It was a tight race for the drivers competing in Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda’s race one at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on Saturday afternoon. In fact, it was the closest finish of the year with just 0.038s separating the top-two drivers as they crossed the line on their Hankook Tires. Lochie Hughes crossed the line first in his No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD) / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4, but it was Ryan Shehan in the No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports Ligier JS F4 who was declared the winner following a stewards’ decision after the race. The result marked Shehan’s first career F4 U.S. win.
Lochie Hughes secured the pole for race one during Saturday morning’s qualifying session. The 20-year-old Australian got a clean start and jumped away to lead the field. Breaking away with him were Shehan and Bryson Morris (No. 39 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4). While the three raced closely throughout the entire 30 minutes—they were still within a second of each other as the race passed the halfway point—their positions on track never changed despite Shehan’s repeated attempts at a pass.
Noah Ping (No. 65 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4) and Gabriel Fonseca (No. 76 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) spent most of the race running fourth and fifth, respectively, but contact between the two on lap 15 led to a full-course yellow and their retirement from the race. Race director, Scott Goodyear, called for a red flag during cleanup, which allowed the field to re-stack for a five-minute shootout.
As Hughes led the field to the green, it was determined by stewards that he accelerated too soon, thus making a false start and resulting in a 5s penalty issued retroactively after the race.
In the final running order, Shehan led teammate Morris, followed by Louka St-James (No. 98 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4), Alex Berg (No 08 Doran-Kroll Competition Ligier JS F4) and Earl Tucker (No. 5 JHDD / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4), who was making his F4 U.S. debut. Hughes was officially scored sixth, 4.962s behind the winner.
F4 U.S. returns to the track Sunday for race two at 9:30 a.m. ET, followed by race three at 1:40 p.m. ET. For updates throughout the weekend, follow F4 U.S. on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates, or use Race Monitor to follow live timing and scoring.