He’s been on the sidelines for more than eight months – but now, following arguably the strangest build-up to a season in modern times, Linus Lundqvist is finally back on track. This weekend marks the start of the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda, and with it, a new chapter for Sweden’s latest American racing export.
Postponed by over two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season-opening event takes place amid strict virus restrictions – but with spectators on site – at the undulating Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Much like all the other tracks on the 2020 calendar, the 2.4-mile road course outside Lexington, Ohio, marks brand new territory for Linus Lundqvist, who only arrived in the States just over a week ago.
“It’s been a longer road to this race, both literally and figuratively, than to any other I’ve ever done – but that also makes me appreciate all the more actually being here,” says Linus Lundqvist. “This will be such a special season for me: a new car, new tracks, a new team, new country and a new environment. It is going to be a challenge, but I really, really look forward to it. I don’t think I’ve ever missed racing as much as I do right now.”
Formula Regional Americas enjoys the enviable position of having actually increased its grid numbers across the coronavirus crisis, with a full 19 cars expected to hit the track for round one of the campaign – more than ever before.
The sheer numbers also come with a series of late high-profile driver additions, including 2015 Pro Mazda champion Santiago Urrutia (Uruguay) – already a two-time runner-up in INDYCAR’s ultimate feeder series Indy Lights.
A scholarship to join the 2021 Indy Lights grid, courtesy of engine manufacturer Honda, will be up for grabs for this year’s FR Americas title-winner.
“My target is to fight for the title and scholarship this year, but I certainly don’t take anything for granted,” Linus Lundqvist continues. “We can see now that some very fast drivers have been joining in lately, including some of the top guys from Indy Lights, and that’s inspiring. It really raises the bar and it’s a good benchmark for me as a newcomer to racing in the USA.”
Heading into this weekend’s curtain-raiser, Lundqvist has only driven his Ligier-built single-seater on two short mornings of running at a recent Arizona test arranged by his new team Global Racing Group.
The mainly-orange-liveried squad will run five drivers in the championship this year: Lundqvist, Formula Atlantic champion Dario Cangialosi (USA), Formula 4 graduate Nicky Hays (USA), James Roe (IRE) and last year’s FR Americas runner-up Benjamin Pedersen (DEN).
While the Arizona test took place in extreme heat with temperatures soaring close to 45C, the weather is expected to be vastly different at Mid-Ohio, where rain is being forecast to complicate matters still for series, car and track rookie Lundqvist.
“The most important thing this weekend is just getting up to speed, working with the team to ensure we have a solid baseline,” Lundqvist concludes. “I’d love to go all out for a win, but I’m prepared to play the long game here. Let’s see what the weather brings. I am yet to even drive the car in the wet, and I’ve never sat foot at Mid-Ohio, so it could be interesting. I hope the conditions will be consistent across the weekend, whatever they are, so that I can get some relevant laps in practice. I will take it session by session, try to avoid any mistakes, and bring home a solid points score.”
FR Americas action begins with a 30-minute practice session on Thursday, followed by another practice outing on Friday. The schedule for the season-opener includes two 35-minute races; one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The grid for Race 1 will be determined by Friday’s qualifying session, while the starting order for Race 2 is based on each driver’s fastest lap time in the opening heat.
The FR Americas points system is identical to that in Formula 1, with the top ten scoring according to the 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Live streaming will be available at https://fanracing.live for all races of the season. There is also a dedicated “Race Centre” portal at http://www.linuslundqvistracing.se, featuring the live streaming links as well as timing details, the latest results and more.
ALL TIMES LOCAL (US Eastern)
Formula Regional Americas | Rd. 1
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA)
Thursday 25 June
Free Practice 1: 4.00-4.30 pm
Friday 26 June
Free Practice 2: 9.40-10.05 am
Qualifying: 2.50-3.10 pm
Saturday 27 June
Race 1: 9.40 am (35 min)
Sunday 28 June
Race 2: 12.05 pm (35 min)