A fleet of Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda drivers invade Virginia International Raceway for the third-annual Andy Scriven Memorial Race Weekend July 17-19.
Sixteen drivers from eight countries make up the grid for the first triple-header event of the season. The weekend honors the late Ligier Automotive chassis designer Andy Scriven. Scriven was instrumental in the Ligier JS F3 and bringing the first Halo-equipped chassis to North America.
Linus Lundqvist’s FR Americas perfect run in the season debut at Mid-Ohio netted the 2018 BRDC British F3 champion an early championship lead. But, this weekend the Global Racing Group rookie faces a challenging new circuit with hungry competitors nipping at the chance for victory.
“We had a perfect start to the season, surely, but I can’t rest on my laurels in this sport and I don’t intend to,” said Lundqvist. “I am absolutely certain that our rivals have done their all to close the gap we enjoyed at Mid-Ohio. I will try to go for wins again, of course, but I do expect a tough fight. It should be good fun.”
Although VIR is new to Lundqvist, the native Swedish pilot wheeled his No. 26 Paytrim machine to the top of practice times early on Friday, with a pair of fast laps. (Practice 1:44.419-seconds, Practice 2: 1:44.380-seconds)
“It is my first time around VIR and all I can say is it’s a great track and really amazing,” said Lundqvist. “Very happy with today’s results. My car felt mega here. We have some fine details to manage before qualifying tomorrow.”
A driver looking to dethrone Lundqvist from the top step happens to be one of his Global Racing Group teammates, Danish-American pilot Benjamin Pedersen. Pedersen is the winningest driver at VIR on the FR Americas roster.
In his last visit to the 3.27-mile, 18-turn track, Pedersen finished fastest in qualifying, setting the new track FR Americas record (1m43.486s) which lead to a succession of wins. Driving the orange No. 24 DirtFish machine flatout around the fast and flowing Virginia circuit, Pedersen also holds the record for smallest margin of victory at VIR in both the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (.122s) and FR Americas (0.534s).
Pedersen will have a lot of ground to make up from practice to qualifying, though, as his times in both Friday sessions were nearly a second off Lundqvist’s pace. (Practice 1: 1m45.108s, Practice 2: 1m45.315s)
“I’m really excited to be returning back to VIR this weekend with Global Racing Group,” said Pedersen. “We had very strong pace here last year with a near sweep of the weekend and we have worked extremely hard to be best prepared for VIR. We are learning so much every session. We took good advantage of the promoter test day and have some adjustments to make before qualifying on Saturday.”
After playing runner up to Lundqvist at Mid-Ohio in both rounds, HMD Motorsports driver David Malukas is on the hunt for his first win. Malukas’ best lap in Practice 1 (1m45.476s) slotted him mid-field, but in the final practice of the day, Malukas shot to the top of the lap times halfway through the 30-minute session. He held the top time for a few laps before an off in Turn 12 ended his day prematurely. That left the door open for Lundqvist, who laid down consecutive fliers in the final two laps of practice.
“After a short break since Mid-Ohio and with a bit more testing under my belt, I’m excited to try and do another good showing with the HMD Motorsports team at VIR,” expressed Malukas, who will mad his VIR debut today. “I’m ready to get going again and see what we can do with the ultimate goal being to win!”
Soler-Obel (Velocity Racing Development) had a break-out weekend last season at VIR, claiming his maiden FR Americas victory while also setting the track record for the fastest in-race lap (1m44.015s).
The Columbian driver faced several challenges at Mid-Ohio and is looking to rebound this weekend on a track that has been good to him in the past. Soler-Obel finished the day, turning his fastest time in the first practice (1m45.111s).
“VIR is a track the team and I are very comfortable on,” Soler-Obel said. “We’ve worked out the kink’s from the last race and expect much better results at VIR than Mid-Ohio.”
Other drivers to watch this weekend are Joshua Car (Crosslink Competition), Nicky Hays (Global Racing Group), James Roe Jr. (Global Racing Group) and Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport).
Both Car and Hays were only separated by a tenth of a second in the opening practice while Frost and Roe Jr. traded positions several times in the final practice.
New to the field this weekend are Relentless Motorsports and its drivers Mitch Egner and Andrew Dobbie. The first full Canadian FR Americas squad missed the season opener due to boarder restrictions, but are eager to get to work at VIR.
“I am just glad to be here with everything going on in the world,” Dobbie said. “We were finally able to make it through the boarder. It’s a big day for the team since it’s the first race weekend for us. I am super happy and anxiously excited for Saturday.”
A field of 16 drivers open Saturday with a 30-minute qualifying (10:25 a.m. Eastern) with Race 1 at 2:55 p.m. Eastern. The Andy Scriven Memorial Race weekend culminates on Sunday with two 35-minute rounds of racing (10:35 a.m. Eastern and 3:05 p.m. Eastern). All three races will be streamed worldwide available at FANRacing.Live.
For live timing, full race results and more information on FR, visit FRAmericas.com. For post-race video highlights follow FR Americas on Twitter (@FR_Americas), Instagram (@framericas) and Facebook (@framericas).