Arthur Leist claims maiden victory in opening F4 U.S. round at Pittsburgh International Race Complex
Nearly one year ago at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport went down in Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda history as the first team to sweep a podium. Today the saga continued during the Keystone Speedfest for the Dallas-based squad as three Crosslink/Kiwi drivers celebrated on the podium.
Controlling the race Arthur Leist of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, drove the black and orange No. 18 Carnes Del Sur machine flag to flag to his maiden victory. Joshua Car of Sydney, Australia, captured his fourth podium of the season to take second and Jose Blanco of San Juan, Puerto Rico, rocketed from a Row 6 start to complete the podium.
“I feel so good right now after my first win,” said Leist. “I knew I had the pace to win, I just needed to put everything together. We are going to go back and review for improvements, so I we have a chance to repeat for another win.”
Brazilians lead the field during qualifying Saturday morning. Leist clinched pole position by sixth hundredths of a second, holding off championship points leader Kiko Porto of Recife, Brazil. With a fast time of 1:41.713, Leist nearly beat the qualifying track record he set last year.
On the Formula 1-style standing start, pole-sitter Leist got the jump on Porto. Porto challenged Leist for the first few laps until the DEForce Racing driver was forced to switch his focus from taking lead to defending his position from a faster Car. Shooting from the inside to the outside of Porto, Car passed the No. 12 Petromega car exiting Turn 17. During the battle for second, Leist managed to pull a gap, finishing the race nearly five seconds ahead his Crosslink/Kiwi teammate.
“It was a great race and a great move got me up here,” said Car. “We have a few minor fixes we are going to make so I can challenge for the top space tomorrow.”
Porto fell to third, constantly fending off competitors from behind. His efforts were successful until Blanco flew to the front from an 11th-place start, challenging Porto for the final podium spot. The two jostled for position for several laps. Through three turns, the pair of sophomore drivers wheeled side-by-side. Weaving from the inside to the outside of Porto, Blanco overtook Porto for third.
“Starting from the back is never easy,” said Blanco. “I just had to go as fast as I could to pass everyone in front of me. I had so much fun driving out there today and the battle that I had with Kiko was good. Kiko was difficult to pass. He knows how to defend himself but our relentlessness paid off. Tomorrow is another day and I feel good about the position I am in. I should be right in there for the win.”
After a hard-fought race, Porto finished fourth with Teddy Wilson of South Luffenham, England, completing the top-five.
With grids for Sunday’s Round 5 determined by drivers’ in-race fastest times, Leist claimed pole-position by one thousandth of a second over Blanco.
The F4 U.S. drivers still have two races remaining for the Keystone Speedfest with Round 5 starting at 11:10 a.m. ET on Sunday. The weekend event concludes with the final 30-minute round at 3:45 p.m. ET. Fans can follow live timing and scoring on F4USChampionship.com and live race updates on Twitter @f4championship.