F3 Americas launches car; confirms April 2018 debut at VIR

Photo: F3 Americas/SCCA Pro Racing
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Following up the announcement in September that there’d be another announcement, the Formula 3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda today both launched its car and announced its debut race date of April 27, 2018.

This will be on the same weekend card as the F4 U.S. Championship and Pirelli World Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

The SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned series is termed a regional F3 series by the FIA, with top drivers awarded FIA Super License points.

The formal car launch along with further series details occurred today at Circuit of The Americas, as part of F4’s season finale weekend with Formula 1 at the United States Grand Prix.

F3 Americas will feature two 30-minute races per weekend, with 30-minute practices and qualifying sessions. In addition to the debut race at VIR, there will be five race weekends at prestigious tracks around the United States. There will be two series-supported season tests, one to be held prior to the first race, and the other during the season.

The Honda-powered, Pirelli tire-shod Ligier Crawford JS F3 chassis is made in North Carolina and developed by Onroak Automotive, at its U.S. base. Onroak Automotive has established a major foothold in the domestic and international sports car world with its Ligier JS P2, then Ligier JS P3 and Ligier JS P217 LMP2 and LMP3 chassis at the FIA WEC, IMSA and ELMS series levels, and other chassis beyond that in smaller championships.

F3 Americas lists the full car’s price at $119,800. The budget goes up slightly when you factor in the cost of running the series itself and traveling to the six race weekends; nonetheless the target is to establish a cost-effective championship to build on what F4’s done over the last two years. Those grids have gone from the mid-teens to start to the mid-30s, pushing 40 cars this year.

With the confirmation of the car and the two series, Onroak Automotive also has established the Ligier Championship 2018 Scholarship, which will award $500,000 in scholarships.

The 2018 F4 U.S. champion will receive a $100,000 scholarship to graduate to F3 Americas, and then the 2018 F3 Americas champion and runner-up will both receive a $200,000 scholarship to move into F3 international or LMP3.

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”