F3 Americas field grows as new teams and drivers enter for 2019
The F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda ushered in a new era of racing in North America last year. Now with more than a dozen cars purchased and early registration entries rolling in, the 2019 roster is developing with new talent committed to elevating this season’s competition.
Longtime F4 U.S. Championship supporters Momentum Motorsports announced earlier this week its program expansion into the FIA regional single-chassis, single-engine championship, fielding a total of four cars between both F4 and F3 Americas. Originally slated to compete in Momentum’s F4 program for the upcoming season, Kent Vaccaro of Plattsburgh, New York, will now return to the team, filling the outfit’s first Ligier JS F3 seat.
"I couldn't be more excited to make the move up to F3,” said Vaccaro. “F3 Americas is at the forefront of American open-wheel racing. We've never had an FIA regulated open cockpit series quite like this in the past. I am happy to be able to join this incredible ladder system early on, and I know there will be intense competition. I will be able to drive one of the most advanced race cars in the world, a Ligier JS F3, and this is a perfect place to prove myself as one of the best up and comers. Originally my goal was to win races in 2019 and make a solid run at the 2019 F4 championship. Nothing has changed in my eyes. The car is a little different and faster, but my goals and the team goals of being crowned the 2019 champion has not changed at all. I couldn't be more thankful to have Momentum Motorsports behind me, as well as the opportunity to work more closely with world-famous companies like Honda, Ligier and Hankook."
Last week, Velocity Racing Development confirmed that its maiden F3 Americas lineup will include a three-car effort with two F4 U.S. alumni already joining its ranks. Mathias Soler-Obel of Bogota, Colombia, and Ricco Shlaimoun of Los Angeles officially entered the growing program, setting sights on the top step of the podium.
"I'm really excited to be racing F3 with VRD this season," Shlaimoun said. "During the last few months, I've had an opportunity to test the new Ligier JS F3 car, and it has been amazing. Handling is incredible, and the performance of the Honda HPD engine is second to none. I know when I get into the car, it's at peak setup, giving me the confidence to push it to its full potential. I chose F3 Americas because it’s another rung on the FIA Formula 1 ladder, giving me an opportunity to race among some of the greatest up and coming international drivers. With a bit of hard work, I'm looking forward to making my way to the top step of the podium."
SCCA Runoffs National Championship team One Formula Racing is also stepping into international-level professional racing this year with F3 Americas Championship. The Illinois-based outfit is in the development stages of entering two cars for a full championship season.
"We are diligently working to finalize our complete program and that includes two drivers for the 2019 season," explained Steve Stadel, Team Manager for One Formula Racing. "We have put together a strong core for our team, and we come to the F3 Americas program with success in other open wheel disciplines. We are looking forward to solidifying two talented drivers and welcome the challenge that the upcoming season will bring us."
The new Ligier JS F3 chassis is powered by a 303-horsepower Honda Civic® Type-R® turbocharged K20C1 motor, equipped with Hankook Tires specifically developed for the championship and includes the first North American application of a race car Halo. The cost-controlled package starts at $134,000. The top-eight drivers in the championship earn FIA Super License Points to aid in their racing career advancement with the winner receiving 15 points.
“F3 Americas offers the next level of open-wheel racing, meeting the demands of racers and teams looking to grow their capabilities into more sophisticated, powerful machinery with a focus on performance, safety and cost control,” said SCCA Pro Racing General Manager Sydney Davis Yagel. “The 2019 season of F3 Americas is shaping up to be more exciting than in its inaugural season. With first-year teams like Global Racing Group, Abel Motorsports and Southern Motorsports still yet to make driver announcements, fans should expect double the field size this year.”
The F3 Americas season kicks off its second season supporting the IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park April 5-7. The Championship will visit six FIA-Grade 3 tracks during its second season with stops at Road Atlanta, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Virginia International Raceway and Sebring International Raceway. Most events will host three 35-minute long races with a total of 17 rounds for the season.
For more information on the upcoming F3 Americas season or its teams, visit F3Americas.com.
***Cover photo by Gavin Baker Photography