A fresh, new year started off with a wet and rainy test day at Thunderhill Raceway Park for the drivers in the Formula Pro USA Western F4 championship presented by Exclusive Racing. Last year's vice champion, William Ferguson, was heading into the wet test day not having been in the car for over 3 months. Ferguson was looking to capitalize on his momentum from last year, with 3 wins and a podium finish at every race while only competing in the last half of the season.
It was Ferguson's first time driving during wet conditions in an F4 car. To add to the mayhem, rallycross driver Conner ”The Hammer” Martell, would also be racing a Formula 4 car as well as Marco Kacic, a veteren to the series. The drivers managed to keep it together Thursday with only a couple spins while Martell showed outstanding speed.
Though it was good car control practice, the rest of the weekend would be dry, giving the drivers only a couple sessions to get ready for qualifying 1 on Friday. Marco Kacic went on to qualify third, Conner Martell second and at the opening round of 2021, William Ferguson, rounded out qualifying with the fastest lap and pole position.
Saturday would have a separate qualifying for race 2 and the first official race of the F4 US Western Championship. Since the rain on Thursday the track was getting better and better every session, the drivers in every class had to constantly adjust. For example, a 1:50.7 put William Ferguson on top for qualifying 1 and in qualifying 2 it was a 1:50.1 that grabbed him back to back pole positions, with Kacic in a close P2 and Martell in 3rd.
Race one showed an intense battle between Kacic and Ferguson while both drivers were making their way through traffic. Ferguson would go on to win the first race of the season but only just. Kacic finished 2nd with a mere 0.18 second gap behind the World Speed driver.
A chaotic race 2 would show William Ferguson and Conner Martell making contact exiting the last corner and coming on to the front straight. Ferguson got the short end of the stick perroetting down the front straightaway, yet he saved the car in style completing a 360 with no damage and minor loss of position. However, a big gap to the leader, Marco Kacic, left him with a lot of work for the remainder of the race. Dropping back to 5th place 2 laps into the race, Ferguson was able to navigate his way through traffic and up to 3rd place, now he had to run down Martell in 2nd. By the time he caught up to the rallycross driver there were only a few laps remaining. It was the final lap and Ferguson still had not gotten by Martell. However, after forcing a mistake in the final corner, Ferguson was able to get a run down the straightaway and come home with a second place finish after an amazing recovery.
Fast forward to rounds 3 and 4 at the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway. Heading into the weekend, drivers William Ferguson and Marco Kacic were tied for first place in the championship. However, Kacic decided to make the jump to F3 and this time Martell would not be in the mix. Luckily to replace them there would be rookie Ethan Ho and US F4 national series podium finisher, Nick Persing.
It was looking to be a very comfortable and solid weekend for William Ferguson after the 3 open practices on Friday, with a healthy 1.5 second gap on the clock. This race would also be Persing's first race back since his terrible crash two weeks before at Road America.
With one more test before qualifying, the drivers went out on a damp and slow track for morning warm up on Saturday. The track was drastically different once qualifying came around which proved to be difficult for some of the drivers. The majority of the session was under yellow or red flagged leaving only a couple laps out of the 20 minute session. Ferguson and Ho failed to set any laps without being bothered by traffic; Persing was then able to capitalize and grab pole position, leaving Ho in P2 and Ferguson P3.
Race one was all triumph for Nick Persing, taking control of the race while Ferguson struggled with traffic and air in his brake lines and Ho got tangled up in an incident with lap traffic. Persing would take the win putting Ferguson in second and Arthreya Ramanan in third.
Since Ferguson had the fastest lap in race one he would lead the field for race two with Persing starting second and Ho third. Ferguson was able to get the jump on Persing in the first couple laps but got held up in traffic and Persing was able to squeeze into the lead. After an amazing few laps of respectful, aggressive and clean battling between the two young guns, Ferguson was able to regain that first place position and for the remainder of the race he would continue to stretch out his lead until he brought home his second victory of the season with a 10 second lead to boot.
“I am Super excited to be able to bring home the win for VMB Driver Development and World Speed, and I’m looking forward to the next race at Sonoma June 18-20. Thank you Telo Stewart for all your support, Jan Trojan for being a great instructor and motivator, Suren Simonyan for working so hard to keep the #36 machine fast, and Steve Brisentine and Andy Brown at Chegg for making this all possible. I also want to thank my Mom and Dad for supporting me and my racing career these last 7 years.”