ALTON, Va. (October 8, 2023) – After 13 podium finishes this season, Cooper Becklin finally broke through to earn his first-career win in Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) on Sunday morning. At the same track as his FR Americas debut two years ago, Becklin climbed from a fourth-place grid position to climb atop the podium after one runner-up and 12 third-place finishes this season. Callum Hedge had the opportunity to clinch the 2023 Drivers Championship title in today’s race, but an on-track incident eliminated him from contention and ensured the championship battle would carry forward to the season finale at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
Notes of Interest:
- Cooper Becklin earned his first FR Americas win in 39 career starts.
- With just 51 points separating Callum Hedge and Ryan Shehan, the 2023 Championship will be determined during the season finale at COTA.
- Ryan Shehan earned his 10th second-place result of 2023. The 18-year-old has three additional podiums, with two wins and a third-place result earned during the season-opener at NOLA.
- Hayden Bowlsbey earned his first-career podium with his third-place result in today’s race.
- Becklin was awarded the Omologato Perfectly Timed Move of the Race after another weekend with three podiums, including his first win.
Callum Hedge (No. 17 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) led the field down the starting grid with his championship rival Ryan Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) next to him. Oliver Westling (No. 1 JENSEN Ligier JS F3) had started third and was the first to challenge Hedge, pulling to the inside before going through the infield grass in Turn 1. Meanwhile, Shehan pulled side by side with Hedge as they raced through Turn 1, but Hedge darted ahead and secured the point position as they exited the horseshoe. By the end of the first lap, Hedge had already opened up a 1.5-second lead. As he pulled away, Shehan had his mirrors full with Becklin on his gearbox.
Becklin lined up fourth on the grid, but moved into third after Westling went off track in Turn 1. From there, he set his sights on Shehan. Right on Shehan’s gearbox as they completed the first lap, Becklin drove in deep as they entered Turn 4 on the second lap to overtake the second position. Meanwhile, Hedge had opened up more than a two-second lead.
With 19 minutes left on the clock, smoke appeared out the back of Hedge’s car as he exited Oak Tree Bend, and by the time he got to the top of the Roller Coaster, he made contact with the tire barrier. A full-course caution ensued before Hedge made his way back down pit road to the attention of his crew. With a broken front wing and rear suspension damage, it appeared that a slight off at Oak Tree caused the terminal damage that forced Hedge to retire from the event. The misfortune allowed Becklin to inherit the lead, and Shehan to move back into second.
With green flag conditions returning just a few minutes later, Becklin sailed on to the checkered flag with Shehan in tow. Westling and Hayden Bowlsbey (No. 22 Save 22 Ligier JS F3) once again duked it out for the third position. After contact between the two derailed their efforts in Race 1 of the weekend, Bowlsbey came out ahead in a clean battle in today’s race to claim his first-career FR Americas podium. Westling settled for fourth and Nicole Havrda (No. 6 Valley Kitchens / Farrow / Colonial Countertops / Hardwoods / Road to Racing / Fast Time Ligier JS F3) rounded out the top five.
After earning his first win in 39 FR Americas starts, Becklin was awarded the Omologato Perfectly Timed Move of The Race and was presented with a bespoke timepiece.
READ MORE: Race 3 Official Results
“This feels amazing,” said Becklin after climbing from the car. “We worked all season. We’ve been fast enough almost every weekend, and it’s finally worked out in our favor. We saved a set of tires, and the team worked really hard to get this car working to race pace. It worked out great, and now we’re on the top step.”
FR Americas will decide its champion next month in the season finale at Circuit of The Americas, November 2-4. Tickets for the event are on sale now at SpeedTour.net/Austin. Be sure to follow FR Americas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest news and updates.
Photos by Gavin Baker Photography.