Lopez takes win in Phoenix Phoenix, Arizona, May 3rd, 2003 -- Mexican race car driver Aurelio Lopez captured today his maiden Fran-Am victory in Round 1 of the 2003 Fran-Am Sport 2000 North American Professional Championship Series in Phoenix ...
Lopez takes win in Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona, May 3rd, 2003 -- Mexican race car driver Aurelio Lopez captured today his maiden Fran-Am victory in Round 1 of the 2003 Fran-Am Sport 2000 North American Professional Championship Series in Phoenix International Raceway's road course.
Argentina's Juan Martin Ponte started from pole position and led the first half of the race. On lap 6, he already was four seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. Lopez was running in second place, followed by Britain's Robert Bell, Canadian Andrew Ranger and Sean McIntosh.
On lap 21, a full course yellow bunched up the field. At the restart three laps later, Ponte say in the lead. A few laps later, Ponte was passed going into Corner 1 by Lopez. Ponte turned in too late and spun, falling back into fourth place. Simultaneously, Ranger managed to slide inside Bell in Corner 1. On lap 27 there was another full course yellow. At the restart on lap 30 there was a major contact mid-pack. Tim Barber's car was sent into the wall and ricocheted in the middle of the track. That forced the officials to stop the race and display the checkered flag because Barber's car was right in the middle of the race track. The finish order was Aurelio Lopez, Andrew Ranger, Robert Bell and Juan Martin Ponte.
WINNER - Aurelio LOPEZ (Mexico)
"I stayed focused all race long, waiting for the leader to make a mistake. It happened afer the second restart. I was ready and I went on the inside. Ponte ran wide and did not get it back in time and spun. My car was well balanced and I was doing consistent lap times. I am extremely happy with this, my first Fran-Am victory."
SECOND PLACE -- Andrew RANGER (Canada)
"What a race that was! I had a good fight with Robert Bell. I passed him with a good move. I could have passed race leader Lopez if the race would have stayed green until the end. I had my move prepared but the red flag stopped the race. This was my first car race and I am extremely pleased with the result."
THIRD PLACE - Robert BELL (Great Britain)
"This was the hardest race of my life, especially with this kind of intense heat. It was hard racing from start to finish. Ponte got a good lead while Aurelio and I had a good battle. The full course yellows helped me out. On the second restart there was a back marker in the way and I was forced to back off and that's when Ranger passed me."
Next round: Barber Motorsport Park, Alabama, May 16-17-18