Third Podium for Nicole at Indianapolis

Nicole Havrda and the Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports team made their way to the temple of motorsports,  Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for Round Three of the 2024 FR Americas Championship.

Race 1
Qualifying saw Nicole line up ninth on the grid for the start of Saturday’s race. As the lights went out she was immediately up to eighth as she went through Turn 1.

As the field exited the final turn onto the main straight to start lap three, Nicole was right on the tail of the seventh place car. Going into Turn 1, she made her move to pass on the inside. It was all for nought though, as the Canadian driver spun, losing over ten seconds, and falling back to eleventh of the fourteen drivers.

She quickly recovered one postion on the next lap and, by the half way point, Nicole was back up to ninth.

With just over three minutes to go, Nicole once again attempted a pass going into Turn 1. This time she was succesful, taking eighth place, which she held through the chequered flag.

“It wasn’t how I wanted Race 1 to go,” she said. “I messed up going for a pass into Turn 1 and I had to work hard to make it back up,”

“My pace would have had had me in fourth, but there’s two more races to go, this weekend.” 

Race 2
Nicole lined up sixth for Sunday’s first race. As the lights went out to start the race, she held her position. Going through Turn 8, fifth place driver Theordor Jensen spun, allowing Nicole to take the position.

As the cars entered Turn 1 to start the second lap, Nicole managed to avoid being hit from behind by Hayden Bowlsbey, whose brakes were fully locked up in his pursuit of the BC native. Race chaos continued as a car spun and hit the wall at Turn 1, bringing out the safety car.

After a lengthy safety car period, the race – and the chaos – continued. Race leader Patrick Woods-Toth was battling with Titus Sherlock. Going into Turn 7, Sherlock took the lead, whereupon Woods-Toth was jumped on by Ryan Shehan. Contact between the two saw Woods-Toth spinning out of contention, promoting Nicole to fifth place.

A few turns later, Sherlock slowed exiting Turn 14, with Nicole now in fourth place.

The battle for second and third was now well underway. Justin Garat held third, but contact with second place Jett Bowling in Turn 7 saw him spin, allowing Nicole to pick up third spot. The Canadian driver was under heavy pressure from behind when a full-course caution was brought out near the halfway point of the race for a car which was beached at Turn 3.

With about 9 minutes to go, racing resumed. The fight for second and third was back on, and Nicole was at the head of a six car train. The young Canadian was soaking up the intense pressure from the pursuing cars. She even managed to pull out a bit of breathing space between her and the chasing pack.

As the cars started their final lap, Nicole, Nicolas Ambiado and Theodor Jensen – now recovered from his first lap spin – ran nose-to-gearbox with less than a second separating the three drivers. Entering Turn 1, Ambiado made a very late braking attempt and just managed to get past Nicole. However, his braking was so late that he locked up a wheel and spun, with Nicole reclaiming the position.

It wasn’t over yet for Nicole. Going into Turn 7, Jensen made a move on the young Canadian. She gave the Danish driver room, but held off the challenge and maintained her excellent third place position as she crossed the finish line.

Race 3
The start of the final race of the weekend saw Nicole in ninth after lap one – shuffled one place back from her eighth place grid position. However, by the end of lap two she was back up to eighth.

Lap two saw the cars of Ricco Shlaimoun and Landan Matriano Lim come together in Turn 6. The cars ended up in the tire barrier with one on top of the other. What started as a full course yellow quickly became a red flag race stoppage, as the safety crew worked to clear up the incident. When racing resumed, it would be a 10-minute sprint to the chequered flag.

The single file rolling restart saw Nicole lined up seventh. As they exited Turn 1, Nicole took advantage of the restart scuffle to move up to sixth.

For the next few laps, third-place Theodor Jensen and fourth-place Sherlock were locked in a tight nose-to-tail battle. Entering Turn 10, Sherlock made his move on Jenson and they were side-by-side through the turn. Sherlock ran wide on the exit of the corner, forcing Jensen onto the grass and into sixth place, as a quick thinking Nicole took full advantage to pass him for fifth; a position she maintained as she crossed the famous yard of bricks at the finish.

Following the race, the stewards reviewed the incident involving Sherlock and Jensen. They ruled that the Sherlock forced another competitor off the track, and issued him with a five-second penalty; promoting Nicole to a well deserved fourth place.

As a just reward for her excellent weekend – including her third podium in the series – Nicole was awarded the Omologato Perfectly-Timed Move of the Race and recognized by the stewards for an outstanding performance over the weekend. The award includes a bespoke Omologato timepiece. 

It is now a quick trip to Lexington, Ohio for this coming weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.