Alex Ellis (St Catharines, Ontario, Canada) has snatched an early points lead in the Jim Russell “Race of Champions” shoot-out after placing first & second in the opening races at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma on Saturday.
Ellis leads from fellow 2010 Future Driver Gary Carlton by two points after two of the scheduled six race invitational competition which runs June-August and sees the outright points winner claiming a seat in Round 9 of the Firestone Indy Lights at the Infineon Raceway.
“It would have been nice to take both the wins today but I was really hot on my tires the entire first race," said Ellis. "It left me with not much for the second race, the front tires were just about done, and I had to be really aware of that. That made it a battle to keep Smrz behind me the whole race and that became my focus. I can now look forward to next month and hope to maintain my championship lead."
Qualifying had been tight with the two Future Drivers filling the front row after 2008 & '09 JRCS champion Brett Smrz made a slight mistake on his best lap and would occupy the inside of row two aiming to put his JRCS experience to good effect in the two, 25-minute races.
Polesetter Carlton led away Ellis at the green light of Race One with Smrz pressing the two “rookies” but the Canadian dived into the lead at Turn 2 with Carlton spinning down the field on the next lap allowing Smrz to close in on Ellis. Ellis maintained a 1.2secs advantage on Lap 10 while Carlton reduced a 18secs deficit and overtook Galante in Turn Seven on lap 11 before applying intense pressure to Altberg for third place.
In Race Two, pole-sitter Carlton and Ellis exchanged the lead on the opening lap, Gary taking the advantage when Alex lost time in Turn 9 while Liefooghe overtook Altberg for fifth position on lap four. Carlton extended his lead to 3.6secs by mid-distance before backing off while Smrz chased Ellis for second. Carlton took the checker 2.5secs ahead of Ellis who finished 1.4sec ahead of Smrz.
All drove identical FJR-50 single-seaters owned and prepared in house by the Jim Russell Championship Series ensuring equality and placing the emphasis of success on driver talent. The Lola-built Formula Three machines feature a carbon/kevlar fiber composite monocoque, a sequential five-speed gearbox and a two-liter, turbocharged Mitsubishi engine producing 300hp.
The next two rounds are staged on July 9 with the concluding races on August 6 with the champion going forward to the Indy Lights Carneros 100 race at Sonoma on August 22.