Watkins Glen preview

Fran-Am Pro competitors to tackle Watkins Glen International Montreal, Canada, June 18, 2003 -- The fifth round of the 2003 North American Fran-Am Pro Championship will be staged this Saturday on Watkins Glen International's road course as...

Fran-Am Pro competitors to tackle Watkins Glen International

Montreal, Canada, June 18, 2003 -- The fifth round of the 2003 North American Fran-Am Pro Championship will be staged this Saturday on Watkins Glen International's road course as part of the Rolex Grand-Am event. This year's Fran-Am Pro championship is an extremely close battle as only 44 points separate the top six drivers in the standings and because the first four races of the year were won by four different competitors.

British driver Robert Bell, the 24-year old racer from West Hunsbury, U.K. who drives for Team FirstAir has been the most consistent driver of all so far this year. Bell scored a victory, two second places and one third to collect 115 championship points. "Well, yes I have started to think a little bit about the title," said Bell after Round 4 held at the Air Canada Grand Prix last Sunday, a race he finished in second position. "I must say that the idea of driving a Formula Renault V6 car next year becomes immensely appealing!" The ladder system of Fran-Am Sport is designed to provide the most talented drivers with unique opportunities to graduate to faster categories. The Fran-Am Pro champion will be awarded a free drive in the Formula Renault V6 Euro Cup next season -- a prize worth half a million dollars U.S.

Another British driver, Charles Hall lies second in the standings with a total of 105 points. In the first four races, Hall crossed the line respectively in fifth, first, second and third place. Hall, the 20-year old Fran-Am Pro World Winter Series champion began the season with team Gelles Racing but has switched to the Toronto-based Autotecnica stable just before the two Montreal events.

Sixteeen-year old rookie driver Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Quebec currently lies third on the points' table, having won his first car race last weekend in front of his home crowd at the Air Canada F1 Grand Prix. Ranger, who drove karts in Europe for the past two seasons began his car racing career this year as a member of the AIM Autosport team.

Fourth in the standings is Toronto, Canada's Mark Wilkins who has also been extremely consistent so far this year, having clinched three fourth place finishes in the last races. The 19-year old competitor has his mind set on a podium finish in Watkins Glen this Saturday. Guadalajara, Mexico's Aurelio Lopez Jr. is fifth in the points and is the fourth different driver to have scored a victory this season. The Mexican racer scored victory in the season's opener held in Phoenix, Arizona on May 3rd.

It will be the first time in the Fran-Am Pro history that these single seaters will tackle the grueling and fast 3.44-mile Watkins Glen International's road course. And with close to 30 cars on the track, it will be a fantastic and exciting battle to watch.

The Fran-Am Sport Pro North American Championship is a professional formula car developmental racing series designed to hone the driving skills of the up and coming road racers. Each race features a U.S. $28,500 Michelin International supported cash prize fund, with the overall series champion winning a fully paid ride in the Euro Cup Formula Renault V6 series in Europe next year.

The Fran-Am Pro open wheel car features a spec carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, a sealed 2.0-litre/186-horsepower four cylinder engine, front and rear wings, a six-speed sequential gearbox and spec-Michelin Sport slick racing tires.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Aurelio Lopez , Charles Hall , Andrew Ranger , Mark Wilkins