Charles Hall captures first Fran-Am victory. Round 4 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series. Miami-Homestead, Florida, February 16, 2003 -- Great Britain's Charles Hall captured today his first victory in the 2003 Fran-Am 2000 and Formula Renault...
Charles Hall captures first Fran-Am victory.
Round 4 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series.
Miami-Homestead, Florida, February 16, 2003 -- Great Britain's Charles Hall captured today his first victory in the 2003 Fran-Am 2000 and Formula Renault 2000 World Winter Series, claiming victory in Round 4 of the Winter Series held on Miami-Homestead's road course. The 20-year old driver - who has some Formula 3 experience under his belt - became the third different race winner in four races. Only Juan Martin Ponte managed to win two races in this hotly contested Winter Series. Italian Giorgio Mondini finished today's race in second place, beating Ireland's James Murphy and Argentina's Juan Martin Ponte.
Juan Martin Ponte, 17, started the race from pole position and got away nicely from the grid at the start. There was a lot of action and wheel to wheel battles as the drivers wrestled for positions going into Corner 1. The race was marred by numerous off track excursions and spins. Three times the race officials needed to call the Pace Car into action. And unexpectedly, Ponte started to go backwards and lost a few places, giving the lead of the race to Charles Hall.
A crash happened just a few laps from the end and brought out the yellow flags for a third time. The race was finally restarted for a nail biting, one-lap dash. Hall maintained his lead despite the intense pressure his pursuers put on him. He crossed the line in first place to win his first Fran-Am race. Giorgio Mondini arrived in second place while James Murphy and Juan Martin Ponte finished third and fourth, respectively.
In the points standings, only 49 points separate the top five drivers. Ponte is first with 236 points but is chased by Robert Bell who's second with 206. The title will be decided next week in St. Petersburg.
The fifth and final round of the 2003 Winter Series will be held next week at the opening race of the CART Champ Car Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Fran-Am race will be held Sunday morning.
WINNER -- CHARLES HALL (Great Britain)
"I finally won a Fran-Am race. It's been a long time. We made some little changes to the car yesterday night after Round 3. I didn't want to upset the car because it was quite good. The team managed to get the car working very well. I am very pleased."
SECOND PLACE -- GIORGIO MONDINI (Italy)
Giorgio Mondini left the Homestead motor sport facility immediately after the race to return in Italy. Yesterday, his younger brother was killed in a car accident but Giorgio wanted to contest this second race of the weekend. Immediately after the race ended, he left the circuit for the airport.
THIRD PLACE -- JAMES MURPHY (Ireland)
"Qualifying did not go too well for me. I started to push more and more and when I was on a hot lap, I got caught in slower traffic. But I knew we would be quick in the race. It was pretty tough during the race and I had to pass a few cars. The restarts were especially difficult with all the cars going into Corner 1, dicing for positions. I kept my head down all race long and kept out of trouble."
<pre> Provisional point standings (unofficial top 5) After round 4 out of 5
1 Juan Martin Ponte (Argentina) 236 points 2 Robert Bell (Great Britain) 206 3 Giorgio Mondini (Italy) 204 4 Charles Hall (Great Britain) 196 5 James Murphy (Ireland) 187