The F4 U.S. Championship made their first ever trip to Brainerd International Raceway this weekend, and in three chaotic races we saw championship leaders fall, Canadians dominate, and a first-time winner in Bryson Morris.
Nico Christodoulou sat on the pole for the first race of the weekend, his first of the season. He led the field to a two-by-two rolling start as the lighting system malfunctioned, chased down by fellow countryman Mac Clark. On the first lap of the race, Clark made contact with championship leader Noel Leon in exit of turn four sending him spinning. A separate incident on the entrance to turn four collected Seth Foley, Arturo Flores and Emily Linscott. The combined accidents brought out the first full course yellow of the day, and marked the end of the race for all but Leon.
Christodoulou cruised for the rest of the race, taking the victory from flag to flag. Clark finished in second and Louka St-Jean took his first podium of the year to round out the first all-Canadian podium in F4 U.S. history. Unfortunately, due to not enough laps being run under green, the race was not counted for points.
Frontrunner Bijoy Garg, who started fourth, was one of two other drivers not classified at the end of the race along with Jake Bonilla. Both retired after completing eight laps. Early championship leader Jason Alder continued to struggle in the first race, finishing twentieth one lap down. Bonilla, Flores and Foley were unable to be repaired in time for the second race.
Christodoulou led the field to green once again for race two, joined by Clark on the front row. The two dueled in a league of their own for the entire race, a full two seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. An early incident saw Chloe Chambers spin in the same tricky turn four area, ending her day after only two laps.
In the end, Clark got the better of his Canadian compatriot Christodoulou by a narrow margin of two tenths to win his fourth race of the year. Morris took the third step of the podium, while Leon recovered nicely from his earlier race to finish fourth.
Alder struggled yet again in race two, after running in the top five he went off track late and slid far down the order to fifteenth. More valuable points lost as he tries to keep up with Leon in the championship.
The front row stayed the same as the last two races, but this time Clark took pole from Christodoulou by three one-thousandths of a second. Clark led the field to green and was clear ahead by turn two with Christodoulou close behind. Within the first ten minutes of the race there was a full course yellow for a car stopped on the high side of turn four. The car only needed a push, so the caution was brief.
Clark led the field to green again with twenty-two minutes left, and maintained his lead over Christodoulou as Matt Christensen and Leon battled for third behind. With seventeen minutes remaining, Clark and Christodoulou made contact in turn three, spinning Clark and sending Christodoulou wide and into the dirt. Morris and Rodrigo Gutierrez got past the Canadian for the lead as he fell to third.
Another full course yellow was displayed with eleven minutes to go, as Leon buried himself in the gravel trap while running in fourth. With under three minutes remaining in the race while under yellow, the race was declared and Morris claimed his first win of the season. Christodoulou managed to get around Gutierrez for second while the Bolivian finished third. After his collision, Clark finished nineteenth while championship leader Leon was not classified following his spin.
Alder was finally able to come away with an incredible drive, taking eighth place after starting race three from the pit lane.
Linscott, who is chronicling her journey through U.S. F4 here on The Checkered Flag, recovered from her first race wreck nicely to finish sixteenth after starting eighteenth in race two. In race three, she started sixteenth and yet again improved on her starting position to finish fourteenth.
As the season winds down, teams will next take the track on 24-26 September at Virginia International Raceway.
You an view all the weekend’s results here.