North American Formula Renault heads North to Mont Tremblant The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship will return to action for round two of the 2004 championship this weekend at the beautiful Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Canada as part...
North American Formula Renault heads North to Mont Tremblant
The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship will return to action for round two of the 2004 championship this weekend at the beautiful Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Canada as part of the Grand American '6 Hours of Mont Tremblant' race weekend. North American Formula Renault 2000 staged a successful inaugural race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in April, with fifteen drivers taking part in the weekend as the Formula Renault category continued its worldwide expansion into the North American market.
The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship has attracted international interest and participation, with three Canadians, three Brazilians, two Americans, one Argentinean, and one Venezuelan comprising the top ten in the points standings. The Mont Tremblant weekend is expected to provide some intense competition, as the Formula Renault 2000 rules package emphasizes parity, and the Phoenix race weekend demonstrated how evenly matched the drivers and cars are, with twelve drivers setting times within one second of Ponte's pole time in qualifying.
Eurointernational's Juan Ponte of Argentina leads the points championship heading into this weekends race on the strength of his strong performance at the opening round, where he took pole position in advance of leading every lap to take the victory ahead of GTI Roshfrans' Marcos Gomes.
"It was very important to get the lead in the championship in Phoenix, because now everyone has to chase us to take the lead," said Ponte. "Racing is very difficult, with no certainties, so you have to get maximum points whenever you can, because you just don't know what's going to happen the next race. I can't wait to get to Tremblant, I think its going to be a fantastic track to race on!"
Marcos Gomes' second place marked an impressive North American debut for the young Brazilian, who previously raced in the Formula Renault ranks in his home country, demonstrating the international nature of the category.
Aim Autosport's Mark Wilkins of Toronto is Ponte's closest pursuer in the points battle as he finished third in the race, but leapfrogged Gomes in the points with the five bonus points he scored for notching the fastest race lap. Wilkins' Aim Autosport teammate and fellow Canadian Dan McMullen qualified well in the opening round, but was a hapless victim of contact at the start, ending his race before he even got past the start line, so he will be hungry to score some championship points this weekend.
Ricardo Imery of Venezuela had his best performance to date with a fourth place finish in Phoenix. Imery, who races alongside of Ponte with Eurointernational, knows he has momentum as he seeks a podium finish.
Montreal's Antoine Bessette sits in sixth in the championship standings and will be hoping to make the most of his home race this weekend at Tremblant, which lies two hours north of Montreal.
Gelles Racings three drivers, American Michael Yager, Brazilian Gustavo Sondermann, and Canadian Brandon Thomas will all be looking to improve on their opening round race weekend, which saw Sondermann take a team-best fourth in qualifying, but he was slow at the start and had to fight back to finish in eighth. Yager's ninth place finish gave the team two top-ten results, but team owner Bob Gelles is hungry for a win.
Cost containment is an important element of the Formula Renault package, and center to this is the reliability of the cars. The opening race weekend featured a promoter test day in advance of the race meeting and saw the field complete over 2400 timed laps in total during the weekend, or more than 3,700 miles, without a single engine problem. Series officials were pleased with the race weekend, and are looking forward to the rest of the season. The North American Formula Renault Championships are sanctioned by Grand American, and provide a ladder for drivers to develop their talent, with a full in-house open-wheel progression available.
The Formula Renault V6 Championship is the top rung on the North American Formula Renault Championship ladder, which also includes the North American Formula Renault 1600 Championship and the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship. The Formula Renault V6 is expected to make its North American competition debut in the latter stages of the2004 North American Formula Renault 2000 season.