Bessette Bursts Bubble at Barber Antoine Wins First Race! The Aim Autosport Formula Renault North America team headed south to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama for rounds seven and eight of the championship hoping for warm weather- only to...
Bessette Bursts Bubble at Barber
Antoine Wins First Race!
The Aim Autosport Formula Renault North America team headed south to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama for rounds seven and eight of the championship hoping for warm weather- only to find conditions cold and treacherous. Despite the climate, drivers Mark Wilkins and Antoine Bessette managed to come home with a win, and three top fives from the double header weekend.
In race one of the weekend (round seven) Mark qualified on the front-row in second position, which is where he would finish behind pole and race winner- Marcos Gomes. Antoine qualified and finished the race in third position, the entire distance of twenty-two laps under green flag conditions.
Gomes got a good start, but Mark did as well as the two raced to the first corner. Gomes had the inside line, and Mark slotted in behind as the rest of the field got through cleanly. Mark took the fight to Gomes, getting several good looks at a pass, but Gomes had the speed and held him off to cross the line by 3.025 seconds at the finish.
Mark, who was tied for second in the points with Gomes before the race, tried to make the most of the start, but just didn't have the pace that Gomes had as the race developed. "I knew if I was going to pass him, I would have to do it early in the race," said Wilkins. "We were a couple of tenths off his pace today, but its still fantastic to be on the podium and to get these points in the bank for the championship battle, and we still have another race we can win tomorrow!"
Antoine had a quiet run to third from third on the grid, but he relished his chance to get his maiden win in Formula Renault competition the following day in round eight as he was starting from the pole. "The car was really great, but I just didn't push hard enough in the middle stages of the race to make an impression on the leaders, but this is still a strong result," said Bessette. "Hopefully it will rain tomorrow like they are predicting, and we can do even better!"
Aim Autosport's Antoine Bessette kept his cool in bad conditions during race two of the weekend (round eight) to convert pole position into his maiden North American Formula Renault win. Antoine had the measure of the field, and was able to hold on to his position despite twice having his considerable gap to the field eliminated during safety car periods. AIM team-mate Mark Wilkins finished in fifth position at the end of an eventful race two including two spins.
"I think it's the first time I have ever been nervous inside a race car-sure sometimes you get nervous before a race, but I have never once I got in, but today-every time I got a big lead on everyone, I'd lose it to the safety car," said a beaming Antoine. "Aim Autosport did a great job-the car was just perfect, and I love racing in these kind of conditions, so its very, v ery satisfying to take the win."
The field got off to a clean start in the steadily raining conditions, with Antoine leading Ricardo Imery into the first corner. Imery stayed on Antoine's tail and hassled him for the lead for several laps, before getting caught out by the conditions and going off track under braking, bringing out the safety car. The caution period was good news for Gomes, who had been picking off competitors nearly every lap, but was nearly thirty seconds behind Antoine before the yellow flew.
On the restart, Gomes continued his charge forward through the field, but Antoine was also on the move, setting a series of fastest laps of the race to rebuild his gap to the field. A second caution period to move the car of Michael Yager into a safe position forced Antoine to give up his gap again and defend his lead ahead of Gomes and Brandon Thomas once again. Gomes' presence was making Antoine nervous, but on the restart, it was Brandon Thomas making the move, passing Gomes in the first corner to take second place, before Gomes retook the spot as DiCienzo moved up to the final podium position.