Fresh from scoring a pair of victories at Snetterton last Sunday, Paul Edwards was fastest throughout most of today's Formula Palmer Audi test session at Brands Hatch, England. The 21-year-old American is now brimming with confidence prior to Sunday's double-header race meeting at the famed track situated some 25 miles southeast of London. Edwards posted his best lap of 44.5s toward the end of the afternoon, after the circuit had dried out following some overnight rain. His best was narrowly eclipsed by local hero Tom Sisley (a graduate of the British Formula Ford Championship) in the waning moments, but Edwards remained content. "I feel good and I'm happy with the car," said Edwards, from Santa Maria, Calif., who won last year's EFDA Formula Opel Winter Series in the colors of the Valvoline Team USA Scholarship and is bidding to add to his burgeoning reputation by clinching the four-race Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series. "I'm pretty confident going into the weekend. I know all I really need to do is finish ahead of the other [top] two [contenders] to win the championship, but I still want to win." Fellow Team USA Scholarship winners Andy Lally and Jeff Simmons logged the seventh and ninth fastest times, respectively, among the 22-car field. "I struggled quite a bit after lunch and just couldn't quite get it together, but I just sat down and thought things through, made some changes to the setup, and found quite a bit of time," related Lally, 24, from Northport, N.Y., who improved to 44.8s on his final run. "I feel pretty good because I know there's more time in me and we're quite close to the front-running pace. One tenth of a second faster would have put me fourth. I know I can improve." Simmons, 23, from Granby, Conn., endured another tough day, which included a late start due to an electrical glitch and then a spin at Surtees bend which resulted in some damage to the left-front corner of his Van Diemen chassis. (Incidentally, his incident during the second race at Snetterton last Sunday almost certainly was caused by a broken rear anti-roll bar.) "I feel bad for my mechanics, having the fix my car all the time," said Simmons, who posted a best time of 45.1s. "I can't remember the last time I crashed on my own. It's not that the car's difficult to drive. I just can't get the car the way I like it. Every change I make seems to have the opposite effect to what I expect. It's frustrating, but I'll sit down with Paul and Andy and try to figure it out for Sunday." All three drivers took a little time during the lunch break today to undertake a photo-shoot with their trio of Team USA Scholarship cars, which have attracted tremendous interest for their patriotic red, white and blue livery featuring support from Valvoline, CART, Tasman Motorsports, Audi, PacWest Racing, Mercedes-Benz USA, Road Racing Drivers Club, Klein Tools, Skip Barber Racing School, No Fear and Mitel Semiconductor.
Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series Championship positions after two of four races: 1, Paul Edwards (USA), 48pts; 2, Paul Munn (GB), 38; 3, Adam Carroll (IRL), 36; 4, Martin Rihs (A), 31; 5, Jeff Simmons (USA) & Paul Rozalowsky (CDN), 24.