Wilkins takes breakthrough win at Tremblant MONT TREMBLANT, QUE (22 May 04)--Mark Wilkins of Woodbridge, Ontario, took his first win in North American Formula Renault competition at Mont Tremblant today after he patiently watched the battle for...
Wilkins takes breakthrough win at Tremblant
MONT TREMBLANT, QUE (22 May 04)--Mark Wilkins of Woodbridge, Ontario, took his first win in North American Formula Renault competition at Mont Tremblant today after he patiently watched the battle for the lead from third position, and took advantage when front row starters Marcos Gomes and Juan Martin Ponte went off after making contact trying to go through the daunting turn one side by side as they battled for the lead late in the race. Gelles Racing's Gustavo Sondermann finished in second, with Condor Racing's Rento Jader David taking third.
The battle for the lead saw Gomes take the point at the start with Ponte and Wilkins following closely for the first twelve laps of the race, when Ponte made a bold move to pass Gomes on the outside of the ultra-fast turn one, but the effort was nullified when the two ran out of racing room at the exit of the corner and made contact, damaging Ponte's suspension and ending his day early.
"I was right behind them as they went into one, and I couldn't believe that they were both going to make it through, and I was right!" said Wilkins, who was elated to take the win in his home country with several friends and family, including has father Greg who is also racing this weekend in Grand American competition, on hand for the celebrations.
"I was just trying to be patient as we three ran nose to tail for the better part of the race. It's very difficult to pass here, so I didn't want to force the issue, and it really paid off today," enthused Wilkins. "Its been so long since I have won in anything, that it feels great to get back to the top step on the podium, and I can't wait to get to the Glen now that I got this monkey off my back!"
Sondermann started alongside of Wilkins in the second row, but didn't have the pace in the early stages to run with the lead three, but his car continued to improve throughout as he was able to score five bonus points for scoring the fastest lap of the race.
"Well, I am really glad to be on the podium, since we really needed to get the points here this weekend," said Sondermann. "I was really fast in the end, but the first few laps, those guys just had built up a gap in the early going and I couldn't catch them, but this is still a strong result, and now I am looking forward to racing at the Glen with the fast corners and high speeds."
Ponte's Eurointernational teammate Ricardo Imery finished in fourth, with Autotecnica teammates Antoine Bessette and Aurelio Lopez taking fifth and sixth. Nick Bussell scored seventh in his Klien Tools machine, and Gelles Racing's Michael Yager took his second top-ten of the season in ninth, with polesitter and early race leader Gomes returning to the track to take tenth.
The win vaults Wilkins into the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship lead, with Sondermann moving to second and Renato Jader David in third.
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 series held its first-ever race weekend in April at Phoenix International Raceway.
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 the North American Formula Renault 2000 season in advance of the 2005 championship.