A memorable podium finish in the final race of the weekend during the second round of the US Formula 4 championship has reignited the spark in Ronan Murphy with the young Kiwi now determined to take the fight to front runners over the rest of the season.
Murphy started on the front row of the grid in the final 10-lap race around Virginia International Raceway, falling to fourth in the opening stages.
However, the race was punctuated by three separate Safety Car periods, on which Murphy was able to slim the margin to the podium runners before muscling his way past Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport stablemate Jose Blanco to snare third at the line.
It was a much improved weekend for Murphy, with a significant improvement over his opening round woes which featured a rained-out race one before retiring with suspension damage in the finale.
Changes don’t come overnight but the 18-year-old accredits a shift in his mentality heading into the weekend raised his confidence and allowed him to attack more freely in the races.
“Since Round 1, I changed the way I prepared, as well as my mindset going into the weekend,” Murphy told Velocity News.
“We also had more time on track which meant I had more time to get to know the track and make a few changes that set us up a lot better for the weekend.”
Though like round one, a disappointing qualifying session where Murphy could only muster the 17th quickest lap time meant the Kiwi was mired among the midfield for the opening race, where he eventually moved up six spots to finish 11th.
“Qualifying was disappointing again, but I still believed that I had good race pace, so I was really looking forward to getting into it.
“The first two races were sort of what could have been, as they were looking good for top 10s, but due to a penalty and some mistakes I made, it didn’t happen.”
The final two races of the weekend were determined by fastest lap times from the previous race.
Despite retiring from the second race just five laps from the chequered flag, Murphy set a lap time competitive enough to land him a second-place start for the final race.
From there, Murphy was able to survive a chaotic final race and three Safety Car restarts to take his first podium finish in the series.
“I managed to put in a lap quick enough to put me on P2 for the final race of the weekend and came home with the podium which was awesome.
“I was definitely a lot happier with the car over the weekend and believe I can take it to the top few drivers, but again, it’s just going to come down to doing a better job in qualifying and getting near the front, to set myself up for the races going forward at the next few rounds.”
Murphy won’t have to be waiting too long for his next podium fight with round three of the US F4 championship slated for July 31 – August 2 around Barber Motorsport Park.