The fourth round in the FIA F4 US Championship at Road Atlanta was a very positive weekend. The number 24 DirtFish car found good pace in the practice sessions and a good setup for the car was found. Benjamin managed to leverage the good pace setting up well for the races with good starting positions. Overall, it was a very satisfactory weekend when reflecting on the progress made.
Qualifying –September 16th, 2016
Qualifying for the FIA F4 US Championship put Benjamin in 8th position for the start of race 1. Each lap got faster and faster as Benjamin was still learning the track and the limits of the car. The qualifying time was good and landed an OK starting position for race 1; exactly the goal for qualifying.
Race 1 –September 17th, 2016
Starting from 8th position based on qualifying results, Benjamin found himself on the outside row for the standing start. The number 24 DirtFish car got a great launch off the line as the starting lights went out and gained 2 positions going into turn 1. It was great to see that the change of the clutch from prior races worked! Problems with clutch slippage during the race starts had been painful in prior race weekend, but after changing the clutch, “the car felt great off of the line” said Benjamin. He found himself in a constant battle throughout the entire race and unfortunately fell back to 11th position, just outside of the points. Benjamin knew he and the car had much better pace than results showed so he was very focused on race 2 of the weekend following this finish.
Race 2 –September 17th, 2016
Starting from 7thposition based on the best race 1 lap time, Benjamin was focused on having a good clean start to the second race. As the lights went out, Benjamin found himself with another great launch off of the line and gained one position going into the first turn. This again would prove to be a race full of battles and fights but Benjamin managed to finish the race in 6th position. He stated that the number 24 DirtFish car “felt great and that no big changes were necessary for the start of race 3” and that was very satisfying for both the team and Benjamin.
Race 3 –September 18th, 2016
Starting from 5th position based on the best race 2 lap time, Benjamin saw this race as the most opportunistic race of the weekend. The number 24 DirtFish car again got a great start off of the line as the lights went out, maintaining positions going into the first corner. Benjamin kept pace with the front runners of the grid and was keen on simply driving a mistake free race in order to stay with them. Then unfortunately in the opening laps, a competitor made an aggressive move going into turn 7 and gave Benjamin no option but to go wide at the exit in order to avoid an accident. This dropped Benjamin back to 12thposition; a very frustrating situation as it was such a promising race. Benjamin managed to drive back up to field and claim 10thposition as they crossed the finish line. Looking back on the race, Benjamin stated, “I was very happy to see good pace within the race and being able to stay with the front runners at the start was very rewarding after all the hard work within the weekend. Being forced off track by another competitor was obviously very frustrating, but I used this as an opportunity to show that I don’t give up until the finish line and that attitude paid off as it gave me 2 championship points for the race as I drove from 12thup to 10thposition after closing the gap up to the field. I’m really looking forward to Homestead Miami Speedway as it is the last round in the inaugural season and I will be giving it my all!”