Survival was the name of the game in the opening F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda round at Road America. The legendary four-mile, 14-turn road circuit has challenged the world’s best racers for more than six decades, and on Friday nearly half the F3 Americas field fell victim to Road America’s taxing natural terrain.
After three restarts, Benjamin Pedersen took the checkered flag nearly eight seconds ahead of his Global Racing Group teammate James Roe Jr. but following a pair of post-race penalties, Roe was promoted to first and Pedersen fell down the pecking order to fifth.
Mathias Soler-Obel kept his podium streak alive, taking second while John Paul Southern Jr. finished with his first podium result of the season in third.
“Extremely happy to get my first win in F3 — obviously it’s not the way I would have liked to get my first win but in a series as competitive as this you have to grab them when they come your way,” Roe said following the news of his advancement. “Can’t thank my team Global Racing Group, Liger, Hankook Tires and Honda for all their hard work, and my sponsors CJJ Motorsport, Topcon, Vortex companies and Bennett law offices for their support.”
Soler-Obel showed his strength behind the wheel of his No. 14 Equidem Management VRD machine after sustaining substantial front wing damage at the mid-point of the race. After the Danish-Colombian pilot set the F3 Americas track record with a fast time of 2m04.259s, Soler-Obel started on pole. Leading the first lap of the race, Pedersen and Dickerson pushed passed Soler-Obel on the first restart. Dickerson and Pedersen made contact entering Turn 1, resulting in Dickerson retiring to the pits with mechanical damage. His GRG racing group feverishly worked to get his No. 72 Stress Engineering Services, Inc car back to racing condition. Dickerson returned late in the race, but it was too late to contend for a podium position.
Soler-Obel started to lose momentum after losing pieces of his front wing after the second restart. Nursing a wounded car, Soler-Obel won the battle, crossing the line in third, before being promoted to second following the race. The second-place finish marked Soler-Obel’s fourth consecutive podium finish.
“We had a pretty good start today,” said Soler-Obel. “I got pushed wide on the first restart and fell to third, then went back to second. After the second restart, I suffered some wing damage that caused the car to lose speed particularly in Turn 7. I fell back to fifth but worked my way back up to third for a solid podium finish. Today was about survival.”
Dodging several incidents throughout the 35-minute session, John Paul Southern Jr. finished the race in fourth, before being promoted to third. Southern has had a pretty consistent season, finishing in the top-five in six of the last eight races. Friday was Southern’s first podium visit of the year.
“Feels good to get back into the top-three, but obviously it’s not the way we wanted to get it,” Southern said. “Overall it was a pretty good finish and on Saturday our goal is to finish in the top to get a real podium.”
Blake Upton finished with his best results of the season in fourth with his GRG teammate Pedersen completing the top-five. Canadian open-wheel driver Antonio Serravalle finished sixth in his F3 Americas debut after losing a lap to an off-track excursion following an unsuccessful overtake for second.
As part of the NASCAR Xfinity weekend, the F3 Americas Championship drivers will regroup for the weekend finale on Saturday at Road America at 9:10 a.m. Central. Pedersen will start on pole with Serravalle sharing the front row. For full results, event photos and post-race recap videos, visit F3Americas.com.