Lally puts Fran-Am cars through their paces
Aspen, CO (December 21, 2001) - Open wheel and sports car star Andy Lally recently completed two days of testing in the Fran-Am 1600 and 2000 cars at Buttonwillow Raceway, near Bakersfield, California. Lally, whose background includes US F2000 and CART Toyota Atlantic as well as winning the Team USA Scholarship, was selected to provide a baseline for prospective candidates seeking to participate in either the Fran-Am 1600 or 2000 Championship Series in 2002.
"Both Fran-Am cars are definitely state-of-the-art race cars," said Lally, who most recently captured this year's Grand-Am SRII sports car championship. "The 1600 car is a blast. With its short wheelbase and wide track, it drives like a big shifter kart. It's very nimble, easy to adapt to and would make the ideal step for kart racers looking to make their way into full-size cars.
"The Fran-Am 2000 car is much more sophisticated, but it's also very forgiving. Granted, we didn't really have the right spring package or set-up for Buttonwillow, but the car responded very well to every change we made, and has all the potential in the world. Everything, from the no-lift-shift, to the sequential gearbox is extremely precise. It's easy to see why this series has been so successful throughout Europe."
The Fran-Am 2000 Championship, a cousin of Formula Renault in Europe and South America, begins its inaugural North American season in April with support from Michelin. While the official schedule will be announced in the coming weeks, the 2002 Fran-Am 2000 series champion is guaranteed a fully-funded seat with a leading Formula Renault team for the 2003 European series.
Formula Renault is recognized worldwide as a primary feeder for the Formula One stars of tomorrow. Recent graduates include McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen as well as Sauber's Felipe Massa.
On track, the Fran-Am 2000 race cars feature a spec-Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 2.0-liter/186-horsepower motor capable of running an entire season without a rebuild, 6-speed sequential gearbox, and spec-Michelin Sport racing tires. Since gear sets are pre-determined, race weekend adjustments are basically limited to wings, spring rates, ride height, castor, camber and tire pressure. Each race begins with a standing start, and culminates after 50-60 miles.
The Fran-Am 1600 car shares much of the same technology of its larger sibling, including a Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 1.6-liter/123-horsepower motor, 5-speed sequential gearbox and spec-Michelin Sport racing slicks. The 2002 West Coast Fran-Am 1600 season includes eight events beginning August 4 at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California and finishing up on December 1 at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix. The late start is due to the tight availability of this new car. Each race features a Michelin supported $7,000 prize fund, with the series champion winning a Fran-Am 2000 race car.