Impressive debut for Greenemeier, Aust shows big improvement in F4 US opener at NOLA
At the 2023 F4 US season opener, Hannah Greenemeier made a spectacular debut in race cars, marginally missing out on a top-ten finish in a highly competitive 30 car field. Returning driver Madison Aust was equally impressive, showing significant improvements and battling in the midfield.
A new season of the increasingly competitive Formula 4 US Championship got underway at NOLA Motorsports Park, Avondale, Louisiana - with a big field of 30 cars and many new faces. On the grid of the 2023 season we will find three female drivers: race car rookie Hannah Greenemeier, who graduates from karting; Madison Aust, who returns to the series after her first campaign in 2022; as well as Ava Dobson - who will make her series debut later on in the season, having not turned 15 yet. The field was significantly closer than in 2022 and both Greenemeier and Aust – both racing under the banner of Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport – battled in the top end of the midfield, showing highly promising performance throughout the weekend at the 4.423 km NOLA venue. The practice sessions that kicked-off the season were led by Lewis Hodgson (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport) and Michael Costello (JHDD). Hannah Greenemeier and Madison Aust immediately showed their speed and slotted in the midfield, with promising pace for the opening three races. Greenemeier – who had completed a testing program with the team – was apparently unfazed by the pressure of the first ever racing weekend and continued to make steady progress throughout. In qualifying, Costello scored pole position in his first ever F4 event, followed by Titus Sherlock (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport) and Carl Bennett (Gonella Racing). Hannah Greenemeier would start her first race in F4 from P16, while Madison Aust had a more challenging qualifying and lined up in P25. In the first race, Costello got away well but then dropped down the order after an incident and slipped to seventh. Further back, Daniel Cará (Cará Origin Motosports) had an impressive start and moved from seventh to third, before claiming the lead on lap 3. But the curse of the leader continued, as Cará made contact and dropped down. From third on the grid, Bennett slowly climbed the ladder and got into the lead on lap 9, when the race was restarted after a caution. Behind him, Patrick Woods-Toth (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport) and Titus Sherlock tried to put some pressure on him, but they eventually crossed the finish line in that order, with Bennett scoring his first career victory. Hannah Greenemeier initially had a difficult start, as she couldn't get off the line due to a gear which didn't fully engage. She dropped all the way down the order and, with a close pack of 30 cars, she had a mountain to climb. But the young American was not intimidated and, with an outstanding performance, she battled her way from 31st to 12th, with really impressive pace and smart driving. Maddie Aust also moved up the order and battled in the midfield; showing more improvements, Aust came home in a positive 17th place, gaining 8 positions in race 1. In Race 2, Jimmie Lockhart (Velocity Racing Development) started from pole after setting the fastest lap in the first race; he led from start to finish, with second place going to Jesse Lacey (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), who also held position. The battle for third place was much more heated and included drivers from third to tenth, constantly swapping positions and with several cars going two or three-wide. Positions were only settled on the final lap, with Costello seemingly able to grab the podium – before he attempted to pass Lacey for the second, opening a gap that was soon filled by Woods-Toth, who sneaked into third position. Once again, Hannah Greenemeier gave proof of her talent and fought in the midfield, keeping her cool and finishing close to her first top-ten result, in a highly positive P11 from P21 on the grid. Maddie Aust, also protagonist of a brilliant second race, followed her closely in 12th position. She gained 12 spots. From race 3 pole position, Costello pulled away early on in the race but Lockhart, coming from fourth on the grid, closed in and passed him for the top spot on lap 2. He could not build a gap, as a caution brought the field together soon after. At the restart, Lockhart held his position, while Costello and Hodgson battled for second place from the recovering Woods-Toth. Lockhart eventually pulled away, followed by Costello. Behind them, Hodgson and Woods-Toth swapped places to decide the final podium spot – before another caution was deployed. The race ended under yellow flag conditions, with Lockhart securing his second win of the weekend, ahead of Costello and Woods-Toth. The third race of the weekend proved to be a bit trickier for both Hannah Greenemeier and Maddie Aust. Greenemeier lost a few positions at the start and battled around the top-20 throughout the race. The rookie fought her way up to 17th in the second half of the race. Aust, had another strong recovery drive: from 19th, she gained a few positions and settled in 16th place. While battling with the car ahead, though, she was unfortunately caught in an accident and was classified in P28. “The field is definitely larger and a bit tighter this year", Madison Aust told us after the weekend. "We definitely saw improvement with race one and two after a bit of a struggle in qualifying due to red flags. I look to continue improving in the next race at Road America"m she continued, having made a significant step forward compared to 2022. Hannah Greenemeier rounded out a spectacular debut in F4 with a 16th position. “It was a great first weekend in F4", she told us. "The first race I didn’t get the best start as my car didn’t fully go into gear but I made my way back up to 12th. The second race was pretty crazy at the start but then I just put my head down to finish 11th from 21st, and in the third race I didn’t execute how I would have liked to, but now I know for future races and was still able to finish 16th." "Overall, I think it was a great first weekend of racing cars and I look forward to doing the next round with Crosslink/ Kiwi Motorsport." – Greenemeier concluded. The next event will take place from 18th to 21st May at Road America.