Callum Hedge’s difficult decision to miss the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia round at Bathurst and instead focus on his Formula Regional Americas Championship has proved a good one to make, with the Kiwi claiming two victories at Virginia International Raceway over the weekend.
Despite failing to finish Race 3, Hedge retains the championship lead by 51 points over closest rival Ryan Shehan. He can wrap the title up if he wins the opening race of the season-finale at Circuit of the Americas next month.
Hedge immediately went on the front foot from Friday’s qualifying, claiming the pole for the opening race over Shehan by 0.223 seconds.
He would go on to convert this to a race victory, but that didn’t come without difficulty, with the Kiwi forced to recover from a late race spin to work his way back into the lead.
Hedge had led Shehan off the start, but his Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport teammate remained on his tail throughout the opening exchanges. That changed when, with 12 minutes to run, Hedge locked up entering Oak Tree and spun through the grass.
Shehan took the lead and built a seven-second advantage, which was quickly wiped out when a full-course caution was called for a separate incident.
The American would retain the lead off the restart until running into problems of his own at Oak Tree, dropping him to third and returning the lead to the Kiwi.
A late caution made for a one-lap sprint to the line, which Hedge controlled to come home for his tenth win of the campaign. Shahan recovered to finish second to keep the pressure on at the top of the championship standings.
“It’s probably safe to say that I didn’t deserve to win today,” Hedge explained on the podium. “I haven’t made too many mistakes this year. I was going to go for fastest lap that lap, but I went a couple meters too deep, got halfway through the corner and realized I was facing backwards.”
While Race 1 was full of drama, Race 2 was the opposite, with Hedge controlling proceedings from the start to claim a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Shehan.
“This afternoon we made a few changes; had a few issues to fix in between the races,” explained Hedge after the race. “We had a crack in the valve housing that we had to fix up during the break. The car felt really good from lap one.
“I finally made a good start—which was nice—and I never really looked back. I just want to say a big thank you to the Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport for the good car and the people that make it happen for me—Giltrap Group, Tony Quinn Foundation and Tasman Motorsports Group.”
Hedge could have claimed the title in the event’s final race but will instead be left to wait until the last round if he is to do so.
Having led off the start, the Kiwi had built a lead of 1.5 seconds by the end of the first lap. The gap continued to grow as Shehan was forced to battle Cooper Becklin behind until smoke appeared out the back of Hedge’s car as he exited Oak Tree Bend, and by the time he got to the top of the Roller Coaster, he made contact with the tyre barrier.
Damage from the incident forced him to the lane to retire from the race.
Becklin claimed his first Formula Regional Americas race win in 39 attempts, coming home ahead of Shehan and Hayden Bowlsbey, who claimed his first career podium.
Hedge needs to score just 24 points across three races at Circuit of the Americas to win the title and the $600,000 scholarship fund to use towards a Super Formula campaign.
The final round of the 2023 Formula Regional Americas Championship takes place on November 2-4.
Header Image: Formula Regional Americas