The third round of the 2016 FIA F4 US Championship at New Jersey Motorsports Park, was a positive weekend for Benjamin Pedersen. He took the number 24 DirtFish car to point finishes in all 3 races of the weekend, with a smell of the podium in the 2ndrace where he took 4th. “Following the challenges with electronics and 3 DNF’s at round 2, it was really nice to land 3 point scoring races in New Jersey –I’ll aim at making that a habit”, said Benjamin.
Qualifying –August 27th
With 0.9 second as the difference between 1stand 10thposition in qualifying, it was truly a game of very small margins that would determine the starting order for race 1 of the weekend. “I was really happy to see that in the 3rd weekend of racing a formula car, I had closed in quite a bit on the fast and experienced drivers from North and South America, in the F4 US Championship. I will continue to focus on the same rate of improvement weekend by weekend as I gain more experience; being within 9 tenths of position 1 was really encouraging”, Benjamin said.
Race 1 –August 27th
Knowing how close the field was based on qualifying results, Benjamin found himself in a difficult scenario during the race start as the car suffered from clutch slip during the standing start; it simply didn’t “bite,” as it would normally do; so a few positions were lost during the start and during the run to turn 1. That provided for a great opportunity to demonstrate some “race craft” and a nice recovery brought Benjamin back to finish the race in 9th position, producing the 8th best lap-time of the race, determining that as the starting position for race 2.
Race 2 –August 28th
Data had been studied closely, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to do a deeper clutch investigation during the weekend. An alternative starting approach had to be taken to ensure the clutch wouldn’t slip during the start, and while better off the line, Benjamin still saw the loss of 4 spots and found himself in 12th position after the start. With races being 30 minutes in length, the work was now laid out! With another great demonstration of race craft, Benjamin found himself in 5th position going into the last lap, and with a spectacular outside pass on experienced driver Jackie Ding on the last lap, the smell of a podium was there, but 4th place was a very satisfying result.
Race 3 –August 28th
Another race where patience had to be applied to get the clutch to bite, Benjamin again lost a few positions on the start. The fight through the field this time, proved to be much more difficult. “I knew I had pushed the tires hard in race 2, and that it would be difficult to get them to last in race 3”, said Benjamin. “It was a deliberate bet, that paid off nicely in Race 2, but of course made it hard to advance through the field in race 3”. The number 24 DirtFish car was constantly in a battle throughout the entire race, still managing to bring home a points finish in position 10. “The learnings about tire performance was very valuable and can be used effectively as we move forward”, said Benjamin, “… and of course we now have time before the next race to investigate and rectify the clutch issue”.