In what turned out to be a two-lap shootout to the checkered flag, championship leader Joshua Car wheeled his No. 9 Wright Drilling & Exploration Oil & Gas Partner Opportunities Ligier JS F4 to his second consecutive victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda finale Saturday morning.
Aussie Car is the first F4 U.S. driver this season to earn multiple victories in a single event.
The Crosslink/Kiwi pilot’s drive from lights to checkers wasn’t easy as he watched from his mirrors 68 total position advances transpire during the 30-minute session, making Round 12 one of the most action-packed races of the season.
Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Christian Brooks claimed his third runner-up result of the year, while Brazilian Guilherme Peixoto continued his best F4 career weekend, finishing third.
“I was running out of ideas and ways to keep Nicky and Christian behind me,” said Car. “We managed to hold on for the last two laps. The whole race was crazy — everyone was all over me at every turn. I had to make smart decisions and was finally able to pull away there at the end. I hope we put on a good show for everyone.”
After setting the fastest lap time in Friday’s second round, Car started on pole with DEForce Racing driver Peixoto beside him in the front row. DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports driver Nicky Hays and Brazilian Kiko Porto filled out Row 2 with Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport series newcomer Liam Snyder and Brooks starting from Row 3.
Quick off the start, Car gapped the field until a full-course yellow slowed him down. On the restart, Hays allowed Car to get away as the DC Autosport driver was attacked from behind by Brooks, Peixoto and Porto. The side-by-side four-car battle continued down the back straight, until Brooks shook the DEForce Racing Brazilians. Going two-wide into Turn 1, wheels just millimeters from touching, Brooks made a move on Hays to take second. But, Hays paid back the favor on the back straight entering Turn 4. The battle between the two didn’t end there as Brooks stole the P2 spot back before the end of the lap.
“We finally got the car figured out after a tough weekend,” said Brooks. “It was a tough battle. Everyone was driving clean, but really tight, which makes the racing fun.”
Hays switched focus to Alliance Racing-sponsored by Gas Monkey Energy Drink driver Dylan Tavella, Peixoto and Porto, all charging through the field to the front.
With two minutes left of on the clock, the session went green for the last time. On the restart, Peixoto made a daring move on the outside of Brooks, going two-wide from the front straight into Turn 1. Brooks defended his position, but the battle gave Car the advantage to build a small lead.
Behind him, cars were trading positions, going two and three-wide into Turn 4. In one of the final-lap fights, Hays, who was strong all race weekend, was forced wide, spinning around the Key Hole. He recovered but lost valuable time and positions, finishing an unhappy 15th.
After a grueling culmination to the weekend, Car held on to finish with his fifth win this season as the series sophomore targets the 2019 title. Driving the No. 4 Lucas Oil/One Cure/ K1 Speed/CSU/Pelican entry, Brooks took second, finishing more than a second behind Car with DEForce Racing rookie Peixoto in third.
“It was a hard race,” Peixoto said. “It was a big fight between me, Nicky, Kiko and Christian. This was our best weekend of the season, and I hope to carry that momentum into Sebring.”
Tavella, Porto, Velocity Racing Development rookie Michael d’Orlando and Horton completed fourth through seventh. Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Hayden Bowlsbey put his first championship points on the board, placing eighth after a 15th-place start. In just his second weekend, Primus Racing Team series newcomer Sicheng Li finished the race in ninth, advancing seven positions from the start. Returning to the JHDD roster, Canadian Robert Soroka wrapped up the top-10.
Group-A Racing’s David Porcelli also had a mega drive in Round 12. Starting from the last position on the grid, Porcelli charged through the field, using the yellow flags to his advantage to place 12th.
Zoey Edenholm also had great pace for the weekend, making 16 total position advances. The drive earned her the Sabelt Hard Charger Award.
The F4 U.S Championship teams and drivers have about a month’s break before traveling to Sebring International Raceway for its penultimate event Sept. 13-15. For full results, event photos and post-race video updates, visit F4USChampionship.com.