AVONDALE, Louisiana, (March 12, 2023) - Last weekend’s 2023 Formula 4 US Championship Powered by Honda at NOLA Motorsports Park marked the debut auto racing event for karting champion Matthew Higgins, as well as the first event for the Era Motorsport Driver Development program.
After having only driven in the series test at NOLA in January, Higgins hopped in the No. 18 Ligier JS F4 and immediately began getting comfortable in the larger, more powerful vehicle.
Held as part of the NOLA SpeedTour, the F4 US Championship had over 30 entries competing across four days, with three test sessions on Thursday, two practice sessions Friday, Qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday, and Races 2-3 on Sunday.
The test sessions on Thursday allowed Higgins to get comfortable in the car again, but were cut short by two red flags each in sessions two and three. Practice the next day and qualifying after that would be similarly frustrating as red flags continued to take away from the valuable track time.
Despite this, the Era crew set about fine tuning the car after each session, learning the setup changes necessary, and the workflow improvements needed as they entered into the F4 US Championship for the first time.
Saturday would be the highlight of the weekend, where Higgins moved from 15th to 11th place twice in Race 1, missing the points cutoff by just one position in his first race in the car.
Unfortunately Saturday brought mechanical issues that kept the car from entering Race 2, and left the team starting at the back of the grid for the 25-minute Race 3, at which point the team treated it as another practice session to continue getting the necessary seat time.
“It’s a big learning curve,” said Higgins of the F4 US Championship, “but our first race is out of the way. It’s a shame about the final results, but we’ll learn.”
“I have to thank the crew for all the hard work they’ve put in, I feel like we’ve learned a lot, and now we’ll be better prepared for the next one.”
Along for the event was Higgins’ father, 10-time US rally champion David Higgins, who added, “It’s important to realize that the car, the team, Matt, it’s all brand new to everyone here. Not only does he have to learn the car, but so does the team.
“So to come out here and run all weekend at a good pace, get a race under our belts, learn the car, and how the series works, I’d say it was a massively successful weekend.”
The next stop for the team is the Road America SpeedTour from May 18th through the 23st, where the team hopes to utilize the lessons learned from NOLA to improve their result, and score some points.