Fran-Am drivers play coyote to Spengler's Road Runner at Phoenix.
Phoenix, Arizona - The dragstrip at Phoenix Firebird Raceway turned starting grid on Saturday for the first Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship series race of the weekend. The extra grip provided by the dragstrip made for an exciting standing start.
Two cars stalled on the start causing other drivers to take evasive action. Into the first turn Sean McIntosh of Coquitlam, BC passed current championship points leader Bruno Spengler for the lead.
Michael Brooks, one of the cars that stalled on the start, crashed his #4 Gelles Racing entry in turn 10 and brought out the only full course yellow of the race. After the restart, American TCS Racing teammates, McIntosh and Jonathan Fecteau, in his first Fran-Am 2000 race, were both black flagged for jumping the start. After three laps McIntosh reluctantly accepted the stop and go penalty and hit pit lane, giving up the lead to Spengler. Fecteau came in the next lap to serve his penalty.
Further back in the field there was plenty of action; especially in the final turn where a number of drivers experienced dramatic spins. Fran-Am newcomers Team Autotecnica from Toronto, Ontario saw their driver Can Artam of Turkey make his way from his ninth starting position to finish on the podium in third place in his first race.
Back up front Spengler continued to fend off the challenges from Phillips Motorsports' Dan McMullen and took the chequered flag for his fourth straight victory. After his victory today, Spengler has clinched the championship title and will claim the coveted price of a fully-funded ride in the European Super Renault V6 series next season.
"I want to thank American TCS Racing for providing me with a great car all season," said Spengler from the podium. "without my crew none of this would be possible. It has been a great year and I am looking forward to racing in the new V6 series next season."
McMullen posted the fastest race lap and then proceeded to his familiar place on the second step of the podium. In just his third Fran-Am race, karting sensation Dominique Claessens finished fourth in his Condor Motorsports entry. McIntosh drove a flawless race through the field after his penalty and finished fifth.
The Fran-Am 2000 series wraps up its inaugural season with a race tomorrow at Phoenix Firebird Raceway followed by the End-of-Season banquet.
The Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship is a cousin of Formula Renault in Europe, South America and China. Each Fran-Am 2000 race features a $25,000 Michelin International supported cash prize fund, with the overall series champion winning a ride in the 2003 Super Renault V6 series in Europe. Formula Renault is recognized worldwide as a primary feeder for the Formula One stars of tomorrow. Recent graduates include McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen (who went straight to Formula One from Formula Renault) as well as Sauber's Felipe Massa.
The Fran-Am 2000 race car features 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.
For more information on the series visit www.fran-am.com.