US driver Spike Kohlbecker first came to New Zealand 18 months ago, competing in the 2018/19 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship with Motorsport Solutions. Twelve months later he was back competing in the 2020 Castrol toyota Racing Series (TRS) with Kiwi Motorsport.
Now the young American has announced that he will continue his partnership with Kiwi Motorsport and compete in the 2020 Formula 4 United States Championship powered by Honda which gets its delayed start underway 17-19 July at Virginia International Raceway.
What is your expectation heading into the F4 season?
“I know it’s going to be a challenge for a few reasons. I’ve never raced on any of the F4 tracks we will run on this year, and I’ve never raced in the US period. I know that’s a disadvantage for me. I counted my car races up the other day and I’ve been in nearly 80 races in six different countries, but my next race is probably my most important race – my first race in the US. And I’ve only spent a few hours in an F4 car so no doubt the move from the FT-60 TRS car to F4 will be a challenge. However, there is only one goal, and that’s to win the championship.”
Now that you’ve had a chance for the TRS season to sink in, what are your thoughts on TRS?
“I absolutely loved my first season in TRS and I wish the season would have gone on for a few more weeks! Truth is there were really only two rookies in the series and that was me and Chelsea (Herbert). The rest of the drivers had at least a full season on us and the few that had not run F3 or F4 before had plenty of seat time. I’ll be anxious for next year – If my sponsors want me back in TRS I will expect to be up front as I was at the Grand Prix. I follow lots of series around the world and I’m not sure there is a better series than TRS.”
Why US Formula 4 and not Formula 3?
“The F4 program here in the States will be a good place for me to get acclimated to the US tracks and get lots of seat time. I’m expecting big fields like last year and lots of great racing which is really what I was looking for. It’s great to see how the F4 and FR Americas (Formula Regional) series have gained so much momentum and how much Honda is supporting the program. It’s what US racing needed. “
“I am very fortunate that my sponsors that supported me during the TRS series are also going to support me in F4. With all the changes in the racing season this year and the overall impact that COVID-19 has had on all of us I feel very fortunate to have their support. You’ll recognize the car livery when you see it, I promise!”
What team will you be with?
“Kiwi Motorsport … Garry, Teena and I, along with the whole Kiwi crew got along really well during the TRS series. If you look at our progress over the five weeks in the series that’s because we worked together as a team – we were always focused on getting better … one corner at a time. I also couldn’t pass up the chance to get teamed up with my New Zealand engineer Tim Neff again. From the beginning, Tim understood me, the objectives, and laid out a plan for success. Tim gets it – he knows racing and he understands my driving style”.
What are your future plans?
“The goal is to win F4 and get the support from Honda to run in FR Americas in the US. That’s really my focus for now. After TRS I had some great offers to run in Europe and while it was really tempting, my sponsors were looking to have more of a US presence in 2020 plus I’m really excited to make my US racing debut and get to race on some amazing American tracks. “
TRS next year?
“I’d love to have another shot at it for sure. I showed I can run up front with the best junior drivers in the world despite having less experience. We’ll see how this year plays out but a repeat in TRS would be a dream come true.”
Kohlbecker’s first race in the Formula 4 United States Championship powered by Honda is scheduled for Virginia International Raceway (17-19 July) with subsequent races at Barber Motorsports Park (July 31 – Aug 2), and Sebring International Raceway (25-27 Sept).
Two additional race weekends are pending rescheduling before the season concludes at the prestigious Circuit of the Americas – United States Grand Prix on October 23-25.