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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Maite Cáceres adds fourth place finish to Formula FARA campaign

Despite the difficult start of the weekend at Sebring, with a new car and with a missed practice due to technical issues, Maite Cáceres fought adversities, got up to speed and was once again not far off the podium, finishing fourth in her third Formula FARA outing.

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Ligier F4 JS 2024, Road America
Photo credits: Carlos Prieto Photo

Uruguayan talent Maite Cáceres was back behind the wheel of the International Motorsport Ligier F4 car less than a week after the second round of the Ligier JS F4 Series held at Road America, where she had battled for the win in race 3, before eventually securing a third place. It was her third podium of the season in just two rounds, having also finished in the top five in every single race so far.

Cáceres has in fact enjoyed a widely positive start of her season - on her return to US competitions after one year in Europe - and has made a remarkable step forward, having been battling for podiums and victories in all races she entered this year, including the first two rounds of the Formula FARA series at Homestead Miami before the start of the F4 JS Ligier championship, initially planned as preparation for her main campaign.

Strong runs for the Uruguayan translated into a very good championship position, and therefore she returned to the Formula FARA grid for the Sebring weekend, aiming for her first victory in single seaters which now appears to be only a matter of time.

The weekend, though, was off to a challenging start. The big crash that ended the third Ligier JS F4 race at Road America left Maite's car severely damaged. Although she was luckily unharmed, she would have to drive a completely different car at Sebring - which required some testing in the free practice session.

A technical issue in practice then made everything more difficult: "Tricky start into the first day of race weekend, electrical issues held us back and we couldn’t get out there but the team worked to solve it for next session and we are more than ready to push for qualifying now" - Maite commented on Friday.

While she couldn't set a representative time in practice, the team's efforts allowed the #6 machine to be ready for qualifying later in the day.

Cáceres was straight up to P6 on her first timed run, then continued to improve after each lap, setting a 2:18.299 that placed her fifth with 12 minutes to go. One lap later, she had lowered the time by one full second again - retaining fifth - and one more personal best in 2:16.405 cemented her P5 in the 20 minute qualifying session.

Despite the limited mileage in practice, Cáceres showed fast adaptability as she familiarized with the track quickly and took out big chunks of time at every lap: while she would line up from the third row, Maite often proved great pace to charge back in the races.

Teddy Musella secured pole position, ahead of Beckham Jacir and Gaston Irazu - who had been the protagonist of the opening rounds of the season in Miami.

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Ligier F4 JS 2024, Road America
Photo credits: Carlos Prieto Photo

Musella and Jacir battled for the lead over the first lap, and Cáceres followed closely in fifth, right in the clutches of Gaston Irazu after a closely contested first lap which saw the top five slightly breaking away from the rest of the pack.

As Irazu moved up the field - until reaching the lead by the end of the third lap - Cáceres now had Cash Felber right in her target: the two ran on identical laps, around half a second separating them, while third-placed Musella clocked the fastest lap and opened a small gap.

On lap five, though, Caceres set a new personal best and launched her attack on Felber, which was successful: the Uruguayan was now up to fourth, with a three second gap to close to catch the top-3.

In clear air Maite pulled away from Felber, but couldn't quite catch Musella - who also struggled to keep up the pace with Irazu and Jacir, as they traded positions in the lead. Beckham Jacir made the winning move in the closing laps and then held on to the lead until the chequered flag, taking victory in the first race of the weekend.

While Maite Cáceres couldn't quite challenge for the podium in the closing laps, she completed a great first contest in fourth place, moving up from her starting position and again improving her lap times throughout the contest.

The second and final race of the weekend saw the top 8 from qualifying inverted: it would be Roman Felber to start from reverse grid pole, ahead of Justin Di Lucia and Max Mokarem; from fourth, Maite Cáceres would therefore have a good opportunity to end her weekend at Sebring on a high, also thanks to fresh tyres.

Unfortunately, though, her race ended into turn 1, as a contact at the start ignited a big crash that brought out the red flag. Luckily the Uruguayan was unhurt in the accident.

"Not the weekend I was hoping for", Cáceres said. "Really gutted that I couldn’t score the result I wanted. We started with some electrical issues and lost an important session, but in the end we adapted and moved past the challenges!"

Nevertheless, there were still plenty of positives to take home:

"Going into this race, I worked on some of my weaker areas together with the team and my sports coach, and I’m happy that we managed to implement lots of the things learned in the past few days. Here is when I have to look back, see what I’ve achieved, and keep fighting for my dream."

Despite the difficult start of the weekend, with a new car on one of the most challenging racetracks in North America, Cáceres fought adversities, got up to speed and was once again not far off the podium. She will now be aiming to apply the learnings into the upcoming weekends, as she returns behind the wheel for the third round of the Ligier JS F4 series on 20-23 June at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. 

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Ligier F4 JS 2024, Road America
Photo credits: Carlos Prieto Photo



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