Dakota Dickerson: Changing gears

Written by Team USA. Posted in Dakota Dickerson, Driver Blogs, Feature

Published on July 18, 2017 with No Comments

SAN DIEGO – We are back! After unfortunately having to drop out of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda due to budget issues while holding down fifth in the points table, it feels great to be able to write to you all with news that we are back in a racecar!

We are now racing in the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda with Kiwi Motorsport/RJB Motorsports. The deal came together after spending some time with RJB Motorsports during the USF2000 weekend at Road America. Logistically, it was a great feat by everyone to put the program together in time for Rounds 7-9 of the F4 championship, because we only had one week to find a car, prep it, and get my licensing done before we headed off to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Luckily, MVL Motorsport and Jack William Miller Racing were kind enough to rent us one of their unused cars for the weekend.

Heading into the event, I didn’t have much time to prepare but I did manage to get on the sim for a few days to learn the very fast track. After our first session on track, it was very comforting to find that the F4 car handled similarly to cars I have raced in the past. I felt very much at home and we were also quite quick. The Kiwi Motorsport guys put together a great car from the get-go which gave us a lot of confidence rolling into qualifying. With nearly 30 cars in the field it was crucial to find some clear track, but likewise, also try and find someone to get a good draft on. On our last lap in qualifying we managed to just do that, giving us the pole position by nearly four-tenths of a second. It felt awesome to grab the pole for Kiwi Motorsport in our first attempt, but our work was still cut out for us.

Race One would be my first standing start since competing in the Walter Hayes Trophy with the Team USA Scholarship back in 2015; and I would be doing it from the pole. My main goal for the start was really just to not get passed. As the lights came on, I revved the engine, waited for the lights to go out and dropped the clutch. It wasn’t pretty but I did manage to hold the lead until Turn 5b when 2016 Team USA Scholarship driver Kyle Kirkwood got alongside me. We then had a drag race going up the Mario Andretti Straightaway. As Kyle and I were side by side, the guys in third and fourth place got a huge draft off of us and made it four-wide going into one of the fastest corners on track. It was nerve racking but an awesome feeling. I decided to back off knowing that I would be able to do the same to them on the next lap. Little did I know that we would only get two more green flag laps as the majority of the race was spent behind the pace car. We ended our first F4 race in fourth position with second fastest lap time. While it was certainly a good result, and the first points for Kiwi Motorsport, it wasn’t what we were expecting with how quick we were in qualifying and practice.

Being back on the podium was a tremendous feeling.

For Race Two, we started off pole next to Kirkwood. I got a much better start this time around and stayed with Kyle throughout the early stages until another full-course caution interrupted the race. On the restart, I had a bit of pressure from the car behind which allowed Kyle to get out away from us and we didn’t have the pace to catch him before we again had a full-course caution that would end the race. This was my first time back on the podium in a formula car in nearly two years and it felt great! The guys at Kiwi Motorsport, RJB Motorsports and Metalloid were also super-pumped to have such an excellent showing.

Alongside Kyle Kirkwood on the front row for Race Three.

The final race of the weekend found us in very tricky conditions leading up to the event. A thunderstorm had just rolled through so the track and paddock looked very wet but the sun was out and the skies looked decently clear. With less than 30 minutes before race start, we decided to make a slight change to our setup in case it rained. We started the race on slick tires and, due to the damp conditions, completed a rolling start. I had no clue how much grip the track would have with our slick tires but I was not going to let Kirkwood get a jump on me due to my being too cautious. So I went through Turns One and Two as if it was dry! Luckily for me, the track had a surprising amount of grip and we were back to running times that were close to the other races. Unfortunately, Kyle was just a bit quicker than us and he started to pull away. Again, we had a full-course caution which I thought might be my chance to jump Kyle but unfortunately, with heavy rain falling again, it brought us through to the checkered flag. That being said, it was another podium finish which felt great in our first F4 US Championship weekend.

The Kiwi Motorsport guys gave me a great car and I am super-thankful for the opportunity that was put together with the help of RJB Motorsports and Metalloid Corporation. It feels great to be back in the car again and we are going to be working extremely hard to keep it that way.

Dakota

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