Ryan Yardley scored two podiums in his first Formula Regional Americas race meeting at Virginia over the weekend.
The Christchurch driver finished third and second in the two races on Saturday, his first time racing at the circuit and in the championship.
“Bloody good,” Yardley told Velocity News about the weekend.
“We were not too sure where I’d end up this weekend, but it was above mine and the team’s expectations.”
Formula Regionals is Yardley’s first international championship since the 2018 Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
The Kiwi Motorsport driver was put against some of the best junior single-seater talents who are currently vying for the chance to race in the Japanese Super Formula series.
Four unofficial practice sessions on Thursday gave Yardley a feel for the twists and turns of Virginia International Raceway.
Fortunately, Formula Regional uses the same Formula 3 car Yardley has raced with in the Pro Western series this year. So, it was only the track that he had to learn.
“I was surprised how quickly I did learn [the circuit]. But Thursday was awesome. We were in the top five in just about every session.”
Friday had one official practice and qualifying.
Yardley topped the morning’s practice before qualifying third later in the day.
“I was in P1 for the first ten minutes before Josh Carr and [Jordan Missig] went faster.
“I was gutted not to get pole. It was two-tenths between me and pole. I probably pushed too hard in one corner to find those two tenths and overheated the tyres.
“But I was happy with third. I knew that if I qualified on the first two rows then I could be in with a good chance in the race.”
Saturday saw the first two races of the weekend take place.
Yardley bounced back from an average start in race one to hold P3.
He maintained that position till the chequered flag, saying he lacked “the raw pace to get to P2.”
Race two was more hectic and punctuated by two safety car periods.
Starting fifth, Yardley was up into the podium spots before the first caution came out.
He worked his way into P2 before setting off on his chase of race leader Ernie Francis.
A late safety car put paid to Yardley’s charge, and he followed Francis across the line in second.
“Sometimes safety cars work in your favour and sometimes they don’t,” he said.
“The pace was there to win.”
Yardley was eager to win heading into the weekend’s final race on Sunday. He knew he had the speed to do so, even if his experience was significantly less than that of his rivals.
He made one position off the line to run in third for the first few laps.
But a mistake at turn 10 dropped Yardley back to seventh, where he would eventually finish.
“I tried to downshift for the corner but must have still had some throttle body percentage on and I understeered off.”
Still, he was elated with his debut performance.
“Gutted [with race three] but I never thought I would get two podiums.
“This was the first [Formula Regional] weekend for Kiwi Motorsport, and we knew we would be up there, but it was cool to get the podiums for them.”
Yardley now heads back to the team’s base in Dallas, Texas.
He is confirmed to race in the final Formula Regional round at Circuit of the Americas in November.
All he wants before the season is over is to finish on the top step of the rostrum.
“I’m as desperate as ever to get a win. So, hopefully we can do just that at COTA.”