Reigning Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda titleholder Dakota Dickerson hopped behind the wheel of his new Ligier JS F3 car during a two-day test session at Carolina Motorsport Park, and proceeded to break the track F3 testing record held by former IndyCar driver Rafa Matos by nearly two seconds in just his third session in the car.
“Dakota was outstanding during the test,” said SCCA Pro Racing General Manager Sydney Yagel Davis. “Rafa initially shook down the Ligier JS F3 last summer before the inaugural season commenced. Since then, we’ve updated the tires to Hankook Tire and increased the power by 30hp, among other things, to make the full package faster. This confirms that the improvements that were made over the course of last season really beefed up the speed and precision of an already ground-breaking design.”
During the test, Dickerson got acclimated to car, stepping up from F4 to F3 Americas.
“Driving the F3 Americas car was such an awesome experience. The car is very fun to drive,” he said. “The Ligier chassis has a ton of mechanical grip but also has a tremendous amount of aero, which will be great at the higher-speed tracks like Barber and Pittsburgh. Honda’s 303hp turbocharged powerplant gets corner to corner incredibly quick and has a very linear power application.
“At the test in Kershaw, South Carolina, the ambient temperature was close to 40 degrees. Regardless, our Hankook tires got up to temperature within a couple laps and maintained performance throughout the session and multiple heat cycles,” Dickerson added. “This entire package is going to allow us drivers to have some great racing throughout the year. I can’t thank Ligier, SCCA Pro Racing and the rest of its partners on putting together such a great program.”
Dickerson noted some key differences in the cars after stepping up from F4 to F3 Americas.
“There are two main differences in the F4 car versus the F3 car. The first is the amount of downforce the Ligier produces. It’s noticeable how much more grip the F3 car produces in higher-speed corners than the F4 car does,” he said. “Likewise, the braking is more efficient. The second is the Honda Civic Type R engine now includes the turbo. The F3 configuration of the Honda powerplant has nearly twice the horsepower, and it is very noticeable. Acceleration is incredible, which also means throttle application changes.
“What I found most surprising was that even though the car has a turbo, the power is very linear, having a negligible amount of turbo lag. Another key note that I’d say is different for this year is the Hankook tire. Both for F4 and F3 this year, the Hankook tire is going to allow drivers to push hard right out of the gate, which will not only create great races, but should also help with green flag time.”
As part of the new scholarship program developed to advance the F4 U.S. champion to F3 Americas, Dickerson received a one-year lease on the chassis from Ligier Automotive and to the Honda powerplant from Honda Performance Development. The scholarship also included a season’s worth of tires from Hankook Tires, waived event entry fees and a marketing package from SCCA Pro Racing and a $25,000 cash prize from Phillips 66. Contingency sponsors also included a full branded suit kit from Sabelt and custom champion’s watch from B.R.M. Chronographes.
“Dakota did a very good job and we were impressed with his speed,” said Ligier Automotive North America CEO Max Crawford. “The car ran absolutely flawlessly, and we were super impressed with the new Hankook tires.”
Dickerson and an expanded F3 Americas field will kick off the 2019 season at Barber Motorsports Park supporting IndyCar April 3-5. Dickerson is still in the planning stages for his 2019 plans and will make his team announcement at a later date. For more information on the F3 Americas season, visit F3Americas.com.