EDWARDS CLINCHES FPA WINTER SERIES TITLE IN STYLE Lally takes Fifth and Sixth at Brands Hatch Formula Palmer Audi Finale Paul Edwards continued his spectacular form today by winning round three of the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series in his...
EDWARDS CLINCHES FPA WINTER SERIES TITLE IN STYLE Lally takes Fifth and Sixth at Brands Hatch Formula Palmer Audi Finale
Paul Edwards continued his spectacular form today by winning round three of the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series in his patriotically liveried Team USA Scholarship Van Diemen at Brands Hatch, England. The result was enough to clinch the championship crown with one race remaining. Countrymen Andy Lally and Jeff Simmons also showed good form, finishing fifth and eighth, respectively, in the final standings after today's double-header race meeting. Edwards mounted a challenge for the lead in the fourth and final race, but was caught on the outside line when his main adversary, pole-sitting Englishman Paul Munn, missed a gearshift on the exit of the Druids hairpin turn. Edwards fell to fifth place in the ensuing melee and wisely elected not to press the issue. "I knew I'd won the championship and I could see as he came down the hill [toward Graham Hill Bend] that he wasn't going to lift," recounted Edwards. "I could have closed the door on everybody, but I just wanted to bring the car home in one piece. To be perfectly honest, the car looked too good to crash!" Going into the final two races, Edwards, 21, from Santa Maria, Calif., held a perfect record by virtue of winning the opening two races at Snetterton the previous week. Munn, though, who has contested the entire Formula Palmer Audi Championship in 1999, kept up the pressure by narrowly snaring the pole for each of today's events (by a combined tally of 0.162sec!). Edwards qualified second both times, but made a spectacular start to the first 15-lap race and took the lead from Munn at the first corner. He was never headed, although he almost made life difficult for himself when he misjudged his approach to the infamous Paddock Hill Bend on lap seven. "I made a mistake," Edwards admitted. "I made a great start, took the lead, and then pushed really hard for the first five laps to build up an advantage." (Indeed, he stretched his lead to more than three seconds inside the first four laps.) "Unfortunately, I also overworked the rear tires, which started to lose grip. On that lap I just went in [to the corner] a bit too hot, got onto the damp line and only just kept it out of the gravel trap." His advantage was instantly halved, and in the closing laps, Munn, who needed to win in order to retain his chance of winning the championship, mounted a determined challenge for the lead. Edwards, though, was up to the challenge and finally took the checkered flag 0.280sec ahead. "I'm over the moon," said the gifted Edwards, who also won last year's EFDA Formula Opel Winter Series while carrying the colors of the Team USA Scholarship. "It's especially satisfying to win with the support of Team USA. It means a lot. "There was a lot of pressure," he continued. "Two weeks ago, I was really nervous, but now I've achieved what we all set out to do and I hope it helps me to sort something out for next year. I need some publicity in the States after racing and living in Europe for four years, and this was the best way to do that." Added noted auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw, who first established the Team USA Scholarship in 1990: "Paul has done a fabulous job these last two weekends. Formula Palmer Audi is set up along the lines of the Barber Dodge Pro Series in the U.S., with almost identical cars, so the emphasis is on driver skill. The series is very competitive and while there were a lot of talented drivers, Paul, by winning three of the four races, has demonstrated his ability. He's a class act both in and out of the car and clearly has an extremely bright future ahead of him." Lally and Simmons finished sixth and seventh in today's first race, then followed Edwards across the finish line to claim fifth and sixth, respectively, in the final race. "It was a great experience," said Lally, 24, from Northport, N.Y., after securing a fine fifth place in the final championship standings. "I'm so grateful to everyone who was involved in putting this scholarship together. The racing is tough over here [in Europe]. I learned a lot." Lally's sentiments were echoed by Simmons, 23, from E. Granby, Conn., who endured more than his share of misfortunes during the two weeks but, like Lally, impressed everyone at FPA with his pace and his positive attitude. "I made a couple of mistakes, which really hurt me," said Simmons, "but I definitely learned a lot, and if I could come back, there are a few things I would do differently. Like Paul and Andy, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported the scholarship." The Team USA Scholarship has been made possible by the support of Valvoline, CART, Tasman Motorsports, Audi, PacWest Racing, Mercedes-Benz USA, Road Racing Drivers Club, Klein Tools, Skip Barber Racing School, No Fear and Mitel Semiconductor.
Race 1 results: 1, Paul Edwards (USA), 11m25.213s, 96.73mph; 2, Paul Munn (GB), 1m25.493s; 3, Tom Sisley (GB), 11m26.273s; 4, Giorgio Pantano (I), 11m29.278s; 5, Dan Hazlewood (GB), 11m36.954s; 6, Andy Lally (USA), 11m37.657s; 7, Jeff Simmons (USA), 11m37.850s; etc. Fastest lap: Edwards and Sisley, 44.669s, 98.82mph.
Race 2 results: 1, Munn, 11m24.747s, 98.43mph; 2, Sisley, 11m24.767s; 3, Pantano, 11m25.100s; 4, Edwards, 11m27.581s; 5, Lally, 11m29.071s; 6, Simmons, 11m29.525s; etc. Fastest lap: Sisley, 44.645s, 98.88mph.
Final championship positions: 1, EDWARDS, 72pts; 2, Munn, 64; 3, Pantano, 52; 4, Adam Carroll (IRL), 48; 5, LALLY, 44; 6, Martin Rihs (A) and Hazlewood, 42; 8, SIMMONS, 39.