Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport’s Callum Hedge became Formula Regional Americas champion in the season finale at Circuit of the Americas.
The Kiwi comfortably topped qualifying, setting a 2m03.575s to take pole by 0.776 seconds over team-mate and title rival Ryan Shehan.
After covering his line into turn one for the first time he then sprinted away in the event’s opening race, while series returnee Cole Kleck starred by going from fifth to second on lap one.
Shehan tried regaining the place with a diving move at the end of the back straight but ran too deep so remained in third despite applying pressure through the final sector.
On lap three he tried again, with the same outcome, and that enabled Cooper Becklin to stay on his gearbox while Hedge had already sprinted five seconds clear.
Shehan finally got his pass done down the back straight on lap four but Kleck moved straight back past by going down his inside at the braking zone.
Kleck went side-by-side through the first two corners of lap six with Shehan and again held him off, then the appearance of the pace car saved Shehan from an attack from Becklin later in the lap.
Racing resumed on lap eight, and Hedge weaved excessively on the restart to warm up his tyres. That enabled Kleck to go down the inside of him at turn one but he went too deep and Hedge returned to the front.
Becklin demoted Shehan to fourth entering the back straight, and by the end of the lap Hedge was already 2.077s clear. Hayden Bowlsbey and Manuel Roza passed Shehan on lap nine, and he kept on falling down the order.
Hedge won the 14-lap race by 5.506s over Becklin, who passed first-time podium finisher Kleck in the final sector on lap 11, while Shehan was 35.894s behind the winner and down in 10th. That delivered Hedge the title.
The race one fastest lap put Hedge on race two pole and a strong start meant his lead was undisputed into turn one, but the pace car then came out due to Jake Bonilla having a collision entering the back straight that left his car needing to be retrieved.
There had been other drama in the midfield battles, and Everett Stack pitted at the end of lap one. The pace car pulled in on lap three but double-waved yellow flags remained through lap four so racing did not resume until lap five.
Roza was the driver on the rise, passing Shehan and Becklin, then clearing Kleck for third on lap seven. Shehan managed to follow him past drivers to get into fourth, but they had no answer to the pace of the top two.
Hedge built a 1.6s lead but on the last lap was passed by Oliver Westling at the end of the back straight. He ran off and with the extra speed managed to reclaim the lead at the next right-haner, but Westling dived down his inside at the final corner and won in a photo finish by 0.05s. Kleck beat Bowlsbey to sixth in a similarly fierce fight.
Hedge set the fastest lap so got pole for a foggy race three on Saturday, and he slid out of his grid spot but led into turn one. A caution period then interrupted proceedings until lap four, and Hedge quickly pulled away.
Shehan lost places before the caution while Roza climbed to third behind Westling. After the restart Shehan battled Kleck and Bowlsbey until the former pulled away and the latter spun. Bowlsbey still finished sixth and passed two cars on the last lap, and Shehan finished 10th.
Race 1 (14 laps)
1 Callum Hedge Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport 31m08.566s
2 Cooper Becklin Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +5.506s
3 Cole Kleck Speed Factory +8.064s
4 Hayden Bowlsbey IGY6 Motorsports +9.775s
5 Manuel Roza Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +11.942s
6 Oliver Westling Jensen Global Advisors +14.613s
7 Max Hewitt Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +20.763s
8 Jake Bonilla Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +24.369s
9 Everett Stack Jensen Global Advisors +27.183s
10 Ryan Shehan Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +35.894s
Pole: Hedge, 2m03.575s
Fastest lap: Hedge, 2m05.234s
Race 2 (12 laps)
1 Westling 30m45.331s
2 Hedge +0.050s
3 Roza +4.997s
4 Shehan +5.852s
5 Becklin +13.808s
6 Kleck +17.515s
7 Bowlsbey +26.866s
8 Hewitt +27.256s
9 Stack +30.093s
10 Kevin Janzen Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +46.133s
FL: Hedge, 2m06.669s
Race 3 (13 laps)
1 Hedge 31m14.806s
2 Westling +9.250s
3 Roza +18.817s
4 Kleck +24.417s
5 Bonilla +29.249s
6 Bowlsbey +34.557s
7 Stack +36.438s
8 Hewitt +37.159s
9 Janzen +54.461s
10 Shehan +1m39.493s
FL: Hedge, 2m05.461s
1 Hedge 384 2 Shehan 279 3 Becklin 251 4 Westling 217 5 Roza 122 6 Bowlsbey 116 7 Hewitt 77 8 Bryson Morris 62 9 Nick Persing 52 10 Kleck 51