Dan McMullen - Pau Grand Prix race report. Pau, France (May 30, 2002) - The third round of the FFSA Formula Renault Championship took place in the beautiful city of Pau in southern France on a track steeped in motor racing history. The event, ...
Dan McMullen - Pau Grand Prix race report.
Pau, France (May 30, 2002) - The third round of the FFSA Formula Renault Championship took place in the beautiful city of Pau in southern France on a track steeped in motor racing history. The event, first contested in 1899, runs through the city streets at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains offering the drivers a challenge that they won't find on any other circuit in the world with the exception being the famous circuit at Monaco. The list of those that have competed here in the past reads like a who's who of motor racing…Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio, Graham Hill, Jack Brahbam, and in more recent times, Gil de Ferran, Eddie Cheever, Jean Alesi and Juan Pablo Montoya each have raced and won on the streets of this famous town. The Hexis Racing Team was well prepared for the race and all three of the team's drivers
were ready to test their skills on the demanding track. This was Dan's second visit to Pau as he competed in the la Filiere Formula Campus series in 2001 where he qualified very well but was forced to miss the race because of a shunt prior to the race. Even so, he was very upbeat and confident going into the weekend. With a condensed schedule that afforded no practice time, the driver's first encounter with the track would come in the one and only twenty-five minute official qualifying session held on Sunday. As the cars took to the track, it became quite evident early in the session that the track was going to be very slippery. With high temperatures and much in the way of foreign material in the form of oil dry from the previous session and dust on the track, it was going to be difficult to put in a good time. Dan got down to business quickly but found that the Discount Car Rental/Side Effects Graphics car was under-steering quite a bit. He adjusted his line and tried to make do but a small mistake at the Foch Corner ended his session prematurely with a bent left rear pushrod, the result of clipping one of the many curbs around the track. At the end of qualifying he would up in only twenty-sixth starting position and would have his work cut out for him self come time for the race. The fastest in the session, Eric Salignon, put in a pole time that was well off the pace from the previous year. By race day, the car was put back together and some changes had been made in the hopes of
curing the under-steer encountered the day previously. As the cars formed up for the standing start, Dan was still confident in having a good race, even though he was so far back on the grid. As the lights went green, he got another fantastic start, for which he is quickly becoming famous for, and passed two cars before the start/finish line. Going into the Le Gare hairpin, he made up another position and from there settled into a race pace. The car was much better than in qualifying, although it was still under-steering a bit, and it was also quite nervous through the flat out sixth gear right-hander in front of the pits. Even so, Dan brought his times down by almost 2 ½ seconds from his qualifying times. He continued driving hard and picked off a few more spots before the end of the 22-lap race. His march through the field was one of the highlights of the race and had the track announcers very excited, going on throughout the race about the "fantastic drive by the Canadian", and the effort he was putting in, moving from a 26th grid spot to a final 13th place finishing position. At the end of the day, Dan and the team were very happy with his result, even though it yielded no championship points.
With the race now behind them, and a delay in the schedule due to the cancellation of the round at Charade originally set for June 1-2, the team will be getting in some testing at the home track in Ales, where Dan will be concentrating on his qualifying skills. It's hoped that if he can get further up on the grid for the starts in the next races he should be in a better position to gain valuable championship points. The next round is now scheduled for June 22-23 at the circuit at Val de Vienne, where last year Dan had a win and a third place finish in the Formula Campus Championship.