More than a dozen new and returning talents from around the world are slated for the second season of F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda, commencing Friday at Barber Motorsports Park. The full field of eligible inaugural competitors return to support the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama April 5-7, including Jacob Abel, Baltazar Leguizamon, Parker Locke, Benjamin Pedersen and John Paul Southern.
“We are extremely pleased to see so many drivers from the first season return to the F3 Americas. It is a testament to the quality, performance and affordability of the program,” said SCCA Pro Racing General Manager Sydney Yagel Davis. “With such a diverse and talented field, the fans can expect close results this season.”
F3 Americas 2018 runner-up Baltazar Leguizamon was the first series sophomore to confirm a full-season campaign with Global Racing Group. The Argentinian-native fostered a deal with the multi-platform team determined to be the first international driver to win the F3 Americas Championship.
“Global Racing Group and I were strong last season and with the improvements we’ve made in the off-season I know we can win the championship this year. My goal is to be the first international champion of the series,” Leguizamon, who lead GRG to the podium 14 times last year, said. “Drivers from abroad, like me, are attracted to F3 Americas because its growing rapidly, filled with a lot of talent and supported by the FIA so we can earn Super License Points to progress into Formula One or IndyCar.”
John Paul Southern Jr. of Westlake, Ohio, leads the assault for Southern Motorsports in the carbon black No. 61 Pittsburgh International Race Complex Ligier JS F3. Progressing from the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda 2017 season, Southern finished fifth overall in the inaugural F3 Americas championship with three podiums and five top-10 results.
“I’m very excited to compete in my second season of F3 Americas. The team and I have been working extremely hard to make this season possible,” Southern said. “With a great schedule and more competitive field than last season, the SCCA Pro Racing, Ligier Automotive, Honda and Hankook Tires set up a great second season for the drivers. I am ready to bring on 2019.”
Completing the four-car GRG grid for Barber, is Danish-American driver Benjamin Pedersen. Splitting his time between the British BRDC F3 Championship and F3 Americas, Pedersen will drive select races, wheeling the bright orange No. 24 DirtFish Rally Global Racing Group car. Not originally entered in the season opener, the 2018 third-overall F3 Americas champion stepped in last minute after his teammate Blake Upton suffered a minor injury during a team test earlier this week.
“The IndyCar weekend provides great visibility, and with a test day built into the schedule, it gives me plenty of extra seat time,” said Pedersen. “While the conditions of my return aren’t ideal, I am looking forward to being back with the Global Racing Group squad. We had great success last season, especially in the COTA finale, and I’m excited to carry that momentum into this year. We want to get that win for Blake.”
F3 Americas defending team champions Abel Motorsports called back Jacob Abel of Louisville, Kentucky, for another partial season in the budding open-wheel series. With the goal of advancing into IndyCar, developing on one of the series’ steadfast venues is crucial to Abel’s ascend through the echelons of motorsport.
“I’ve missed being in the F3 race car,” Abel said. “The platform we have, the Ligier JS F3 chassis and the turbocharged Honda engine, is terrific. I love driving the car. It suits my driving style, and we’re looking forward to picking up where we left off at the end of last season. It’s important, too, for me to get some seat time and laps at Barber, one of the most important IndyCar venues on the calendar.”
Supporting the Velocity Racing Development colors, Texan pilot Parker Locke inked a late deal with the F3 Americas season newcomers.
“Everything came together so quickly. I am really excited to return to F3 Americas Championship for the opening race with VRD. Team engineer and manager Dan Mitchell is very professional and has put together a great three-car program,” Locke continued. “I continue to be grateful to the Global Racing Group crew for jump-starting my racing career. Since the F3 Americas season finale, I’ve participated in the TRS Championship in New Zealand and competed on the Streets of Saint Pete in Indy Pro 2000. My experience with GRG gave me the confidence to move ahead and advance in my racing career. I look forward to being back in the F3 car and reconnecting with SCCA Pro, my fellow F3 competitors and everyone else involved with the series!”
A fleet of Ligier JS F3 cars, powered by a 303hp Honda Civic Type R engine and equipped with Hankook tires, take on Barber Motorsports Park’s scenic 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course with two practice sessions on Friday, followed by an autograph session in the Fan Zone from 2:30-3:00 p.m. CT. Qualifying on Saturday starts at 8:05 a.m. CT with the first installment of the doubleheader weekend kicking off at 11:45 a.m. CT. The weekend finale commences Sunday at 8:30 a.m. CT. For more information on drivers, teams or the championship visit F3Americas.com.