Battling extreme heat last Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda drivers pushed their Ligier machines to the limits, offering close, wheel-to-wheel action that has become the hallmark of the F4 U.S. Championship.
Christian Rasmussen commanded the 30-car F4 U.S. field, capturing back-to-back victories on the final race day.
“The effort my team put in for me to race this weekend was simply amazing,” said Denmark’s Rasmussen, who has the most wins this season with four. “It was great to finish off the weekend with two wins to catch up in points. A huge thanks to my sponsors Carta Leasing and REMA1000, without you this dream would not be possible.”
Dakota Dickerson started pole position for Round 8 with Rasmussen sharing the front row. Benjamin Pedersen and Jacob Abel started in Row 2, followed by Teddy Wilson and Conrad Clark in Row 3.
Hot off the start, Dickerson got the jump on Rasmussen and by Lap 2 gained nearly a full three-second lead over the Jay Howard Driver Development rookie. Feeling the heat from the approaching Abel Construction No. 22 car, Pedersen hit the curbing, sending his No. 24 car into a full 360-spin. Dodging the incident, Abel slid into third. The uncharacteristic misstep from Pedersen shuffled the Global Racing Group driver back to P11. Pedersen recovered, to finish the race just outside the top-five. Further down the line, Miller charged from a P8 start to overtake three cars in one pass for fifth.
Going into Turn 11, Oliver Clarke spun, collecting fellow Englishman Matthew Cowley as collateral. The new Honda Civic Type R F4 U.S. pace car emerged to pace the field for three laps as safety crews worked to clean up debris and extract the uninjured drivers.
Quick off the restart, Rasmussen challenged Dickerson for position. Ducking to the inside of Turn 2, Rasmussen cleared the pass to take the point. Unfazed, Dickerson quickly regained the lead only to have it snatched back from Rasmussen before the end of the lap.
Zooming around the 2.25 mile, 12-turn track, Rasmussen built a small gap from Dickerson, but on the final lap, his pace slowed after being trapped in lapped traffic. Dickerson tried to capitalize, using every ounce of speed he had left, but his efforts weren’t enough to hold off Rasmussen from taking the checkered by less than half a second.
Wilson crossed the stripe third, Raven took fourth with Abel rounding out the top five.
In the mid-season finale, restarts were the key to podium finishes. Raven started on pole for the final round with Dickerson, Rasmussen, Wilson and Eduardo Barrichello staggered behind him for the F1-style standing start. As the lights went green, Raven’s wheels spun on the greasy track surface caused by the blistering temperature. Exploiting the fault, Dickerson and Rasmussen swooped around the DEForce Racing rookie to take the lead. On Lap 4, Dickerson hugged the inside of Turn 4 while Rasmussen went wide for the pass to take first. Before Dickerson could attack, the first full-course yellow of the session surfaced.
Raven, still in third, got the jump on the restart, pulling alongside Dickerson in second. Forced to go slightly wide, Dickerson’s wheels dropped off the racing line into the marbles. Close behind, Wilson and Pedersen passed Dickerson as the DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports driver went off-course. Dickerson’s car never fully recovered from the incident.
“The end of the weekend was disappointing to say the least as we could’ve been on the podium but we will focus forward going into the next race weekend,” said Dickerson. “The team and I have put a lot of effort to get where we are currently, and we will continue to focus on what we can control to grab the championship.”
Another yellow flag bunched the group up for its final restart of the session. Rasmussen’s red, white and blue No. 6 JHDD machine drove away from the pack to finish the race more than four seconds ahead of Raven. Wilson finished in third with Pedersen taking fourth and Dickerson in fifth. Joshua Car, Braden Eves, Arthur Leist, Austin Kaszuba and in his best F4 career finish, Vincent Khristov completed the top 10.
Global Racing Group driver Parker Locke was presented with the Sabelt Hard Charger award after gaining 22 positions over the course of the weekend.
“Mid-Ohio was a very good and productive weekend for me.” said Locke after receiving a new pair of neon green Sabelt racing gloves. “I learned a lot and improved my overall pace. I focused on staying consistent and not making any mistakes throughout the weekend, which lead me to receiving the Sabelt Hard Charger Award at the end of the weekend. I am getting quicker each weekend and I am slowly moving up the field, as I got my highest place finish of 13th in the last race of the weekend. I am going to prepare as much as possible for the next few rounds of the championship at Pittsburgh and will be shooting for my first top-10 finish.”
The F4 U.S. Championship travels to the newly FIA-accredited Pittsburgh International Race Complex Aug. 3-5 for Keystone Speedfest. In a mixed sports car and open-wheel weekend, the weekend features the world debut of the F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda, the F4 U.S., the Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli (TA, TA3, TA4) and Formula Race Promotions’ F-1600 Championship, F2000 Championship and Atlantic Championship. For more information visit F4USChampionship.com.