15-year-old racer Kyffin Simpson scored two impressive top-ten results in his FIA Formula Regional Americas race debut with HMD Motorsports at Sebring International Raceway, 25th-27th September 2020. Asserting himself as one to watch, the Bajan took the chequered flag to place 7th, 11th and 9th across the weekend’s three 35-minute race events, despite being the least experienced driver of the field.
Rounds 9, 10 and 11 of the FIA FR Americas Championship featured six sessions at the famed Sebring circuit, with two timed practice sessions on Friday preceding timed qualifying on Saturday morning. In line with other FIA series including Formula 1, the three races that followed awarded top-ten drivers with championship points; 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.
Kyffin began his weekend with a strong showing at the wheel of his #59 HMD Motorsports Ligier JS F3 machine, placing 5th in the opening practice session, 0.15s faster than teammate David Malukas. As the field got up to speed in Practice 2, Kyffin remained within 1s of the pacesetters Malukas and Danial Frost to set the 7th fastest time.
As the weekend’s goal for Kyffin was that of experience, not outright results, the team elected to save tires ahead of Saturday’s Round 9 by running only two laps in Qualifying. This awarded Simpson a valuable tire advantage as the #59 lined up 13th on the grid for its first FR Americas outing.
Starting Race 1 well, Kyffin overcame initial brake balance issues to begin picking off cars in a stunning charge through the field. The Bajan driver overtook six cars in a 10-lap period, eventually crossing the line placed 7th just 0.4s behind championship leader Linus Lundqvist. A fastest lap of 2:03.120s was enough to secure a 5th place start for Race 2, but unfortunately for Kyffin, his second race would prove to be short-lived.
After a great launch off the grid, wheelspin in the second phase of the race start allowed #15 Jacob Abel to pass around the outside into Turn 1. Kyffin returned the favour at Turn 10, but barely a lap later, heavy contact from behind took the #59 out of the race with the #48 and #68. Kyffin and his competitors were lucky to escape unharmed, a testament to manufacturer Ligier and the FIA for its ‘halo’ protection device, but the damage was severe enough to seemingly side-line all involved for Race 3.
Despite a handful of hours left between races to prepare, HMD Motorsports successfully rebuilt the #59 to race once again from 11th on the grid. Kyffin’s car setup wasn’t optimised for the Sebring circuit due to the hurried repairs, but the Bajan was able to hang on for a 9th-place finish – and 2 duly-deserved championship points.
“Overall it was a great first weekend with the team. The results from practice and Race 1 show our potential to run in the top-five straight away, so that’s very encouraging. HMD did an amazing job to repair the car in time for Race 3 and I gave it everything I had to keep it in the points. Obviously, big thanks go to the team and everyone that helped us finish the weekend on a high. I’m looking forward to Homestead!”Kyffin Simpson, #59 HMD Motorsports driver
Kyffin’s next race event takes place October 2nd-4th 2020 at Homestead Miami Speedway, FL, for Rounds 12, 13 and 14 of the FR Americas Championship. Watch the event on fanracing.live and follow @FR_Americas on Twitter for updates.