Toronto, ON - The first race of the 2002 Formula Renault 2000 season is scheduled for this weekend, March 30-31, at Nogaro and Dan McMullen is very excited and geared up to go. Following an off-season of testing it is time to get down to business...
Toronto, ON - The first race of the 2002 Formula Renault 2000 season is scheduled for this weekend, March 30-31, at Nogaro and Dan McMullen is very excited and geared up to go. Following an off-season of testing it is time to get down to business with his new team, HEXIS Racing, and make a run at the French National Formula Renault Championship. As has been the case in the past years, this championship will be very close and hotly contested as forty-six entries are scheduled to take to the track for the opening event at the Circuit Paul Armagnac at Nogaro, in the south of France.
Following a hectic schedule of two day tests, which started back on February 13 at the track in Ledenon, Dan has put in many laps and has shown steady improvement as he comes to grips with the FR2000 cars and their higher horsepower and much higher traction. All of the tests have not gone so well though as weather has been a big problem for a good part of the time. At both Ledenon and Val de Vienne, rain and cold temperatures meant that it was next to impossible to get in more than two or three consecutive laps as sessions where constantly being stopped due to cars that had spun off the track. Even so, at Ledenon, Dan's first day in the new car, he managed to finish up tenth quickest overall while trying to contend with an ill-fitting seat and at Val de Vienne it was much the same. At Magny-Cours, where there were over 70 cars present, representing the FFSA Championship and the EuroCup Championship, brake problems hindered the first day of the test, but the second day Dan got it together. He finished the two days just 1.5 seconds behind the pace setter, reigning Champion Eric Salignon of the Graff Team and in the top fifteen.
At the most recent test at Nogaro on March 20 and 21, everything finally came together. The weather was clear and hot and that meant that Dan could put together some runs of more than just a couple of laps at a time. With forty-six cars present, the track was crowded at times and getting a clear lap was difficult, but he quickly got comfortable for the first time in the car and brought his times down. A problem that Dan had been experiencing was maximizing his speed on new tires. In the previous tests he found only about a half second improvement, but at Nogaro, he gained and extra 1.4 seconds per lap on his new Michelins. He, as well as the team was very pleased. At the end of the two days, Dan finished up fifth fastest overall and was only 0.04 (4 thousandths) seconds out of third position.
With testing now behind him, Dan is ready to take on the challenge of his first professional race. He is excited and very focused on doing as well as he possibly can in the first two races of the Championship. His goal is to win the FR2000 Junior Championship for 2002, but he also believes that a top five finish this weekend as well as winning the Junior Race is a very real possibility. He will be doing his utmost to make his dream come true.