MILLVILLE, N.J. (July 29, 2023) – Oliver Westling secured his first-career Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) win with a breakthrough performance in Race 1 at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on Saturday. The Swedish-born driver had a perfect launch from the starting block to take the race lead by the time the field entered Turn 1 and never looked back in a race that stayed green from lights to checkered. The victory was not only Westling’s first-career victory, but it was also the first win for his team, JENSEN.
Notes of Interest:
- Today marked not only Oliver Westling’s first FR Americas win, but his first win in any series on the Road to F1.
- The driver began his racing career in 2021, jumping right into formula cars through a testing program with JENSEN. Without any previous karting experience, today was Westling’s very first win in motorsports.
- The victory in Race 1 at NJMP marked the JENSEN team’s first win in either FR Americas or F4 U.S. competition.
- Hedge entered the day with seven-consecutive victories in FR Americas, and was racing to tie the current record of eight-straight wins, set by now INDYCAR winner Kyle Kirkwood in 2018, and tied by Linus Lundqvist in 2020. With a second-place result, he officially sits third on the list of all-time consecutive wins with seven.
- Cooper Becklin recorded his ninth podium of the season when he was promoted to third following a post-race Stewards’ Decision.
The opening round of FR Americas action at the New Jersey Lottery SpeedTour was exciting from the second the lights went out. Callum Hedge (No. 17 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) led the field off the starting block with his teammate Ryan Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) to the outside. Hedge entered the day with seven-consecutive victories in FR Americas, with the opportunity to tie the current record of eight-straight wins. However, it was Westling who got the perfect jump off the block. With Hedge in the middle and Shehan on the outside, the driver of the No. 1 had momentum on his side, allowing him to pull to the inside and claim the lead as the field entered Turn 1.
Hayden Bowlsbey (No. 22 Save22 Ligier JS F3) gridded just behind Westling in the fifth position. As Westling took over the point position, Bowlsbey stayed on his gearbox to overtake the front-row starters. In second by Turn 1, Bowlsbey was challenged by Hedge and settled into third as the group raced through Turn 2. Nose-to-tail contact in Turn 8 sent Bowlsbey off track, and caught the stewards’ attention to review after the race.
Meanwhile, Westling was setting his pace out front. First he led Hedge by a half-second, then it was down to just a 0.381-second gap, and then back up to a half-second lead—all in a matter of laps. With just over six minutes left on the clock, attention started to turn to weather, as a storm was about 25 miles away and headed for the track. Fortunately, the clock was able to outpace the clouds and Westling continued to lay down consistent times lap after lap. Opening up to as much as a 1.208-second advantage with four minutes left, Westling held off Hedge’s continued advances and crossed the finish line 0.516-seconds ahead of the seven-time race winner.
With Westling first and Hedge in second, Shehan had quietly run his race and crossed the finish line in the third position. However, contact with Bowlsbey during the opening lap cost the 18-year-old his perfect streak of podium finishes. After the race, the stewards decided that Shehan was wholly responsible for the incident and issued a 30-second time penalty, which dropped Shehan to fourth on the official results.
READ MORE: Race 1 Official Results
“That felt really good,” said Westling after climbing from his car. “It felt like I was dreaming the whole race; it was really good. I’m usually not that good at starts, but this one just clicked for me. By Turn 1, my coach said, ‘You have the inside. You’re all clear. Eyes forward.’ Something must have happened behind me, so I was going solo for a little bit. Later on, I made a couple mistakes, maybe my tires weren’t dialed in just yet, but Callum [Hedge] was closing in on us. So, I had to push a little more because the pressure was on. I didn’t have to look too far in my mirrors; we had a pretty good space between us, but I could’ve sworn I drove by the white flag four times. Finally seeing that checkered flag was awesome.”
“This was long overdue,” said team owner Eric Jensen. “We've been at this [training Oliver] for almost two years—actually it will be two years in October. This is his first-ever race win; he didn't do any karting, so this is the first time he's ever won a race and it’s at a very high level. I couldn't be prouder. We all couldn’t be prouder—and it’s well deserved. Nobody deserves it more than Oliver.”
FR Americas returns to NJMP’s Thunderbolt circuit again tomorrow to contest both Races 2 and 3. Lights out for Race 2 is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. ET, followed by Race 3 at 2:40 p.m. ET. Fans can follow @FRAmericas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates, and use the Race Monitor app for live timing and scoring.