Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour Event Preview: FR Americas and F4 U.S. Championship at COTA

Track Facts:
Circuit: Circuit of The Americas
Length: 3.41 miles / 20-turn road course
Race Direction: Counter-Clockwise
Podium: FR Americas & F4 U.S. series trailer in the Main Paddock, near Media Center


FR Americas Championship Powered by Honda
Practice:                       Wednesday, November 2 at 1:50 p.m. CT
Qualifying:                     Wednesday, November 2 at 3:40 p.m. CT
Feature Race 1:            Thursday, November 3 at 11:50 a.m. CT
Feature Race 2:            Thursday, November 3 at 4:15 p.m. CT
Feature Race 3:            Friday, November 4 at 11:55 a.m. CT


F4 U.S. Championship Powered by Honda
Practice:                       Wednesday, November 2 at 2:45 p.m. CT
Qualifying:                     Wednesday, November 2 at 4:20 p.m. CT
Feature Race 1:            Thursday, November 3 at 10:00 a.m. CT
Feature Race 2:            Thursday, November 3 at 2:00 p.m. CT
Feature Race 3:            Friday, November 4 at 9:15 a.m. CT


FR Americas Championship Powered by Honda


Driver Championship to Be Decided at COTA
It all comes down to Circuit of The Americas (COTA) to crown the 2022 Driver Champion in the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas). With 15 of 18 rounds complete, two drivers remain in the hunt for the championship. Raoul Hyman (No. 27 Bethesda Holdings Limited / Solomon Capital Enterprises / Oaklands / Kinross Ligier JS F3) leads Dylan Tavella (No. 14 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) by 70 points, and with only 75 points available throughout the weekend, Hyman could lock up the title as early as Race 1 on Thursday morning. It’s a tight battle on Hankook Tires for third place in the championship, with only 14 points separating Jason Alder (No. 77 Drive for Diabetes Awareness / HAKUN Ligier JS F3), Ryan Yardley (No. 78 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) and Nick Persing (No. 29 OPI Commercial Builders Ligier JS F3), who currently rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively. The full Driver’s Points Championship standings are available here.


Teams Battling for 2022 Title
The Team Championship battle is also narrowed down to two organizations with TJ Speed Motorsports looking to become back-to-back team champions, and Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport looking to earn their first FR Americas team championship after being three-time F4 U.S. Team Champions. With a 97-point lead, TJ Speed is favored to take the title, but with 129 points available throughout the course of the Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour, anything is possible. The full 2022 Team Point Championship standings are available here.


Winning History at COTA
One year after winning in his FR Americas series debut, Jason Alder returns to the track where it all happened—COTA. The 19-year-old from Cooksville, Md., is currently ranked third in the driver championship standings, and hopes to hold the position to receive 12 FIA Super License Points at the conclusion of the season. Drivers entered this weekend with previous FR Americas experience at COTA also include Dylan Tavella, Ryan Yardley, Nick Persing, Cooper Becklin (No. 91 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) and Kevin Janzen (No. 24 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3). In addition, Hayden Bowlsbey (No. 3 Save22 / Southern Linac LLC Ligier JS F3) and Mac Clark (No. 25 Future Star Racing Ligier JS F3) raced at COTA with F4 U.S. last season. Meanwhile, both Raoul Hyman and Oliver Westling (No. 2 Jensen Global Advisors Ligier JS F3) will compete at COTA for the first time in their careers this weekend.


F4 U.S. Championship Powered by Honda


Championship Battle Down to Four Drivers
Four drivers remain in contention for the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) title as the series enters its final round of the 2022 season at COTA. Lochie Hughes (No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development / CSU One Cure / Lucas Oil / Pelican Ligier JS F4) currently holds a seven-point lead over second-place Bryson Morris (No. 39 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4). With Hughes’ four wins and eight podiums versus Morris’ three wins and 10 podiums, the two have been close all season. Although a bit further back, Noah Ping (No. 65 Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS F4) and Ryan Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) remain in the championship hunt after their victories on Hankook Tires last month at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). Ping is currently 44 points out of the lead, while Shehan is 57.5 points back, but anything can happen with 75 points available this weekend. A full list of the 2022 F4 U.S. Driver’s Points Championship standings is available, here.


Three Teams Compete for Team Championship Title
The team championship points battle is down to three organizations, as Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport leads the charge with Velocity Racing Development (VRD) just 46.5 points behind, and Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD) trailing by 93 points in third. After winning the 2018, 2019 and 2020 team championship titles, Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport is hoping to earn their fourth team championship trophy, while VRD is hoping to make it back-to-back titles after earning the team championship in 2021. If JHDD is able to pull off the upset, it would be their first team championship. With up to 129 points available at COTA, any of the three teams could take home the hardware. The full 2022 Team Point Championship standings are available here.


Welcome Back, DEForce
Finishing the season strong with an entry list comprised of 26 F4 U.S. drivers, fans may notice several new names on the starting grids this weekend. Some of those new names will be DEForce Racing and their trio of Texan drivers. After winning last year’s F4 U.S. Driver’s Championship, DEForce Racing will make their 2022 F4 U.S. debut this weekend. With three cars entered, the team is known for their strength and fast cars in F4 U.S. competition. In addition to last year’s championship with Noel Leon, DEForce also fielded the 2018 and 2019 driver’s vice champions with James Raven and Kiko Porto, respectively. Austinites Brady Golan (No. 16 MSR Houston / Valkyrie Ligier JS F4) and Kory Enders (No. 19 MSR Houston / Valkyrie Ligier JS F4), as well as Houstonian Maxwell Jamieson (No. 18 MSR Houston / Valkyrie Ligier JS F4), will race for the Angleton, Texas-based team this weekend.

New Drivers for Velocity Racing Development
Immersed in the battle for the team championship, VRD will enter three drivers in the Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour to maximize their points-earning opportunities. With Noah Ping contending for the driver’s championship, he will be joined by new teammates Jacob Loomis (No. 24 VRD Ligier JS F4) and Ethan Barker (No. 12 VRD Ligier JS F4) for this weekend’s event at COTA. You have to look back to 2017 for the last time Loomis competed in an F4 U.S. race. With four podiums that season, the 22-year-old from Alpharetta, Ga., now spends most of his time working as a race engineer for VRD. This week, he will still provide the team with some engineering assistance, but his main focus will be on racing and securing points toward the team championship. Barker, a rookie, has competed in three F4 U.S. weekends in 2022, but all of those starts have been with his family-owned Barker Racing. This weekend, the Houston native will make his first start under the VRD banner. 


Seven Drivers Repping Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport at COTA
Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport has consistently had one of the biggest footprints this season in the FR Americas and F4 U.S. paddocks; this weekend at COTA, they’ll field an even bigger contingency of cars than usual. With 11 entries overall, including seven entries in F4 U.S. competition, it will be Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport’s biggest effort of the year. In addition to their full-time F4 U.S. drivers, which include Bryson Morris, Ryan Shehan, Lucas Fecury (No. 55 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4), Gabriel Fonseca (No. 76 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) and Maddie Aust (No. 09 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4), the Dallas-based team will also have two series newcomers on their roster – Cole Kleck (No. 11 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4) and Titus Sherlock (No. 31 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4). 


Future Star Racing Enters Maite Cáceres
Maite Cáceres will make the long trip from Spain to compete in the F4 U.S. season finale at COTA. Earlier this season, she was normally seen driving the No. 21, but this weekend she’s partnering with Future Star Racing to pilot the No. 88 ANCAP / Abitab Ligier JS F4. Cáceres, a Uruguay native, is currently in her first semester studying chemical engineering at University Ramon Llull in Barcelona.


Texans Take On COTA
Nine drivers in this week’s field hail from the Lone Star State, including three from Austin’s greater-metropolitan area. Ryan Shehan, Brady Golan and Kory Enders will all have the privilege of racing in their hometown while at COTA.  Making his F4 U.S. debut this weekend, Cole Kleck will only need to travel about 80 miles north from his home in San Antonio to reach COTA. After a successful debut at VIR in the series’ previous round, Daniel Cará (No. 10 Tenuta Foppa / Ambrosi Wines Ligier JS F4) from The Woodlands, Texas, will get a chance to showcase his skills in his home state. Houston’s Ethan Barker and Maxwell Jamieson will have the chance to come back to COTA—Barker has several National Auto Sport Association Super Touring wins at COTA, whereas Jamieson raced on the circuit with F4 U.S. last year. In addition, Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport teammates Maddie Aust (Mansfield, Texas) and Titus Sherlock (Prosper, Texas) will make the trip from their Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex suburbs to race at COTA.