NA 2000: Trois Rivieres preview

North American Formula Renault to make Three Rivers Grand Prix debut this weekend * Juan Martin Ponte atop standings once again, hoping to stretch his lead * Mark Wilkins looking for redemption * Guest drivers bring added local interest to ...

North American Formula Renault to make Three Rivers Grand Prix debut this weekend

* Juan Martin Ponte atop standings once again, hoping to stretch his lead
* Mark Wilkins looking for redemption
* Guest drivers bring added local interest to prestigious event; Legge returns with GTI/Roshfrans
* Prime race time starts at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon

(28 July 2004) After a weekend off following the Molson Indy Toronto race weekend, North American Formula Renault will reconvene to race north of the border once again this weekend on the 1.5-mile temporary street circuit at the famed Grand Prix of Three Rivers for round five of the 2004 season. Eurointernational's Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina leads the point standings by ten points over Venezuelan teammate Ricardo Imery, with Canadians Antoine Bessette and Mark Wilkins tied for third just seventeen points behind Ponte.

Ponte, who won the series debut race in Phoenix, but was knocked out of the race while going for the lead at Mt. Tremblant before rebounding to take the win at Watkins Glen, is glad to be back atop the standings after scoring third place in Toronto.

"Having everyone chase me in the points is definitely something I prefer!" said a smiling Ponte. "This series is so competitive, you can't give an inch to anyone or they will pass you by-on the track, or in the points, so I am hoping for another strong podium result at Three Rivers and to grow my lead. I enjoy the street circuits-I think it is a special challenge for the teams to get the car set up well, and there is risk at every corner for the driver, so it is very satisfying to do well on these kinds of tracks."

Wilkins looking for redemption after consecutive races of frustration

Mark Wilkins, who was knocked out of contention in round three at Watkins Glen but went on to score pole position in Toronto only to be crashed out of the lead, is looking to get back atop the points in his Aim Autosport prepared Trizec machine.

"Its been very frustrating to have had so much speed, but to not have had the wins and points to show for it yet," Wilkins said. "I had everyone covered in Toronto, and I am looking to do the same again, but get all the way to the checkered flag this time!"

Wilkins might have a bit of an advantage, as the young Canadian star, who took his maiden Formula Renault victory in round two at Mt. Tremblant, has previous racing experience on the street circuit.

"The track is bit narrower and bumpier than Toronto, so it requires even more concentration to be fast here, but the track is a lot of fun to drive, and you can get into a good rhythm there, so I am looking forward to it," said Wilkins.

Guest drivers bring added local interest to prestigious event

The Three Rivers race weekend, which marks the first appearance for Formula Renault at the historic event, has a theme of 'celebrating the past, while looking at the future.' The Formula Renault ranks will be bolstered by appearances by several area drivers in a unique partnership between the event organizers and Formula Renault. Valerie Limoges, Louis-Phillippe Doumolin, and Phillippe Gelinas are all scheduled to take part in the weekend's racing activities. Gelinas has one race in Formula Renault under his belt, as he contested the Watkins Glen round in June with Gelles, going out late in the race while going for second place.

Team owner Bob Gelles was happy to have Gelinas back with the squad for the special event.

"We are very happy to get the opportunity to race at this famous event, said team owner Bob Gelles. All our drivers are anxious to challenge this historic street course in Trois-Rivières, but especially one of the local heros, Philippe Gelinas. A lot of our staff hails from Quebec and this is also a special event for them. We have scored the fastest race lap in the past three events and want to keep the streak alive! So, we have a lot of reasons to get the adrenalin going this weekend."

Legge returns with GTI/Roshfrans

Former pole-winner in the fiercely competitive UK Formula Renault, Katherine Legge of Guildford Surry, UK, will also be back in action this weekend after making an impressive North American debut in her first-ever street race with a strong sixth place finish at Toronto. Legge was undaunted by the walled environment of the Toronto circuit, and after taking it easy in the opening sessions to get a feel for the track, admitted after the race that the experience "...was absolutely mega!" Legge will once again race with the GTI/Roshfrans operation based in Houston, Texas.

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.

Weekend Schedule, Grand Prix de Trois Riviers:

Friday, July 30
10:30-11:00 AM Practice
3:50-4:20 PM Practice

Saturday, July 31
10:00-10:20 AM Qualifying

Sunday, August 1st
9:30-9:45 AM Warm-up
2:30-3:30 PM Race, 32 Laps


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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Katherine Legge , Antoine Bessette , Juan Martin Ponte , Mark Wilkins