F4 US: Solid Debut for Linscott and Chambers At Road Atlanta
Even though the first round of the F4 US championship turned out to be a weather-roulette, Emily Linscott and Chloe Chambers completed successful debuts, with Linscott scoring her first points. Meanwhile, Juju Noda pulled out of the round in dramatic fashion after topping the practice sessions and her future in the series is uncertain.
A crowded field of 29 cars took the start of the opening round of the 2021 Formula 4 US Championship last weekend at Road Atlanta – only one of the many iconic North American circuits that the series will visit this year.
The drivers, though, found some extra challenges with the unpredictable weather conditions, already messing with the teams' programs as early as the promoter test days: under the torrential rain on Friday, the first session was postponed due to a massive oil spill on track from an earlier session – which initially allowed the drivers to run the full 25-minute of scheduled practice, but qualifying had to be shortened to 20 minutes.
The practice sessions were topped by highly anticipated Japanese racer Juju Noda (Jay Howard Driver Development/NODA Racing), last year making her debut in Europe in F4 machinery. Noda, daughter of former F1 and Indycar racer Hideki, famously won her first ever race in the Danish F4 last year and was set to move to the US for her second international season. Powering Diversity scholarship winners Chloe Chambers (Future Star Racing) and Emily Linscott (Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport) were respectively 20th and with no time set.
Qualifying started in wet conditions and was then interrupted by a red flag when Nico Christodoulou (Velocity Racing Development) was off the track at Turn 11. After the restart, it was Noel Leon (DEForce Racing) who secured pole position ahead of Jason Alder (Velocity Racing Development).
Chambers qualified her Future Star Racing Ligier F4 car in 13th position, while British teenager and Pippa Mann protegé Emily Linscott was unlucky with the red flag timing and was P23 in the end.
“It’s just bad timing, the red flag came out when it did as I felt I had a lot more time left in me but this will give me a chance to have some fun and show my overtaking skills off", said Emily.
Juju Noda didn't start the qualifying session and the team left the paddock surrounded by mystery.
It is currently not clear whether Noda Racing has withdrawn Juju for the whole season or just for the event at this point.
Race 1 started with a stalled car which interrupted the action and required the intervention of the Safety Car. When the green flag was waved, the race was led by Alder until a second neutralization as Seth Foley was forced to retire. With two laps to go, the competition went back to green and Noel Leon took over the lead; but the fight for the win wasn´t over yet, as Adler passed Leon around the outside of Turn 12. The battle on the last lap was on fire, but Adler crossed the finish line in first, with Leon right behind him. Third was Christodoulou. Emily Linscott finished her first race in the series in 15th position and Chloe Chambers was P17 – as she was penalized with a ten second penalty after a jump start where she had gained an advantage.
In Race 2, Alder lined up on pole position ahead of Christensen and Christodoulou.
Chloe Chambers went into the race from P10 and Emily Linscott from P19. It was a race with many heavy contacts and, among them, Chloe was involved in a contact with three other cars and was forced to retire. After the race went back to green, it was a fight between Alder, Leon and Arias Deukmedjian (Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport), with Alder having the better hand: the driver of the #77 car took home the second victory of the weekend as well, while Emily Linscott finished again in P15.
The start of Race 3 was postponed as the rain flooded the track: the race was started in wet condition later in the day. Lean started on pole, ahead of Alder. Emily and Chloe followed in P14 and P22. Shortly after the green lights, Spencer Bucknum (Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport) went off the track and triggered a Safety Car. The track conditions were constantly changing and the following cars also flew off track: Leon claimed victory, with Adler finishing second.
With an impressive eighth place finish, Linscott scored her first points of the season in her debut weekend: "Such an awesome way to wrap up the weekend! Started the third race P14 and after some great overtakes and battles in the wet conditions, I finished P8.", she commented. "First points of the year and a hell of a lot of new experience under my belt".
Chloe Chambers was also close to the points, finishing again in P11.
The next F4 US event will take place at Road America on 14th to 16th May.