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FR Americas and F4 US titles up for grabs at COTA

Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) and Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) pull into Circuit of The Americas (COTA) for their final three races of 2023. Each competing in Rounds 16-18 at the Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour, the championships will join Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), the Trans Am Series, Prototype Sprint Series Association and International GT, as all six series crown their champions in the final SpeedTour event of the season. With over 700 cars being showcased throughout the weekend between the on-track competition, Hagerty Cars and Caffeine Car Show, and Corvette Invasion, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Schedule:

FR Americas Championship Powered by Honda

Practice 1:                   Thursday, November 2 at 9:15 a.m. ET

Practice 2:                   Thursday, November 2 at 1:10 p.m. ET

Qualifying:                  Thursday, November 2 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Feature Race 1:          Friday, November 3 at 9:15 a.m. ET

Feature Race 2:          Friday, November 3 at 2:45 p.m. ET

Feature Race 3:          Saturday, November 4 at 9:20 a.m. ET 

F4 U.S. Championship Powered by Honda

Practice 1:                   Thursday, November 2 at 10:40 a.m. ET

Practice 2:                   Thursday, November 2 at 2:40 p.m. ET

Qualifying:                  Thursday, November 2 at 5:35 p.m. ET

Feature Race 1:          Friday, November 3 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Feature Race 2:          Friday, November 3 at 5:50 p.m. ET

Fan Walk:                    Saturday, November 4 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Feature Race 3:          Saturday, November 4 at 12:45 p.m. ET

Fans will have an opportunity to meet the drivers from FR Americas and F4 U.S. during a special pre-race fan walk on Saturday afternoon. Join us on pit lane at 12 p.m. CT to get an up-close look at the F4 cars moments before they head out on track for their third and final race of the weekend. Meet drivers from both series, get free swag—including a complimentary FR Americas/F4 U.S. series poster—and collect autographs. Everyone is welcome to attend this free event!

You can watch the FR Americas and F4 U.S. races this weekend for free on social media with streaming available on the SpeedTourTV YouTube page (YouTube.com/SpeedTourTV). Live coverage on Friday and Saturday means that all three races will be streamed for each championship.

With 11 wins this season, including two in the series’ last outing at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), Callum Hedge (No. 17 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) continues to lead the championship standings. However, the battle isn’t as cut and dry as it once appeared—in fact, Hedge failed to score any points in the series’ most recent race after being forced to retire early from Round 15. With three runner-up finishes at VIR, Ryan Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) kept his championship hopes alive, leaving Hedge with only a 51-point advantage going into COTA.

Cooper Becklin (No. 19 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) was eliminated from championship contention at VIR, but the Oregonian still had a weekend to remember as he secured his first-career win in Round 15. The victory, paired with two third-place results, kept Becklin just 42 points behind Shehan. Oliver Westling (No. 1 JENSEN Ligier JS F3) remains the fourth and final driver with a chance of finishing inside the top three in the point standings. The New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) Round 10 winner ranks fourth, just 57 points behind Becklin.

Jake Bonilla (No. 20 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) will join powerhouse Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport to make his FR Americas debut this weekend at COTA. Bonilla has been testing the Ligier JS F3 car with Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport this year, and earned two podiums—including a win—in the car during a Formula Pro USA Western Championship event at Sonoma Raceway in September. Previously, the San Antonian competed in F4 U.S. during the 2020 and 2021 race seasons.

Manuel Roza (No. 12 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) and Cole Kleck (No. 11 Speed Factory Ligier JS F3) will both return to the FR Americas paddock just in time for the 2023 season finale. With neither driver having competed since Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June, Roza will return to his traditional No. 12 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport entry, while Kleck joins Speed Factory for the final event of the year.

Austinite Ryan Shehan will join three fellow Texans racing at Circuit of The Americas this weekend. Cole Kleck and Jake Bonilla can carpool from their San Antonio homes, while Max Hewitt (No. 39 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) will have the longest trip to make of the “local” drivers, with a 150-mile journey from Houston.

Hayden Bowlsbey (No. 22 Save22 Ligier JS F3) earned his first-career podium in the series’ most recent outing at VIR. A major accident during the closing laps at NJMP required Bowlsbey to rebuild his car during the 10-week break between events. With the help of his friends and family, both the driver and car were ready to race when the lights went out at VIR. Bowlsbey first entered F4 U.S. competition in 2019, and moved up to FR Americas with his family-owned IGY6 Motorsports in 2022. With 17 previous top 10s, Bowlsbey’s third-place result in Round 15 marked his first-career FR Americas podium—and the first podium finish for IGY6 Motorsports.

With 11 victories this season, Callum Hedge is currently tied with last year’s FR Americas champion, Raoul Hyman, for third on the all-time wins list. Another victory this weekend would break that tie and solidify Hedge’s standing as the third-winningest driver in FR Americas history. Kyle Kirkwood and Linus Lundqvist, both current competitors in INDYCAR, are tied for the most wins in FR Americas with 15 victories apiece.

FR Americas Scholarship on the line
The battle for the 2023 F4 U.S. drivers’ championship title is down to just three drivers. Patrick Woods-Toth (No. 27 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) currently leads the championship charge, while Michael Costello (No. 19 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4) and Titus Sherlock (No. 31 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) are tied for second, 66.5 points behind Woods-Toth. Alex Berg, who is currently ranked fourth in points, will miss this weekend’s event as he competes in England’s Formula Ford Festival with Team Canada. His absence leaves Jesse Lacey (No. 16 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4), hot off his first F4 U.S. win at VIR, to contend with Daniel Cará (No. 10 Tenuta Foppa & Ambrosi Ligier JS F4) and Augie Soto-Schirripa (No. 24 International Motorsport Ligier JS F4), who earned two wins during the VIR race weekend. All four drivers remain mathematically eligible to contend for a top-three finish in the final point standings.

At the conclusion of the season, the 2023 F4 U.S. champion will be given the opportunity to move to FR Americas in 2024 with support from Ligier Automotive, Hankook Tires and Parella Motorsports Holdings. In addition, the champion will also receive $25,000 from Honda Performance Development, along with several other prizes.

Five drivers will be making their F4 U.S. debut this weekend at Circuit of The Americas. Ariel Elkin (No. 18 International Motorsport Ligier JS F4) joins the field from the F4 Italian Championship where the Israeli driver competed earlier this year. American Barrett Wolfe (No. 13 Doran Motorsports Group Ligier JS F4) and Australian Daniel Quimby (No. 42 Doran Motorsports Group Ligier JS F4) both move to F4 U.S. after competing in the Formula Pro USA Championships earlier this year. Meanwhile, Zhanbin Jia (No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / LHP Ligier JS F4) will move to F4 U.S. after making his debut in the SpeedTour Formula Development Series just last month at VIR. Pablo Josè Benites (No. 8 Scuderia Buell Ligier JS F4) also used SpeedTour Formula Development to gain experience in his Ligier JS F4 this season and will move up to F4 U.S. competition at COTA.

Four drivers competing in this weekend’s event hail from the state of Texas. Daniel Cará will have the shortest drive to COTA, traveling 150 miles from his home in The Woodlands, Texas. Meanwhile, a trio of drivers will travel from their homes around the greater Dallas area to compete in this weekend’s event—Dallas-based Jett Bowling (No. 02 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4), Terrell, Texas’ Christopher Parrish (No. 83 Save22 Ligier JS F4), and Titus Sherlock from Prosper, Texas.

Several F4 U.S. competitors notched important career accomplishments during the series’ last round at VIR. Augie Soto-Schirripa earned the most points throughout the weekend with his two wins, while Jesse Lacey earned his first-career F4 U.S. victory. Kekai Hauanio (No. 29 N.E. Where Transport Ligier JS F4) impressed with a weekend where he continued to better his record for career-best finish—first earning a fifth, then a third, and finally a second-place result. Hannah Greenemeier (No. 74 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) also recorded a career-best finish with her sixth-place result in Round 14. Luciano Martinez (No. 91 Scuderia Buell Ligier JS F4) earned his first-career pole to lead the field off the starting grid in Race 2 of the weekend.

Story originally appeared on Racer