Ponte perfect at Mid-Ohio Pole, fastest lap, and the win for championship points leader... Lexington, OH(8August 04)-- Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina held off a late race charge from Mark Wilkins to lead from lights-out to checkered flag and...
Ponte perfect at Mid-Ohio
Pole, fastest lap, and the win for championship points leader...
Lexington, OH(8August 04)-- Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina held off a late race charge from Mark Wilkins to lead from lights-out to checkered flag and win the Formula Renault Grand Prix as part of the EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The win is the third of the season for the Eurointernational pilot, who also scored ten bonus points for taking the pole and for notching the fastest race lap, stretching his lead in the Formula Renault 2000 Championship standings with six of thirteen rounds complete. Wilkins took second at the finish, with GTI/Roshfrans driver Marcos Gomes coming home a close third.
The race provided another example of the high talent level of the series as the field ran the entire twenty-lap race distance without incident or yellow flag periods despite the extensive wheel-to-wheel racing taking place on the twisty 2.258-mile natural road course.
Ponte leapt to the lead from the pole while Wilkins made the most of his start, displacing Gomes for second as the rest of the field filed safely through turn one. Antoine Bessette slotted into fourth, with a massive battle developing for fifth behind, with Brandon Thomas, Ricardo Imery, and Katherine Legge swapping positions throughout.
Ponte and Wilkins were never separated by more than one second, as Gomes shadowed in third with a mishandling car. Ponte kept the gap up until the closing laps of the race as Wilkins drew closer and closer, but Ponte was able to hold him off at the end for the win.
"I was a little lucky that Marcos had a bad start," said Ponte. "I pushed early in the race, but then the car had a big oversteer, and I had to work really hard to keep Mark behind me. I am proud to take the win, its of course great for the points, and getting the fastest lap again gives me a lot of confidence. The team just did a great job as always preparing the car, so it was just up to me to bring it home."
Wilkins, who took the championship points lead with his pole position in the Toronto round only to be knocked out of the lead of the race, was glad that his start was so strong, but wishing there'd been a few more laps.
"I got a great start," a smiling Wilkins said. "I was able to get around Gomes-who left me the racing room I needed-and from there, I was trying to save the car for later in the race. I could see that Juan was struggling with his car, but he drove a great race to keep in front. Second is good for the championship after having had a couple of bad finishes, so we'll happily take the podium."
Gomes, who jumped up to second in the points after winning the Trois-Rivières race, had a slow start from the line, and his race didn't get much better from there as he struggled to get the same speed out of his car that he'd shown all weekend.
"I'm not sure really what happened-we have had a great car all week-much faster than anyone else, but in these conditions, we just didn't have the car we needed," said Gomes. "But getting up to the podium again is of course good, and there are a lot of races remaining so we will get ready for Homestead and just keep working to improve."
Provisional results, Formula Renault EMCO Gears Mid Ohio Sports Car Classic <pre> 1. Juan Martin Ponte 20 Laps 28:22.371 2. Mark Wilkins -.602 3. Marcos Gomes -2.270 4. Antoine Bessette -19.056 5. Brandon Thomas -26.419 6. Ricardo Imery -26.617 7. Katherine Legge -27.868 8. Michael Yager -45.874 9. Tim Hauraney -57.827 10. Blake Yager -1:10.037 11. Bob Siska -1:16.815
Best Lap-Juan Martin Ponte 1.:24.472 in lap 11