In a strong 22-car field wheel-to-wheel battles were had throughout the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda grid as drivers used the multiple slip-stream opportunities from the long straights at Virginia International Raceway to dice back and forth for position. The tow created on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit aided in three different drivers taking first-place honors for the third time this season.
“The slipstream is crazy at this track,” said Car after going from a fifth-place start to a win in the opening round. “We have three huge straights where we are in sixth gear for around 300 meters on each straight, but once you get behind another car, especially if they don’t have anyone in front of them, you gain about five to seven kph and it makes a huge difference. It can play into your favor, but it can also be a hindrance if you’re the one in front. So I’ve learned that here you always have to be on your toes and constantly checking mirrors.”
Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport proved to be the team to beat again this weekend with two of its drivers — Australia’s Car and Brazil’s Arthur Leist — both capturing victories during the Andy Scriven Memorial Race weekend. The team went on to collect six total podium results and the Sabelt Hard Charger Award during the three-race event, resulting in all four of its drivers being represented on the podium.
In Round 7 after a race-long battle, Car took first over his Crosslink/Kiwi teammate Jose Blanco in second and Kiko Porto completing the podium in third.
In the opening race on Sunday, Leist claimed the checkered flag as his teammate Car finished second and Christian Brooks rounded out the podium.
The weekend finale podium looked similar to the morning round on Sunday with the same drivers finishing atop the results but in a different order. Jay Howard Driver Development pilot Books seized the highest step on the podium, followed by Car in second and Leist in third.
“This was one of my best races in F4,” said Leist following his Round 8 victory. “I was playing with the slip-stream trying to pass drivers and the final two laps were so tough because the drivers behind me were so fast. I just want to think everyone from Crosslink/Kiwi they did an amazing job today.”
Starting on pole for the second time this season was Leist, who set fast time in qualifying to claim the Cameron Das Fast Qualifier Award presented by Druck, with Brooks sharing the front row for the F1-style standing start. Blanco and DEForce Racing rookie Guilherme Peixoto completed Row 2 with Car and DC Autosport pilot Teddy Wilson in Row 3.
As the lights went black, Leist lead the field away in the No. 18 Carnes Del Sur / LX650 / Providence Title Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport entry followed closely by Brooks’ red, white, blue and black Hotwheels-sponsored No. 4 machine. Bobbling the start Blanco tried to defend his position off the line, but Car was just too quick coming from a fifth-place start, entering into third off the block.
“Definitely not the best start for me today,” said Blanco. “These things happen and I knew I had to move on. I knew I had to work harder for this race to catch up with these guys because they are really good on the start and really fast. The best to Joshua for winning that one. We are looking forward to Sunday.”
By Lap 3, Car in the No. 9 Wright Drilling & Exploration Oil & Gas machine was in third after Brooks passed Leist and Car slip-streamed Brooks to take the lead. All the passing drama slowed down as a yellow brought out by a beached car grouped the cars back up for two laps.
On the restart, Car tried to get away from the pack, but a hungry Brooks continued to hunt him down. Brooks efforts were shortened, however, after dropping wheels into the grass later in the race, the California-native’s charge for first ended. Brooks recovered to finish just outside points-position in 11th.
Blanco, Car’s teammate, edged into second while Leist lost out to Porto who made it through to third all the way from seventh place right before a full course caution ended the session.
“I started number seven and the yellow flag definitely set me into position to challenge up front,” said Porto. “We used two new tires on the car and it helped with lap time to get us a better finish.”
Leist finished fourth with British driver Teddy Wilson taking fifth. Series newcomer Nicky Hays scored his first F4 points in his debut in sixth, with JHDD pilot Wyatt Brichacek finishing with his best results of the season in seventh. Dylan Tavella and Guilherme Peixoto placed eighth and ninth, and the newest Velocity Racing Development driver Michael d’Orlando rounded out the top 10.
Round 8 at VIR saw Puerto Rican Blanco start from pole in the Tiffany Blue No. 32 Art-Draft Authority car and Leist sharing Row 1 on the outside. Car and Brooks filled in Row 2 with Brichacek and Hays starting in Row 3.
Right from the start Blanco was under pressure from not only his teammates, Car and Leist, but also Brooks. At times, the trailing trio went three wide fighting for position on their way to catch first.
Blanco held the lead the from a hard-charging Brooks with championship-leader Car in close pursuit. A full course caution slowed the drivers up, and on the restart, Blanco lead again until an unfortunate mistake put him to the back of the field.
In the closing stages it was a battle between the Crosslink/Kiwi drivers Car and Leist for first. Despite the pressure from behind, Leist held on to take the checkered flag, his second of the season, while Car had to settle for second, finishing less than half a second behind his teammate. Brooks finished close behind in third.
The DEForce Racing pair of Porto and Peixoto finished fourth and fifth. Crosslik/Kiwi Driver Dante Yu stormed through the field, going from a 14th-place start to finish sixth. Blanco and Ryan MacDermid collected seventh and eighth, while Zoey Edenholm had her best race of the season starting from 17th to finish with her first F4 points in ninth.
Primus Racing Team rookie Josh Bethune may have had the best race of anyone on the grid. After a DNS from the opening round kept him from completing lap times, Bethune was forced to start 22nd in Round 8. He brilliantly drove through the field, overtaking 12 cars to place 10th.
“The Primus Racing Team worked overtime to get the car ready for today after we experienced some problems early in the weekend,” said Bethune. “It was a great race for us and a huge morale boost for the team.”
In the final F4 U.S. race at VIR, Brooks started seventh, but made it to the front quickly before the safety car halted his progress. He held off the chasing pack on the restart to hold a slender lead over Leist and Car for most of the race. Brooks held on to what was a breakout weekend to take his first win in a formula car, leaving Car in second and Leist in third.
“I was def driving as hard as I could,” said an elated Brooks after the race. “I made a couple of mistakes trying to push the car to its very max, and I’ve never been so happy to win a race. The Jay Howard Driver Development boys have worked so hard this weekend and they deserve this win.”
Yu wheeled his No. 47 Capri Tools Ligier to his best finish of the season in fourth with d’Orlando completing the top-five. MacDermid, Brichacek and Peixoto finished sixth, seventh and eighth. Matt Rivard finished with his best results of the season in ninth and series newcomer Sicheng Li ended his first F4 weekend with points in 10th.
After making 17 passes for the weekend, Yu was presented with the Sabelt Hard Charger Award.
“This was my best weekend in F4 so far,” Yu said. “Everything is starting to come together and we keep getting closer to the podium, thanks to my Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport team.”
The F4 U.S. Championship drivers have a quick turnaround to the next event, supporting the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Aug. 8-10. For videos, photos and full results, visit F4USChampionship.com.