Nikita Johnson won two races from three in YACademy Winter Series’s first mid-week round at Sebring.
The two-round series uses the same first-generation Formula 4 cars as United States F4 and USF Juniors, and attracted drivers and teams who will be contesting the latter.
Johnson took pole by 0.808 seconds over single-seater convert Noah Ping, with Sarah Fisher protege Elliot Cox also within a second of the pace. Nicholas d’Orlando, who announced he will be race for Cape Motorsports in USF Juniors, qualified fourth.
They all battled fiercely on lap one of race one, with Johnson just ahead of Ping before he got by on lap two. Cox followed in third until lap four of 15, when Sam Corry sent him spinning while Johnson reclaimed first place.
Johnson then pulled away, until late on when Ping set fastest lap, and won. Cox dropped to ninth, but charged back up to third as nobody else had the pace to match the top two. He took third on lap 11, with Corry following him through past Arturo Flores who had held the position. Flores dropped to seventh on the last lap.
The reversed grid second race started with drama as Flores and Ping made contact, with Flores then sending both himself and Cox into the barriers.
Alan Isambard led behind the pace car through the race’s first half, but was quickly disposed by Corry once racing resumed. Johnson demoted Isambard to third a lap later, then prowled behind Corry before passing and pulling away to win as Corry briefly went off and lost time.
Ping climbed to third ahead of Isambard but was later removed from the results, while Velocity Racing Development’s Formula Regional Americas signing Rodrigo Gutierrez joined the action and was classified fifth.
Johnson was on course for three wins until the final lap of race three when he lost 8.792s and victory to Ping. Cox was half a minute back in third, with Hughes rising to fourth after Corry and then Gutierrez – following a battle with Hughes – exited proceedings. A three-car final lap fight for fifth was won by d’Orlando, ahead of David Burketh and Ellis Spiezia who has eyes on the new all-electric ERA championship.
Race 1 (15 laps)
1 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 33m32.657s
2 Noah Ping Velocity Racing Development +1.249s
3 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing +22.874s
4 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development +28.494s
5 Nicholas d’Orlando Cape Motorsports +32.442s
6 Ellis Spiezia Cape Motorsports +33.040s
7 Arturo Flores Gonella Racing +37.323s
8 Lochie Hughes JHDD +47.203s
9 David Burketh Future Star Racing +55.058s
10 Alan Isambard International Motorsport +55.220s
Pole: Johnson, 2m13.529s
FL: Ping, 2m12.699s
Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Johnson 38m54.927s
2 Corry +3.923s
3 Isambard +14.361s
4 Spiezia +18.525s
5 Rodrigo Gutierrez Velocity Racing Development +24.015s
6 d’Orlando +24.189s
7 Burketh +24.655s
8 Carl Bennett Gonella Racing +37.484s
9 Tyke Durst Gonella Racing +39.024s
10 Hughes +52.078s
FL: Johnson, 2m13.424s
Race 3 (15 laps)
1 Ping 33m34.317s
2 Johnson +7.921s
3 Cox +30.566s
4 Hughes +38.066s
5 d’Orlando +42.696s
6 Burketh +43.238s
7 Spiezia +43.820s
8 Isambard +48.616s
9 Bennett +54.224s
10 Durst +59.640s
FL: Ping, 2m12.789s
1 Johnson 68 2 Ping 43 3 Corry 30 4 Cox 30 5 d’Orlando 28 6 Spiezia 26 7 Isambard 20 8 Hughes 17 9 Burketh 16 10 Gutierrez 10