Australian Lochie Hughes has sealed victory in the 2022 Formula 4 United States Championship, securing the title at Circuit of the Americas.
The Gold Coaster finished sixth in Race 1, before provisionally taking the title with victory in Race 2, clinching the championship with a win in the final race of the season, which was held on November 4.
The Jay Howard Driver Development pilot's campaign consisted of six victories, five fastest laps, and two pole positions.
“That was awesome,” the 2019 Australian Formula 4 Championship runner-up said.
“All thanks to the team for the great car, and what a great season. I can't ask for more. [Winning the championship] means a lot.
“I didn't race the last two years. I was stuck at home during COVID and didn't have the budget to go racing.
“To win the championship is unbelievable.”
After qualifying second, Hughes ultimately finished sixth in Race 1, however took the points lead after title contender, Bryson Morris, was found to have exceeded track limits, resulting in a five-second penalty.
Fighting back from the sixth-place finish in Race 1, Hughes charged through the field in the #6 Ligier JS F4, gaining two positions on the opening lap, before moving into third on Lap 2, and second on Lap 3.
He challenged Morris for the lead as the pair entered Turn 1 on Lap 5, making the move stick to take the chequered flag ahead of Morris, with Andre Castro rounding out the podium.
A post-race investigation found that Morris had crossed the blend line at pit exit to gain a position, leading to another five-second penalty which saw him classified seventh, with Castro elevated to second and Alex Berg third.
Now wearing #1 on his car, Hughes capped off the season with a lights-to-flag victory in Race 3, taking the chequered flag ahead of Jacob Loomis and Castro.
After a solid start, the wet weather-declared race was marred by an incident on the back straight which saw full-course yellow flags. Hughes once again led the way from the restart, keeping Loomis, and Castro at bay for the balance of the seven-lap encounter.
Hughes will undertake a US F2000 National Championship campaign with Jay Howard's Driver Development programme next year.