NA 2000: Phoenix Thursday practice notes

Ponte Atop Phoenix Practice Juan Ponte of Argentina continued to show his Phoenix prowess as he scored the fastest lap of the day in practice for the opening round race of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship at ...

Ponte Atop Phoenix Practice

Juan Ponte of Argentina continued to show his Phoenix prowess as he scored the fastest lap of the day in practice for the opening round race of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship at Phoenix International Raceway today. Ponte was also the fastest driver in Wednesday's promoter test day, and is looking to convert his speed early in the weekend into a victory in Saturday's race.

The top ten drivers were within one second of Ponte's time on the 1.51-mile infield road circuit, so he knows that he will have to continue to improve in order to secure the pole position in Friday's qualifying session.

"We are still working on getting the understeer out of the car, but we were faster today than we were yesterday despite the track being slower overall, so its good," said Ponte. "My teammate was also very fast, so we feel like we have a good setup, but there are a lot of guys close behind, so we will have to work on the car tonight to get the pole for the race."

Ricardo Imery was second in today's practice, while series newcomer Marcos Gomes continued to impress in his series debut with the third quickest time of the day in his GTI/Roshfrans machine. Gelles Racing's affable Gustavo Sondermann was fourth quick on the day, with Mark Wilkins powering his Aim Autosport machine to fifth for the day.

Fifteen drivers took part in the session, and continued to demonstrate their high level of talent, as the two sessions ran without incident on Thursday, continuing the good form shown during the promoter test day, which saw the drivers rack up an impressive five hours of track time unhindered by any yellow flag-causing incidents.

The drivers will return to the track tomorrow to set the field for Saturdays 1:25 p.m. race during the qualifying session, which is slated to get underway at 12:30 p.m. local time.

The North American Formula Renault Championships are sanctioned by Grand American, and provide a ladder for drivers to develop their talent, with a full in-house open-wheel progression available. The 2004 season will get underway April 8-10 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Formula Renault V6 Championship is the top rung on the North American Formula Renault Championship ladder, which also includes the North American Formula Renault 1600 Championship and the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship. The Formula Renault V6 is expected to make its North American competition debut in the latter stages of the2004 North American Formula Renault 2000 season.

<pre> Pos No. Name Overall BestTm In Session 1 50 Juan Martin Ponte 58.113 Practice 2 2 7 Ricardo Imery 58.263 Practice 2 3 20 Marcos Gomes 58.292 Practice 2 4 4 Gustavo Sondermann 58.421 Practice 1 5 34 Mark Wilkins 58.659 Practice 1 6 1 Dan McMullen 58.696 Practice 2 7 51 Aurelio Lopez 58.710 Practice 1 8 9 Renato Jader David 59.049 Practice 1 9 2 Brandon Thomas 59.051 Practice 1 10 14 Antoine Bessette 59.100 Practice 2 11 10 German Quiroga 59.314 Practice 2 12 8 Nick Bussell 59.375 Practice 1 13 3 Michael Yager 59.505 Practice 2 14 25 Scott Robertson 1:00.378 Practice 1 15 15 Robert Siska 1:02.528 Practice 1

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Aurelio Lopez , German Quiroga , Dan McMullen , Antoine Bessette , Juan Martin Ponte , Ricardo Imery , Scott Robertson , Mark Wilkins , Robert Siska , Nick Bussell , Marcos Gomes