MARCH 31, 2003
Franck Montagny, the Renault F1 test driver, finished second in the Nissan World Series last year and has given notice that this year he intends to win the title. The Frenchman won both races at the opening round of the championship at Jarama on Sunday in his Gabord Competition entry. It was a good day for the F1 test drivers as Williams's Marc Gene finished second in the second race.
The first race was in the wet and Montagny was able to drive away from the field. His only worry was in the early laps when he was challenged briefly by former Jaguar test driver Narain Karthikeyan (Team Carlin). The Indian eventually went off and brought out a Safety Car so Montagny lost a five second lead. At the restart he drove away from the field again to win by nearly 16 seconds.
Former F1 racer Enrique Bernoldi was on course for second place but was jumped in the closing stages by the promising Ander Vilarino is his Team Epsilon entry. Montagny's team mate Heikki Kovalainen, one of the Renault Sport Junior Team, finished fourth despite punting off Gene.
The second race was in the dry but Montagny was not affected. He held off an early challenge from Bernoldi and won the 26-lap event by more than 45 seconds. Gene was second with Kovalainen third. Former F3000 runner Bas Leinders was fourth with Karthikeyan fifth and American Paul Edwards sixth.