F3 Americas drivers deliver closest qualifying session since its inception
Following a series tight qualifying session, Kyle Kirkwood of Jupiter, Florida, will start on pole for Round 10 of the new F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda today at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. While Kirkwood emerged to the top of the time trials to set the track qualifying record, the field from pole to last place was only separated by about eight tenths of a second.
Returning for his second F3 Americas event, Benjamin Pederson of Copenhagen, Denmark, will share the front row with Kirkwood for the F1-style standing start with his Global Racing Group teammate Baltazar Leguizamon of Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting from Row 2. Series newcomer Parker Locke of San Antonio clocked the fourth fastest time in qualifying, however, a penalty issued for causing a red flag in practice yesterday demoted the 17-year-old pilot to sixth. Jacob Abel of Louisville, Kentucky, and John Paul Southern Jr. of Westlake, Ohio, will fill slots four and five.
Kirkwood’s metallic red, white and black No. 8 Firstex Industries machine charged the 12-turn, 2.54-mile Grand Prix circuit until the F4 U.S. reigning champion pulled far enough ahead to pit the rest of the 35-minute test session, reserving tires for the first round.
“The Abel Motorsports team gave me another great setup,” said Kirkwood after claiming his ninth consecutive pole. “We laid down four great laps and pulled in to save tires, which I think will make all the difference for Race 1 since the field is really close this weekend.”
In a similar strategy, the Global Racing Group Drivers pitted after two laps, waiting for the other F3 drivers to warm the cold Road Atlanta track. With about 12 minutes remaining in the session, all three drivers continued.
Southern, who experienced mechanical issues in both practice sessions on Friday, completed a full qualifying run without failure.
The F3 Americas racing commences today at 12:50 p.m. ET and wraps up tomorrow with two races at 9:05 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (updated times).
(All times local, schedule subject to change)