NA2000: Gelles Racing Winter Series news 2004-02-16

FR2000 Winter series: Sondermann aims for Winter podium, Yager for Best Rookie. After four rounds of the FR2000 Winter Invitational series, Team Gelles has two drivers vying for top honors as the series unfolds Tuesday with the fifth and last...

FR2000 Winter series: Sondermann aims for Winter podium, Yager for Best Rookie.

After four rounds of the FR2000 Winter Invitational series, Team Gelles has two drivers vying for top honors as the series unfolds Tuesday with the fifth and last round of this short series. In the Corduroy Suape Textile #4 car, Gustavo Sondermann presently lies third in the standings while Michael Yager, steering the Mid-America Motorsports #3 car, will have a last chance to earn the Rookie Award.

"I still have a slim chance for the title, answers the Brazilian, and if I win the last race, it could happen. But I want to complete the race in good position and finish on the final podium. Junior (Strous) and Juan Manuel (Ponte) are tough opponents but we respect each other on the track. After the Winter series, there is another long Pro season ahead."

Round 3, Saturday Feb. 14

Saturday started fine at Gelles with Sondermann and Marc-Antoine Camirand getting third and fourth best times in practice. " We wanted to be strong the first time out, said Gustavo. My car was very quick and I could have been faster. We decided for a different setup in the qualifying session that did not serve us well. " Consequently, both drivers had to settle for sixth and thirteenth places on the starting grid.

In the race, Gustavo and Camirand teamed up to move up a few positions and ran in fourth and fifth places until a full-course yellow. At the restart, Marc-Antoine was penalized for anticipating the green flag and had to pit for a stop and go penalty. He ended up in fourteenth place while Gustavo settled for fourth place.

Meanwhile, Michael Yager was having a fine day. His tenth place finish and best rookie saw him smiling. " My goals were to get a Top Ten finish this weekend and be the best newcomer in the series, said the 18 year-old. That takes pressure off my shoulders. I was running with the last third of the grid in the first rounds. Now, I know I can mix with the second third of the pack and do well.

After three rounds, Sondermann was second in the Winter series standings.

Round 4, Sunday Feb. 15

Qualifying on a wet track was not easy for the Gelles Team. Sondermann finished in 6th place, Camirand in 13th and Yager in 20th. "It was exciting but I couldn't see anything, said the Illinois resident." Track was dry when the race started late afternoon: Gustavo completed in 5th position but was reclassified in 6th after he was found guilty of blocking a competitor. Marc-Antoine, remembering the previous race, was slow in two restarts and ended up in 15th place. Michael Yager came from behind and finished in 14th place.

Tuesday Feb. 17, last round

Gelles Team will prepare the cars for a new track layout as the Grand-Am track will be used next Tuesday for the last round. "Using a longer part of the oval means higher speeds ", claims Sondermann."We should reach more than 160 mph (260 km/h), adds Yager. If safety is a concern, we were told we could go back to the regular layout. "

Coming into the last round, Yager is only two points from leading rookies. "Except for today, I was the quickest rookie and I believe I can get the award next Tuesday. "

After the last race, Tuesday afternoon, a few Gelles drivers will take part in the new V6 testing session. Gustavo Sondermann will be one of the first drivers to race the car in North America with a 30-lap encounter while Michael Yager will get a 10-lap sprint.

-gr-

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Marc-Antoine Camirand