United States Formula 4’s first ever visit to Brainerd International Raceway started in a chaos that led to a race losing championship status.
In qualifying, Velocity Racing Development’s Nico Christodoulou edged Gonella Racing’s Mac Clark to pole by just 0.039 seconds, and the pair started race one cleanly under a rolling start after the starting lights proved unusable.
Behind them there was chaos though, with three cars being wiped out and putting the race straight under a full course yellow. Two more cars collided on the restart, then another went rolling down the track and the race went under yellow flag conditions until the finish.
Behind Christodoulou and Clark, Louka St-Jean made it an all-Canadian podium by picking his way through the crashes to finish third. Bryson Morris also rose up the order to finish fourth on his debut.
However these impressive results were cancelled out by less than one full lap of green flag running being completed in the the 10-lap race, and as a result it lost championship status.
This is the third time this has occurred recently in US F4, with the opening race at Road America two months ago being lost to the same reason, as was the wet 2020 season opener at Mid-Ohio. The second Road America race only ran for half-points.
Canada’s rising stars got some redemption in race two, as Clark pipped Christodoulou to victory by 0.209s. Karting graduate Morris completed the podium for Kiwi Motorsport in his first championship race. Points leader Noel Leon and Matt Christensen finished just on his tail.
Morris went even better in Sunday’s race, taking victory after Clark led Christodoulou in the opening laps.
Their lead battle ended when Christodoulou tried going around the outside of Clark but they collided, promoting Morris to a surprise first place ahead of Rodrigo Gutierrez. Christodoulou dropped to third, with Leon chasing him until the Mexican crashed out of fourth.
The pressure on Morris was relinquished as the race finished under yellow, but Christodoulou got past Gutierrez for second before then.
NC Race (10 laps)
1 Nico Christodoulou Velocity Racing Development 27m37.536s
2 Mac Clark Gonella Racing +2.073s
3 Louka St-Jean ICAR Canada Racing Team +2.591s
4 Bryson Morris Kiwi Motorsport +3.629s
5 Matt Christensen JHDD +4.863s
6 Gabriel Fonseca Kiwi Motorsport +7.929s
7 Chloe Chambers Future Star Racing +8.718s
8 Joseph Daniele Kiwi Motorsport +9.595s
9 Oscar Haffar Jensen Global Advisors +11.096s
10 Lucas Mann Momentum Motorsports +11.841s
Pole: Christodoulou, 1m30.338s
Fastest lap: Christodoulou, 1m38.156s
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 Clark 30m36.464s
2 Christodoulou +0.209s
3 Morris +2.377s
4 Noel Leon DEForce Racing +2.757s
5 Christensen +2.886s
6 Bijoy Garg JHDD +3.252s
7 Rodrigo Gutierrez DC Autosport +3.619s
8 Justin Arseneau ICAR Canada Racing Team +4.017s
9 Ryan Shehan Team Crosslink +5.016s
10 St-Jean +5.495s
FL: Jason Alder, 1m31.585s
Race 2 (15 laps)
2 Christodoulou +1.038s
3 Gutierrez +1.493s
4 Hayden Bowlsbey Alliance Racing +2.161s
5 Arseneau +3.108s
6 Mann +3.761s
7 Arturo Flores Gonella Racing +4.388s
8 Jason Alder Velocity Racing Development +4.952s
9 Garg +5.782s
10 St-Jean +6.964s
FL: Christodoulou, 1m32.343s
1 Leon 154 2 Clark 120.5 3 Christodoulou 105.5 4 Alder 87 5 Arias Deukmedjian 68 6 Christensen 67 7 Gutierrez 59 8 Garg 52 9 Arsenau 48 10 Morris 40