With spec Ligier chassis, Honda motors and Hankook tires, the driver makes the difference in the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda. The most recent three-round event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex June 21-23 proved the theory that every driver has the chance to win, as the top step pf the podium was visited by three different winners .
“What’s great about F4 is that any driver can win in any race, on any track, no matter where they start,” said rookie Christian Brooks. “I’ve raced most of these drivers in karts, and we’re moving up the ladder together. We’ve built this rapport of mutual respect that equates to clean racing. Everyone races hard, everyone races clean and at the end of the day that makes the races great and everyone happy.”
In Round 5, Brazilian Kiko Porto (leading in photo above) claimed his second win of the season, with Californian Brooks visiting the podium for the first time after finishing second and Joshua Car of Sydney, Australia, keeping his podium streak alive, taking third.
In the finale, series Round 6, Car rallied to finish the weekend the same way he did in the previous event at Road Atlanta with a victory, with Brooks (second) and Dylan Tavella (third) joining him on the podium.
“We’ve had so much pace all weekend, but a few things just didn’t go our way,” said Car. “It’s awesome to get a win in the final round — just like Atlanta. It’s just full adrenaline right now with the crew — so amazing.”
Fresh off his first career win in the first race of the weekend, rising Brazilian star Arthur Leist (No. 18 Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport) started on pole for Round 5 on Sunday. Leist led the field for the second race of the weekend, but his good fortune from the day before was short-lived, sliding wheels off onto the grass in Turn 5 on the first lap, rejoining back in fifth place.
Puerto Rican Jose Blanco in the No. 32 Art-Draft Authority machine took the lead for a few turns, but suffered a fate similar to his Crosslink/Kiwi teammate, spinning off in Turn 14 and gifting the lead to Brazilian Porto with Brooks in the No. 4 Hot Wheels Jay Howard Driver Development car in close pursuit.
Once in the lead, Porto’s No. 12 Petromega DEForce Racing entry held its half-second lead over second-place Brooks all the way to the finish line, claiming his second win of the season. Australian Car completed the podium in third, his fifth podium finish of the season.
“We made some wheel and wing changes to the car from Saturday’s race, and now the car is perfect,” said Porto. “I am glad we were there to pick up the pieces once the leaders spun out. I am very happy with the results.”
Tavella and Leist completed the top five. Canadian Ryan MacDermid (sixth), Brazilian Guiherme Peixoto (seventh) and series newcomer Giano Taurino (eighth) all had their best F4 career results in Round 5 with Englishman Teddy Wilson and Kiwi Josh Bethune rounding out the points positions in ninth and 10th.
In the third and final race of the weekend, the F4 U.S. field was paced by the fastest driver in Race 2, Dylan Tavella (No. 14 Gas Monkey Energy Alliance Racing). Behind him were the hard-charging Brooks, Car and Blanco.
Tavella led until Lap 7 when Car pulled alongside, then slipped past into the lead. Left to battle with Brooks, Tavella fell to third as Brooks got past on the the inside line entering Turn 17.
In the closing laps, Brooks tried to reel in Car’s bright yellow No. 9 Wright Drilling & Exploration Oil machine, but Car held on for his second win of the season to take over the championship lead.
“The car was just incredibly fast today [and] we were just shy of the track record,” said Tavella. “But my tires started to fade, and the rear got away from me a bit which allowed Christian to catch me down the straight. It was a great day and I am happy to represent Alliance and Gas Monkey Energy on the podium.”
Blanco recovered from his incident earlier in the day to take fourth with Porto completing the top five. Rookies MacDermid and Taurino continued to build confidence behind the wheel, placing sixth and seventh, while Wilson, Bethune and Peixoto rounded out the top 10.
Brooks was awarded the Sabelt Hard Charger award for completing 17 progressive passes for the weekend.
The F4 U.S. Championship now travels to VIRginia International Race Complex for the Andy Scriven Memorial July 26-28. For more information on the drivers, teams or results, visit F4USChampionship.com.