MONTREAL - AUGUST 24, 2003 - Sixteen year-old Quebec native Andrew Ranger led wire-to-wire in Round 8 of the 2003 FRAN AM 2000 North American Pro Championship Series. But is certainly was not an easy win. Ranger led Ontario?s Dan McMullen and Robert Bell of Great Britain across the finish line to score his fourth win of the 2003 season and maintain his Championship lead.
In the first turn at the start of the race, Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina attempted an aggressive pass from his outside pole position and made hard contact with Ranger. Ranger continued with a slightly wounded car, but Ponte was sidelined with suspension damage and did not continue.
Also on the first lap, Kyle Herder slid into Matt Green and Mark Wilkins who were blocking the racing line after contact brought them together. Wilkins was able to continue while Green and Herder were forced to retire. By the end of the first lap, Bell and McMullen were both able to capitalize and improve five places from their starting positions; to second and third, respectively.
Aurelio Lopez drove a strong race, managing a fourth place finish and the fast lap (1:40.252) despite a spin during an attempted pass of Bell.
At the checkered flag it was Ranger by 2.758 seconds; followed by McMullen, Bell, Lopez and McIntosh. Seventeen of the 26 cars finished on the lead lap.
Provisional Points After Eight Rounds - Top 5
Andrew Ranger, AIM Autosport, 231
Charles Hall, GTI Formula Motorsports, 184
Robert Bell, Team Firstair, 176
Juan Martin Ponte, Euro International, 138
Aurelio Lopez, Phillips Motorsports, 136
27 Andrew Ranger, Aim Autosport, Tide/Downey/Swiffer/Mr. Clean "It was a pretty good hit at turn one but after a few moments I could tell the car was good, just a bit different. I drove as hard as I could to maintain my position. To win another Canadian race is very good"
1 Dan McMullen, Autotecnica, ATI Industries "My new team is terrific and I thank them a lot. I saw the trouble in front of me on the opening lap and moved to avoid contact. It felt good to be toward the front so quick. When I was between Bell and Hall I knew where my car worked and used that to pass Bell. It's great to be back on the podium."
7 Robert Bell, Team FirstAir "The secret to the opening laps was realizing how slippery was going to be and use your head. I let others make some mistakes and tried to be smart and fast. It worked and got me to second."
The 2003 FRAN AM 2000 North American Pro Series moves to Denver next weekend for Round 9 in support of CART at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver.