Montreal, Canada, June 10, 2003 -- There's excitement in the Fran-Am Pro ranks as the series turns to the Montreal Gilles Villeneuve Circuit for Rounds 3 and 4 of the North American Pro Championship held this weekend as part of the Air Canada ...
Montreal, Canada, June 10, 2003 -- There's excitement in the Fran-Am Pro ranks as the series turns to the Montreal Gilles Villeneuve Circuit for Rounds 3 and 4 of the North American Pro Championship held this weekend as part of the Air Canada Formula 1 Grand Prix. This will be the first time that the Fran-Am Pro participants will compete in a highly prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. There will be two races held in Montreal as Round 3 will be staged Saturday afternoon after the Formula 1 qualifying session and Round 4 will be presented Sunday morning prior to the start of the F1 Grand Prix. There will also be major news in Montreal as it will be the first time that a female driver will take the start of a Fran-Am Pro race.
The 2003 championship has seen two different winners winning the first two races of the season. Guadalajara, Mexico's Aurelio Lopez Jr, the 19-year old driver of the Phillips Motorsports stable, captured victory in Phoenix, Arizona after race leader Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina spun late in the race. In Round 2 held in the rain on the Barber Motorsport Park's Road course near Birmingham, Alabama Great Britain's Charles Hall took victory, beating his fellow countryman Robert Bell.
Shortly after his victory, Hall competed in the non-championship Formula Renault V6 race held at the Grand Prix of Monaco. Despite his lack of experience at the wheel of the 375-hp single-seater, Hall raisd a few eyebrows in qualifying third. However, the 20-year old was forced into retirement during the race only after having proved he could run with the leaders.
Hall, Bell, Ponte and Lopez will be to watch in Montreal this coming weekend although none of them has driven on the Gilles Villeneuve circuit before. Other competitors expected to run at the front of the pack include Americans Tim Barber, Dominic Cicero, Nick Bussell and Matt Green, as well as Canadians Mark Wilkins, Andrew Ranger and Sean McIntosh. The Gelles Racing team will enter a fourth car for former Formula 2000 and Formula Atlantic top competitor Marc-Antoine Camirand of St. Leonard d'Aston, Quebec. Expect Camirand to be a front runner in the two races as he has massive experience around this road course.
Longueuil, Quebec's Valerie Limoges will make history as she will become the first female driver to compete in a Fran-Am Pro race. Limoges, 19, is a former Quebec shifter kart champion and she has gained road racing experience last year by driving a Formula 1600 race car. She will drive the #32 Fran-Am car entered by AIM Autosport.
A massive crowd, the international medias and the Formula 1 team members will follow the two Fran-Am Pro races held during the weekend. And with $28,500 USD up for stakes in each of them, they will undoubtedly be awesome races to watch.
The Fran-Am Sport Pro North American Championship is a professional formula car developmental racing series designed to hone the driving skills of the up and coming road racers. Each race features a U.S. $28,500 Michelin International supported cash prize fund, with the overall series champion winning a fully paid ride in the Euro Cup Formula Renault V6 series in Europe next year.
The Fran-Am Pro open wheel car features a spec carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, a sealed 2.0-litre/186-horsepower four cylinder engine, front and rear wings, a six-speed sequential gearbox and spec-Michelin Sport slick racing tires.