The first event of the 2020 YACademy F4 Winter Series Presented by Hankook has come and gone with much success for the Velocity Racing Development program. Competing at the Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) in Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday, and slated to run at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Thursday, the Atlanta, Georgia based program found their way to the podium with three different competitors.
With three drivers competing at the first event of the four-day series, Kyffin Simpson, Erik Evans and VRD Academy driver Nikita Johnson gained experience and knowledge both on and off the track. Leading the way for the potent program was Simpson as he claimed a second-place result in qualifying and went on to score third and second place podium finishes in races one and three. Falling to fourth in the second wheel-to-wheel action of the weekend, Simpson was easily in the top-three on the speed charts as the rookie driver aims for much success in 2020.
Erik Evans continues to learn as he too is making the transition from karts to cars. Consistently in the top-five on the results chart, Evans turned his fifth-place qualifying effort into a third-place podium result in the second race. Claiming fifth place finishes in rounds one and three, Evans will learn from his on-track experiences and look for more as he heads into the season.
VRD Academy driver Nikita Johnson debuted with the team’s testing program in late 2019 and turned his first laps in wheel-to-wheel racing on Tuesday. Showing his will to learn, Johnson was able to work on open wheel driving technique, braking, and gather experience in passing, drafting and race starts.
“Great experience for our team so far and awesome to be able to have a platform to bring new drivers up to speed,” explained VRD’s Dan Mitchell. “With race starts, inverted grids and procedure scenarios, the drivers racing this week will be well ahead of others. We will continue on our testing efforts as we head towards the start of the national season in early April.
The second race day in the four-day program would take place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida. Looking to improve on their results, VRD’s Hunter Yeany was the driver to beat. Going three for three on the day, Yeany claimed a trio of victories in three wheel-to-wheel sessions on the day. Showing maturity beyond his years, Yeany will look to punch well above his weight when the F4 United States Championship Powered by Honda season starts.
Erik Evans added three podium results to Yeany’s three victories making it a six-podium day for the VRD program. Claiming a third-place result in race one, Evans made it a one – two finish for the Atlanta based team in race two chasing Yeany across the line and locking out the top two steps of the podium. Returning to the track for race three later that day, Evans found his way back to the podium, this time in P3.
Mitchell added, “Solid day for Hunter and Erik. Incredible to see Hunter’s progress from a year ago until now and Erik’s just in the past month. This shows the strength of our efforts and our commitment to driver development.
Kyffin Simpson and VRD Academy driver Nikita Johnson each scored top-five results. Simpson put three VRD drivers in the top-four in race one finishing third while Johnson did the same in race two on the day. Johnson returned to the top-five in race three finishing fifth, just ahead of Simpson.
For more information on Velocity Racing Development and to find information on how to be involved with their F4 US Championship Powered by Honda or F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda programs, please feel free to contact Daniel Mitchell via email to Dan@DanMitchellMotorsport.com or by phone to 954.594.2686.
Photo: Gavin Baker Photography