NA: Winter Series Sebring race one report

Victory for Robert Bell. Round 1 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series. Sebring, Florida, January 26, 2003 -- British driver Robert Bell captured victory in the opening round of the 2003 Fran-Am and Formula Renault 2000 International Winter Series...

Victory for Robert Bell.
Round 1 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series.

Sebring, Florida, January 26, 2003 -- British driver Robert Bell captured victory in the opening round of the 2003 Fran-Am and Formula Renault 2000 International Winter Series held yesterday on Sebring's road course.

However, the results of the race are still unofficial today because of a malfunctioning of the electronic timing system. Race stewards were forced to verify the teams' manual lap charts to verify the position of each car at each lap. Additionally, a post race technical disqualification prevented the race stewards to issue official results.

The weather was fine and warm in Sebring, Florida when the cars lined up on the grid for the start of the 12-lap race. The field of 36 cars took the standing start with Argentina's Juan Martin Ponte on pole position. The race was hardly fought, especially at the front of the field. Ponte -- who competed in the Italian Formula Renault Championship last year -- and Bell -- a two-time British Formula Renault Winter Series Champion -- battled fiercely for the lead all race long.

At the end of the race, 23-year old Robert Bell -- driving for British Team Firstair -- crossed the line in first place. Unofficially, American Jeff Simmons from New York arrived in second place, followed by 21-year old James Murphy from Ireland. Toronto's Dan McMullen drove hard to finish fifth.

Round 2 will be held this afternoon, starting at 1 p.m.

The Winter Series is opened to Fran-Am and Formula Renault single seaters powered by two-litre engines. These race cars are powered by 185-horsepower, four-cylinder Renault engines, are fitted with front and rear wings and are shod on slick Michelin tires. The competitors are amongst the world's best up and coming race car drivers who will soon be the next Formula 1 and CART Series' drivers. The drivers compete for a cash prize fund of U.S. $100,000 and a free test drive in the new Formula Renault V6 car in Europe.

-www.fran-am.com.

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Dan McMullen , Jeff Simmons , James Murphy , Juan Martin Ponte