AVONDALE, La. (March 11, 2023) Ryan Shehan won the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) season opener at NOLA Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old returned to America just a few weeks ago after spending the winter in New Zealand to race in the Formula Regional Oceania Championship.

With a strong weekend so far, Shehan (No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3) paced opening practice before taking the pole position in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. A quick jump at lights out placed him in control of the race before the field even reached Turn 1.

Nick Persing (No. 29 OPI Commercial Builders Inc. Ligier JS F3) held the pressure during the early laps of the race, but fatigue started to kick in for the driver who had already completed three track sessions in the 80-degree temperatures, including two Radical Cup North America races. By lap 8, Shehan finally opened up a 1.117-second lead, which he steadily grew lap after lap.

Meanwhile, as the laps ticked down, Persing found himself feeling the pressure of a closing Cooper Becklin (No. 19 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F3). Once separated by over a second, Becklin had closed the gap to just a few car lengths with less than three minutes left in the race. In an intense battle, both drivers took turns locking their brakes before Becklin finally pulled side-by-side with Persing heading into Turn 1 while racing toward the white flag. With Persing in the better line, Becklin was unable to complete the pass, leaving Persing to claim the second position.

As they crossed the line, it was Shehan, followed by Persing, and then Becklin, to each claim their first podium finish of the 2023 season.

“I saw Nick in my mirrors for a good chunk of the race and then he just kind of disappeared,” said Shehan from the podium. “I couldn’t tell how close he was, so I just kept going. I knew that if I backed off there was a chance that he could catch back up. I kept pushing until I took the white flag, and I’m just so thankful to take this win. I have to thank the whole team at Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport. The fact that we can come out here and be competitive in our first race shows how good of a team they are, and how good their preparation is.”

READ MORE: Race 1 Official Results

FR Americas returns to the track tomorrow for Race 2 at 10:55 a.m. CT, followed by Race 3 at 2:45 p.m. CT. Follow the championship on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or watch Race Monitor for live timing and scoring. This weekend’s races are streaming free at YouTube.com/SpeedTourTV.

WATCH THE STREAM: FR Americas Race 1