Multi-car crash in Round 6 retires a quarter of the field
The Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda delivered two action-packed rounds Saturday at Road Atlanta with two new faces emerging victorious. James Raven of Portsmouth, England, scored his first F4 U.S. career win in Round 5 followed by a brilliant win from Jose Blanco of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to close out the weekend.
In Round 5, Dakota Dickerson of San Diego claimed his fifth consecutive podium of the season taking second place and Benjamin Pederson of Copenhagen, Denmark, crossed the stripe in third but was later served with a one position demotion for passing under yellow conditions, awarding third place to Blanco.
Blanco shared victory circle in Round 6 with Raven who took second and Pedersen rounded out the podium in third.
“A big thanks to my team Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport for working so hard to find the right set up that put us on pace for a win this weekend at Road Atlanta,” said F4 U.S. rookie Blanco. “The competition was tough, and I really hope that everyone is able to return for Mid-Ohio.”
The final race of the weekend started with Dickerson on pole and Blanco’s black and neon green No. 32 Art-Draft Authority machine on the outside of Row 1. Raven and Jacob Abel of Louisville, Kentucky, completed Row 2 with F4 U.S. vets Pedersen and Austin Kaszuba of Bruleson, Texas, in Row 3.
Blanco got a good jump at the start over Dickerson. Dickerson, Blanco and Raven went three-wide into Turn 1. The trio would battle for position throughout the first lap, shuffling positions. Blanco crossed the line in first after Lap 1 and never surrendered his lead.
The fast-paced racing came to an abrupt stop after a multi-car crash in Round 6 retired a quarter of the field in the first lap. Speeding down the high slope of Turn 12, Kent Vaccaro of Plattsburgh, New York, and Teddy Wilson of Holbeach, England, made incidental contact, sending the rookies spinning on the tight front straight. The clash created a pin-ball-like reaction to the tight field, circling Arthur Leist of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, Cameron O’Connor of Johannesburg, South Africa, Eduardo Barrichello of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sam Paley of Cincinnati, Jacob Loomis of Corinth, Texas, Wyatt Brichacek of Johnstown, Colorado, and Chris Archinaco of Pittsburgh in different directions. Ethan Billions of Birmingham, Alabama, was also involved after being impacted by a spinning car and flying debris. His Group-A Racing No. 44 machine ricocheted off three cars before coming to a halting stop in the front-straight grass. Billions was transported to the on-site Road Atlanta medical center and treated for a concussion and bruised arm. He was released, and all other drivers emerged from their cars on their own power unharmed. Wilson was able to finish the race and while Brichacek initially continued, the damage his car sustained form the wreck caused him to retire after completing three more laps.
“The track’s medical crew were absolutely amazing. They responded instantaneously,” Billions said. “I have a massive headache and my arm is sore, but looking at the pieces of my car, I can’t believe that I walked away basically unharmed. I really think that is a testament to the engineering and safety design from Onroak Automotive.”
The extensive clean-up from the Road Atlanta Round 6 melee ate crucial time from the 30-minute race clock. Green-flag racing resumed with under 12 minutes left in the final round. Quick off the restart, Blanco built a gap between Dickerson, Abel, Raven and Pedersen. Dickerson, Raven and Pedersen squeezed Abel out of top-five contention, and the trio swapped positions multiple times over the course of several laps. Raven finally broke free to take second and Pedersen was shuffled to fourth. However, the fight in Pedersen wasn’t over. Pedersen caught Dickerson and the pair went two-wide into Turn 1 with Dickerson completely on the edge. Pedersen seized the final podium spot, leaving Dickerson to duke it out with series newcomer Justin Gordon of Lake Worth, Florida.
Gordon charged from 12th to contend for a podium position, overtaking Dickerson for fourth and setting the fastest time in the penultimate lap, only to be eclipsed by Pedersen. On the final lap, Dickerson paid back the favor and stole fourth, his worst finish this season to date.
“I’m super happy with the weekend. We got points every race, even though it wasn’t from the top step each time,” said Pedersen. “The racing was really good this weekend and I’m looking forward to carrying this pace onto Mid-Ohio.”
In Round 5, Pedersen started inside on pole with Dickerson on the outside. Raven and Blanco started in Row 2. Dickerson got the jump on Pedersen, taking the lead in the first lap. Raven was tight on Dickerson’s gearbox crossing the line and midway through Lap 2 slipped into P1. A full course yellow emerged due to an oil spill which covered a large portion of the track. The widespread oil clean-up plagued the clock, forcing the race to end under yellow conditions for the first time this season.
“I would have loved to have went green for a few more laps there at the end, because no one really wants to win under yellow, especially their first time winning, but we will take it,” said Raven, who took a second place finish the day before. “We had the speed at VIR to win, but I couldn’t keep the car on track. I’m glad that I was able to repay DEForce Racing for all the hard work they’ve put in behind the scenes. This is the first win of many.”
Joshua Car of Sydney, Australia, was presented with the Sabelt Hard Charger award after gaining 26 positions over the course of the weekend, and Christian Rasmussen of Copenhagen, Denmark, clocked the fastest lap in qualifying to claim the Cameron Das Fast Qualifier Award presented by Worldeye.
The F4 U.S. drivers return to action June 28-July 1 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Formula Race Promotions. For full race results and photos from Road Atlanta visit F4USChampionship.com.