Victory in the wet for Robert Bell Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 14th, 2003 -- Twenty-four year old British driver Robert Bell captured victory today in the first of two Fran-Am Pro races held at the Air Canada Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal,...
Victory in the wet for Robert Bell
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 14th, 2003 -- Twenty-four year old British driver Robert Bell captured victory today in the first of two Fran-Am Pro races held at the Air Canada Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada. This race represented Round 3 of the 2003 North American Fran-Am Pro Championship.
Sixteen-year old rookie Andrew Ranger started the 15-lap race from pole position, having posted the fastest time in the qualifying session at the wheel of his AIM Autosport-prepared car. However, rain started the fall minutes before the start, forcing the officials to call for a Wet Race and have all cars fitted with rain tires.
During the opening lap, Ranger losr two places to British drivers Robert Bell (Team FirstAir) and Charles Hall (Team Autotecnica). Because of the slippety conditions, numerous cars spun off the race track, forcing the Pace Car to take the track many times. On lap 8 the order was Bell, Hall, Ranger, Can Artam and Juan Martin Ponte.
On lap 11, race officials black flagged Ranger for having short cutted the chicane. Ponte was driving a solid race and made it to third place when Ranger pitted for his stop-and-go penalty. Charles Hall drove extremely hard in the last two laps of the race to pass Bell but could not find a way around. At the end the order was Bell, Hall, Ponte, Mark Wilkins (Toronto, Canada), Sean McIntosh (Coquitlam, Canada), Marc-Antoine Camirand (St. Leonard d'Aston, Canada) and Kuno Wittmer (Hudson, Canada).
WINNER -- ROBERT BELL (Great Britain)
"It was a very good race for me. The problem was the Safety Car coming onto the track on a regular basis. I try hard not to make driving mistakes despite the difficult conditions. I had a really good fight with Charles Hall and it was really exciting. We practice in the rain yesterday, we then qualified on the dry this morning and it was wet again for the race. The conditions were difficult but luckily it's a great track to overtake. "
SECOND PLACE -- CHARLES HALL (Great Britain)
" There were different levels of grip on different racing lines. The car would slide very suddenly on occasions. I enjoyed the fight with Robert Bell. We ran these last laps really close to one each other. Before the race I knew Ranger would not be a factor because he has very limited experience in the rain. "
THIRD PLACE -- JUAN MARTIN PONTE (Argentina)
" It was a very difficult race for me. My car was set-up for the dry and it was very difficult to drive. I tried to push hard for the first eight or nine laps and then I decided that third place was fine today. I tried not to do mistakes and to stay on the track so I could collect some more championship points. "
Next round: Formula 1 Air Canada Grand Prix, Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, Montreal (Canada), tomorrow morning, June 15th.