COTA tripleheader to close out F4 U.S. and FR Americas seasons

COTA tripleheader to close out F4 U.S. and FR Americas seasons

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

COTA tripleheader to close out F4 U.S. and FR Americas seasons

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The Honda Powered Formula 4 United States Championship and Formula Regional Americas Championship seasons will come to a close this weekend as the drivers take to Circuit of The Americas for a tripleheader finale.

While the championships were originally slated to support the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix this weekend, which was canceled due to COVID-19, the F4 U.S. and FR Americas drivers will still carry the spirit of the event with them, utilizing the same 3.427-mile, 20-turn track and garages as their F1 heroes.

Both Hunter Yeany (F4 U.S.) and Linus Lundqvist (FR Americas, pictured above) clinched their respective championships three rounds early, securing scholarships to ascend up the Honda-powered racing ladder, but the runner-up placings remain strongly contested in both series.

F4 U.S. Championship

With an impressive rookie season that included eight wins and seven podiums under the Velocity Racing Development banner, Yeany locked up the season championship three rounds early, setting a new global FIA record as the youngest driver to win an F4 title. The major achievement earned Yeany a scholarship valued at $230,000 to advance to FR Americas in 2021. Locking up the championship early, Yeany will choose to sit out the final rounds of F4 competition.

With the title already his, Hunter Yeany will sit out the finale.

“It was a great season in F4, but this is just the starting point of my racing career,” said Yeany. “I still have a long way to go before I reach my final goal of F1. Right now we are regrouping to focus on FR Americas in 2021.”

With Yeany shifting focus to 2021, 75 points are still up for grabs in the three-way battle for the championship runner-up slot between Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport teammates: Jose Blanco, Dylan Tavella and Spike Kohlbecker.

Blanco found his stride in the final stages of the season, achieving his most successful weekend of his F4 career at Homestead-Miami Speedway with two victories and a second-place finish. The showing was just enough to catapult the Puerto Rican racer into second place heading into the finale, holding a narrow three-point lead over Tavella. But, Tavella maintains a more consistent record than that of his teammate’s, earning top-10 finishes in 13 of the 15 rounds.

With one win and four podium finishes so far this season, Kohlbecker is the top rookie campaigning for the Vice Championship. He trails Blanco by 33 points.

Rookie Cade McKee is the lone driver in the paddock piloting for a single-car effort. With two podium finishes for the season, the Iron Rock Motorsports driver has an outside chance of finishing in the top three for the season (109 points). But, as the only driver inside the top-five who hasn’t topped the podium, the Texas-native is looking for the victory that has illuded him all season to cap off his rookie season.

“I am very excited for this weekend — COTA is an awesome track practically in my backyard,” said McKee. “When we started out this season our goal was to make every lap of every race, to race smart and clean. Now, with multiple podium results and fast pace, our expectations have changed, we are set for a win.”

Drivers like Erik Evans (VRD) could also play a major role in the championship chase. Building off his winning momentum from the most recent round at Homestead, Evans is the only driver not campaigning for a final championship position to have scored a win this season, and has the potential to slot into podium position, stealing valuable points from the top contenders.

“Coming out of Miami with the success we had there, I have been laser focused on finishing strong, being mentally and physically prepared for COTA,” expressed Evans. “To be a part of the success that VRD has had in 2020 is amazing. The goal this weekend is to earn as many points as possible to see how high I can finish in the series title chase.”

David Barringer and Viktor Andersson will get a jump on their 2021 seasons this weekend.

Successfully moving through the ranks of development driver to junior open wheel pilot in the DEForce Racing program, hometown driver Barringer will make his F4 U.S. debut this weekend in front of his family and friends on the legendary F1 circuit.

“I am very excited to make my debut in F4 U.S. with DEForce Racing at CoTA, my home racetrack,” said Barringer. “We’ve been working together all year and I am ready for this weekend.”

Andersson made his first appearance with F4 U.S. virtually during the KCR Simulators Esports F4 U.S. Championship when the regular 2020 season was shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Andersson finished second in the online competition, earning a set of Hankook Tires that he will utilize this weekend as he slides into a real-life Crosslink/Kiwi Ligier JS F4.

F4 U.S. kicks off its season finale on Friday with a pair of 30-minute practices. On Saturday the day opens at 8:00 a.m. with qualifying followed by Race 1 at 12:40 p.m. Central. The weekend culminates with Race 2 slated for 8:00 a.m. Central and the season finale at 12:40 p.m. Central. All races will be live streamed globally at FanRacing.Live.

FR Americas Championship

FR Americas returns to COTA for the first time since its inaugural season back in 2018 this weekend with an expanded field of young competitive talent, most of whom have never raced at the famed F1 circuit.

“I am really looking forward to getting in the car on Friday at Circuit of The Americas,” said FR Americas driver James Roe Jr. “It’s a new track for me so that adds an extra element of excitement for sure. The track looks extremely technical with many sweeping corners and fast sections. It is a shame that we are not competing alongside the Formula One World Championship as part of the United States Grand Prix but once I have the helmet on, it is all about speed and results. We hope to end out the year on a positive note and will be aiming to build momentum towards 2021.”

He may have sealed an early FR Americas Championship title and the convenient Honda scholarship to graduate into Indy Lights for 2021, but that has done little to quench Linus Lundqvist’s thirst for success. The champion-elect wants to bow out in style as Formula Regional Americas draws to a close this weekend in Texas.

With three races remaining in the season, Lunqvist has the opportunity to tie inaugural champion Kyle Kirkwood’s win record of 15 victories in a season. Both FR champions will face off in Indy Lights in 2021.

“It’s great to have sealed the title prematurely, and it does put me in a more comfortable position with less pressure this weekend,” said Global Racing Group top rookie Lundqvist. “That, however, does not mean for a second that I’m planning to hold back! I want to finish this season off in the best way possible, both for myself and for my team, and the target is clearly to win more races.”

Second place in the championship remains undecided as HMD Motorsports rookie David Malukas holds a 61-point advantage over Newman Wachs Racing pilot Victor Franzoni.

Malkuas broke Lundqvist’s eight consecutive win streak at Sebring and then repeated that success in Homestead the following week with his second victory of the season. Malukas is the only other driver to top the podium this season.

Franzoni has finished half the season on the podium, with his best result at Sebring with a pair of second-place finishes. To reel in the Vice Championship, Franzoni must secure a win at CoTA.

”I am very excited for the last race of the year,” said Franzoni. “It will be my first time driving at COTA, so I’m eager to see what this track looks like from behind the wheel. It’s been an amazing year and I really hope we can get the win in this round.”

Grabbing podiums and adding to his championship points slotted Nicky Hays into fourth place. While the Vice Championship is out of reach, it’s still mathematically possible for the GRG rookie to finish as high as third in the season-long standings.

Reigning F4 U.S. champion Joshua Car and Jacob Abel are tied for fifth, with Car holding the tiebreaker with his three second place finishes in Virginia.

For a dozen of the FR Americas drivers this weekend it’s their first time competing at COTA in an FR car, but that’s not the case for Jacob Abel. Abel fielded the seconded entry for Abel Motorsports in 2018 in the USGP, just missing the podium with a fourth-place result. This weekend he’s aiming to close out the season on top, using his experience to his advantage.

“I’m excited to be going back to COTA,” Abel said. “It’ll be my second race weekend in the FR Americas car there, so we should have a bit of an advantage. It’s been a bit of a blur. We’re hoping to unload a really good race car and make the most of the weekend. It’ll be a tough fight but I think we can bring home some strong results.”

HMD Motorsports added Marco Kacic to its line-up for the season finale, joining its squad of Malukas, Logan Cusson and Kyffin Simpson.

While the upcoming weekend will be Kacic’s debut FR Americas event, the Canadian driver has been training with HMD since the beginning of the season, completing a series of private tests with the team in the Ligier JS F3 chassis.

“I am excited to join HMD Motorsports for the final event of 2020,” expressed Marco Kacic. “To watch their success this season with David Malukas, Logan Cusson and Kyffin Simpson, I am ecstatic to be part of HMD.”

Other notable entries from the competitive field are James Roe Jr., Dario Cangialosi and Jordan Missig who are set to end their seasons strong.

The drivers will participate in a pair of practice sessions on Friday before heading into qualifying late on Saturday morning. The first race of the tripleheader event will be run on Saturday afternoon (3:15 pm) while the second and third races will hit the track on Sunday (10:50 am / 2:35 pm). Live timing and scoring will be available on the series website (www.framericas.com) and both live video coverage and live timing of the races can be enjoyed on www.fanracing.live.

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