Juan Martin Ponte takes first place. Round 2 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series. Sebring, Florida, January 26, 2003 -- In a stunning drive, 17-year old Argentinean Juan Martin Ponte captured a brilliant victory in Round 2 of the 2003 Fran-Am and...
Juan Martin Ponte takes first place.
Round 2 of the 2003 Fran-Am Winter Series.
Sebring, Florida, January 26, 2003 -- In a stunning drive, 17-year old Argentinean Juan Martin Ponte captured a brilliant victory in Round 2 of the 2003 Fran-Am and Formula Renault 2000 International Winter Series held today on Sebring's road course. Ponte, who lives in Entre Rios, Argentina debuted his racing career driving Formula Renaults en Argentina and contested the last two seasons in the hotly disputed Italian Formula Renault Championship. Britain's Robert Bell finished third to take the lead in the point standings.
The race was again held in warm weather. Moments before the lights turned green, second-place starter, Italian Giorgio Mondini stalled his engine. Instead of putting him at the back of the grid for the restart, Mondini was given a stop-and-go penalty to be executed during the race. At the green, Mondini immediately took first place, leading the other 35 cars. The 22-year old Italian led the race until he had to pit for his penalty, giving first place to Ponte. The Argentinean, driving for Antonio Ferrari's Team Eurointernational, controlled the race all the way to the chequered flag, scoring his first win in the series.
Eighteen-year old British driver Alex Lloyd of team Motaworld arrived home in second place, scoring his first points in the Winter Series. The winner of Round 1, Britain's Robert Bell finished the race in third position, taking the lead in the standings with a total of 146 points.
WINNER -- JUAN MARTIN PONTE (Argentina)
"It was a very fun race. It's great to win after such a hard fight. To win like this is extremely satisfying. I hope the championship will continue like this! After what happened yesterday, I'm really happy to finish first today. I want to thanks the mechanics and my sponsors. I will work harder to win again in Miami."
SECOND PLACE -- ALEX LLOYD (Great Britain)
"I had a good race. There was a lot of action everywhere on the track. I took the start in third place but lost one spot to run fourth in the early laps. Some guys fell off and I managed to make it to second position. However, the leader was just a bit too fast for us today and I was not able to catch him. But my goal was to finish on the podium and to score points. Only the top 25 drivers in the standings will be allowed to race in St. Petersburg and I wanted to be one of them."
THIRD PLACE -- ROBERT BELL (Great Britain)
"I'm not really surprised with the intense level of competition of this series. There are five or six guys who are really on it and we expected that. I'm really happy to stand on top of the point standings after two races. We won't be testing before Homestead. We're going back to England and we'll return here just a few days before the race. My goal is to win in Homestead. I cannot drive too cautiously. I'll go for the victory."
Rounds 3 and 4 will be held in two weeks, February 15 and 16 at Miami Homestead's road course in Florida.
The Winter Series is opened to Fran-Am and Formula Renault single seaters powered by two-litre engines. These race cars are powered by 185-horsepower, four-cylinder Renault engines, are fitted with front and rear wings and are shod on slick Michelin tires. The competitors are amongst the world's best up and coming race car drivers who will soon be the next Formula 1 and CART Series' drivers. The drivers compete for a cash prize fund of U.S. $100,000 and a free test drive in the new Formula Renault V6 car in Europe.