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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Third podium finish for Nicole Havrda in Formula Regional Americas

Canadian racer Nicole Havrda secured her third podium of the Formula Regional Americas season during her first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, following up on her strong performances at the previous round and moving up to fourth in the drivers' standings.

Nicole Havrda, Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports, Formula Regional Americas, 2024 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Photo credits: Gavin Baker

Canadian racer Nicole Havrda claimed her third podium of the Formula Regional Americas season on her first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, keeping momentum after her maiden top three secured at the previous round at Road America, where the Shift Up Now athlete collected a fifth place and two third places.

Continuing her extraordinary form, Havrda, who is contesting her first full season in the series after two rounds in 2023, battled again in the top five at Indianapolis and eventually climbed the podium in race 2, before adding a fourth place to her tally in the final contest of the weekend.

The 18 year old driver previously claimed the title in last year's Formula Pro US series - an open wheel championship in Western US, as she collected a stellar 11 podiums and 9 wins to secure the crown. She collected valuable track time that eventually resulted in her full time debut in Formula Regional Americas in 2024 - in a strong field that is showcasing her speed at the wheel of the Ligier JS F3 car operated by Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports.

On her first trip to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Havrda familiarized with the 2.439-mile road course during the two test sessions on Thursday, where she was eighth fastest – then heading into qualifying on Friday. The Canadian set the ninth fastest time, with a 1:24.581 lap that put her half a second from the top five and represented her third start from the top ten in three rounds.

Havrda started from the inside of the fifth row for the first race of the weekend; when the lights went out, she brilliantly maneuvered into P8 by turn one. Unfortunately, as she attempted a move for seventh, a spin near the end of the second lap sent her #6 car to the back of the field, but she remained undeterred.

Focusing on recovery, Havrda displayed impressive racecraft, working her way back into the top ten. Her lap times were on par with the top five, and, by the end of the race, she had climbed back to P8, demonstrating her determination and speed.

Nicole Havrda, Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports, Formula Regional Americas, 2024 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Photo credits: Gavin Baker

The weather remained sunny and warm on Sunday morning for race two; Havrda lined up in P7 with hopes of a top-five finish. Nicole had a strong start and advanced to sixth by turn one and eventually reached fifth place by the end of the first lap. A caution period five minutes into the race due to a spun car momentarily paused the action.

Following the full course yellow, Havrda held her position at the restart. There was drama when two frontrunners collided: amidst the chaos, Havrda briefly lost her position but quickly reclaimed third. Another caution period occurred with 15 minutes remaining, but she again held off the competition after the restart.

With eight minutes left on the clock, Nicole had built a one-second margin ahead of her closest pursuer, leveraging her speed through the fast esses section that allowed the Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports driver to slightly pull away. Ambiado was in fact watching his mirrors from Jensen as well, with Havrda able to stretch her legs.

Nicola Ambiado attempted a late move into turn one on the final lap, but Havrda was smart and switched back, with her rival ultimately going deep and spinning in the grass.

This situation left Havrda vulnerable for an attack from Theodor Jensen, but Nicole once again showcased great pace and racecraft and successfully defended her third spot, crossing the finish line two tenths of a second ahead and thus securing a podium finish.

Race three took place later in the afternoon under the hottest conditions of the weekend.

Starting from the seventh grid slot again, Havrda slotted into eighth, but the race was soon red flagged following an accident for Landan Matriano Lim and Ricco Shlaimoun on the third lap – with the former ending into the barriers, leading to a 10-minute shootout upon resumption.

As the green fag flew, Havrda was back up to seventh place and, positioned just behind the four-wide pack into turn one, she capitalized on contact among competitors to gain a position.

Throughout the final laps, Havrda was clearly in contention for another top three, with a train of cars separated by tenths of a second: while she aimed to move forward, Nicole also had to watch her mirrors and defend against pressure from the cars behind. She eventually gained another position when Sherlock forced Jensen off the track with 4 minutes to go.

Up to fifth, Nicole Havrda took the chequered flag but was later promoted to P4 following a penalty for Sherlock for the previous incident.

In addition to her notable results during the weekend – including two top-four finishes – Havrda was honored with the “Best Performance of the Weekend” award by the stewards.

“Going into the weekend I was very confident, coming from two podiums at Road America,” Nicole said. “I struggled a bit in qualifying which set me back, but I worked hard and smart in each race and I am so happy to have gotten a podium at the iconic Indianapolis."

"It was an amazing weekend overall and I’m excited to continue to get more podiums in future races.”

After the third round of the Formula Regional Americas season, Havrda sits fourth in the drivers' standings and will be eyeing more point-scoring results in a week's time, as the series heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.



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