Camirand wins round 4 in Watkins Glen. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 21st, 2003 -- Former U.S. Formula 2000 and Formula Atlantic competitor Marc-Antoine Camirand of St. Leonard d'Aston, Quebec won today the 5th round of the 2003 North ...
Camirand wins round 4 in Watkins Glen.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 21st, 2003 -- Former U.S. Formula 2000 and Formula Atlantic competitor Marc-Antoine Camirand of St. Leonard d'Aston, Quebec won today the 5th round of the 2003 North American Fran-Am Pro Championship held in wet conditions on Watkins Glen's road course, located in the state of New York.
Camirand, 24, who joined the ranks of Team Gelles last week in time for the Air Canada Grand Prix in Montreal, displayed his tremendous driving skills by capturing pole position in the sole qualifying session held on partially wet track this morning. Mark Wilkins of Toronto, Canada qualified second, beating Antoine Bessette (St-Bruno, Quebec) Juan Martin Ponte (Entre Rios, Argentina), Patricio Larrea Jr. (Quito, Ecuador), and series' newcomer Salvador Duran of Mexico. Point standings' leader Robert Bell of Great Britain qualified a lowly 13th, one position behind the winner of Round 4 held in Montreal last week, Canadian Andrew Ranger.
The field took the green this afternoon on a wet and slippery tarmac. Poor visibility due to the spray of water immediately became a factor in the opening laps of the race. Camirand, with a clear view in front of him, led the pack. Meanwhile, down the field, Hall and Ranger were quickly making progress. On lap 6, Mark Wilkins lost control of his car which hit the wall and bounced back on the racing line. Antoine Bessette could not avoid smashing into the spinning car, but luckily both drivers were not injured. Many other drivers lost control of their cars, forcing the Safety Car to take the track on a regular basis. The last full course yellow happened just a few laps before the end of the race. The green was given with two laps to go. The third-place Ranger managed to slip ahead of Charles Hall of Great Britain to secure second place. Ranger caught the race leader -- Camirand -- but never found an opening.
At the end, the order was Camirand, Ranger, Hall, followed by Ricardo Imery of Venezuela, Jean Martin Ponte, Salvator Duran and Robert Bell. It was the closest finish of the season as just a half a car's length separated the cars of Camirand and Ranger at the chequered.
WINNER -- MARC-ANTOINE CAMIRAND (CANADA)
" It was a strange week-end with some sessions held on a dry track and others held in the rain. We constantly had to change the set up of the car to suit the ever changing conditions. I got to grips with the Fran-Am car during Thursday's practice session and I really felt comfortable. Last week was my first time in a racing car since the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix of August of last year. The car was working really great. There were many full course yellows which complicated the race. On the last restart, Ranger was really close to me. I almost lost control of my car during the last lap. I took a fast corner flat out in the rain and my car really went sideways! I caught it back and I think Ranger also lifted at that moment."
SECOND PLACE -- ANDREW RANGER (CANADA)
" I'm really happy. It was a great race. I passed five cars on the opening lap alone and then I passed one car on every lap. On lap 6 Mark Wilkins spun in front of me and Antoine Bessette had nowhere to go. Juan Martin Ponte went around the outside but I drove straight for the inside. That allowed me to pass Ponte. On the last restart I passed Charles Hall and then put pressure on Camirand. I finished the race just behind him. I am now looking forward to the next race held in Toronto. "
THIRD PLACE -- CHARLES HALL (GREAT BRITAIN)
" I am just happy and lucky to have survived the first lap of the race. The spray was terrible -- we couldn't see a thing out there. I listen to the other engines' tone. Others lifted while I kept my right foot down. I was passing people in almost every corner. I made it to second place but on the last restart my gearbox got stuck in fourth gear, allowing Ranger to pass me. I'm glad it's over because it's been a difficult weekend. "