Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 18th, 2003 - British drivers Charles Hall - the reigning champion of the Fran-Am Pro and Formula Renault World Winter Series - and Robert Bell - a two-time British Formula Renault Winter Series champion - captured...
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 18th, 2003 - British drivers Charles Hall - the reigning champion of the Fran-Am Pro and Formula Renault World Winter Series - and Robert Bell - a two-time British Formula Renault Winter Series champion - captured first and second place today in Round 2 of the North American Fran- Am Pro Championship held on Barber Motorsport Park's road course in Alabama.
Rain fell hard before the start of the 21-lap Fran-Am Pro race. The track was still very wet when the field completed the parade lap with Robert Bell on pole position. At the start, Bell managed to stay in first place but was chased hard by Charles Hall. Bell, who drives for Team FirstAir, led the first laps with Hall, one of three drivers of team Gelles Racing in hot pursuit. Their battle was fantastic with both drivers showing superb driving skills on the slippery tarmac.
On lap 8, Hall executed a brilliant passing maneuver to slip ahead of Bell. And Hall quickly put some distance on Bell and the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Turkish driver Can Artam was driving a fantastic race despite these treacherous conditions. The Turkish driver - who has raced Formula 3 in the past - was racing in the rain for the first time in his career. He made it up into third position and battling hard with Canadian Mark Wilkins. Argentina's Juan Martin Ponté was also driving a fabulous race. Due to a technical infraction, Ponté started the race from last place but was up in sixth position a few laps before the end, having set the fastest lap of the race.
At the checkered on lap 21, the order was Charles Hall, Robert Bell, Can Artam, Mark Wilkins, Canadian rookie Andrew Ranger and Juan Martin Ponté. Hall beat Bell by 22.7 seconds. The results were still provisional at time of writing as technical scrutinizing was not completed.
"It was dry all week and when we saw the rain this morning we elected to go with a full rain set-up," said Robert Bell. "It proved to be a mistake because going to a dry set-up with rain tires proved to be the right combination. For the first six laps my car was great. After that, there was less water on the track and my car was slower than that of Charles Hall. Anyway, I drove as hard as I could and to finish second in these circumstances is not that bad.. "
Unfortunately, we don't have Charles Hall's nor Can Artam's comments. The two very wet drivers left the circuit immediately after the podium ceremonies.
RACE RESULTS - Barber Motorsport Park, Round 2 <pre> Top 10 Provisional
Pos No. Name Laps Diff Best Tm 1 1 Charles Hall 21 1:33.886 2 7 Robert Bell 21 22.785 1:35.491 3 77 Can Artam 21 33.634 1:34.706 4 34 Mark Wilkins 21 33.787 1:34.608 5 27 Andrew Ranger 21 34.830 1:34.901 6 50 Juan Martin Ponte 21 44.698 1:32.978 7 3 Antoine Bessette 21 46.475 1:34.955 8 59 Matt Green 21 48.823 1:34.000 9 2 Kuno Wittmer 21 1:10.106 1:34.650 10 29 Ricardo Imery 21 1:13.732 1:34.494
</pre> Next round: Formula 1 Air Canada Grand Prix, Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, Montreal (Canada), June 13, 14 and 15.