Callum Hedge will return to the United States tomorrow with the aim of securing the Formula Regional Americas Championship just days after featuring in the penultimate round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia at the Gold Coast 500.
Hedge leaves the event having dropped to second in the standings after a post-race penalty in Sunday’s enduro stripped him of the win, also resulting in a grid drop for that evening’s finale.
The Team Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport driver had started the weekend strongly, qualifying on pole for the opener over Luke Youlden. Title rival Jackson Walls, who entered the round six points behind the Kiwi, qualified seventh.
That points gap was extended in Race 1, which Hedge claimed after holding on through several restarts following Safety Car interventions.
He started the race well and led into Turn 1 before the first Safety Car was called when Pro-Am runner Matt Belford spun and made light contact with the barriers at the exit of the Beach Chicane on the second lap.
Harri Jone, Angelo Mouzouris and Thomas Maxwell were also casualties in a separate incident on the same lap, which saw all three retire.
Business resumed on the restart, with Dylan O’Keefe now running second, ahead of David Wall and Youlden.
Another caution was called shortly after, however, when Fabian Coulthard came together with Dale Wood, which also caught out a trailing Max Vidau.
The cleanup ultimately saw the race finish under yellow, with Hedge taking the win over O’Keefe and Wall, with Walls finishing sixth and falling to 35 points behind the Kiwi in the championship standings.
There were also several cautions in Sunday’s enduro, where the Kiwi had started from the pole.
The first came when Pro-Am entries Sam Shahin, Rodney Jane, Matt Belford and Kiwi Tim Miles all came together at Turn 11 after the former spun and was attempting to recover.
The second resulted in a heated exchange between Davison and Wall at Turn 11 after the two came together and the latter spun into the barriers. Simon Fallon, Harri Jones and Liam Talbot were left with nowhere to go at the exit of the blind corner, resulting in significant damage to all five cars.
Davison had approached Wall while he sat in his car following the impact, angrily slamming his door as he walked away. Once Wall emerged from the wreck, Jones was forced to step in between the pair to prevent any escalation.
The ensuing Safety Car and red flag hurt Hedge’s chances when the field was bunched with a 5-second penalty looming for cutting the opening chicane in a battle with O’Keefe for the lead laps earlier.
Bayley Hall would pass O’Keefe, as would Walls, to take the win once Hedge’s penalty had been applied and dropped him to tenth, which saw the championship lead swing to his rival by one point.
Hall backed up his maiden win with another in Sunday’s finale, topping McElrea Racing teammate Walls once again to take round honours.
Coulthard secured his first podium of 2023, in third, while Hedge worked forward during the intervention-free race to finish sixth.
Walls now holds a 21-point advantage over Hedge heading into the season-finale at the Adelaide 500; a track neither has raced on before.
In the meantime, Hedge will be kept busy with the final round of the Formula Regional Americas Championship at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, where he can claim the title and secure a $600,000 scholarship to use towards a Super Formula campaign by scoring as little as 24 points across three races.
A trip to Europe for the Porsche Junior Shootout follows the week after, where he faces off against top global talent for a paid seat in the Porsche Supercup series.
Header Image: Porsche Motorsport Australia