Formula X - Nurburgring
The Nürburgring LMES meeting saw the third and fourth rounds of the Formula X Sport Championship. The organisers of this new series were hoping to have 24 cars on the grid at Silverstone, 16 were brought to the ‘Ring.

dailysportscar.comThe Formula X organisation is looking to establish its concept in markets that presently do not have a strong motorsport tradition, and provide national federations with a professionally presented, yet cost-effective single seater series. “The LMES package is a good way of presenting our concept in Europe,” says Formula X press officer, Serge van Bockryck. The Van Diemen-built single seaters are prepared and serviced at the Formula X home base in Belgium. Formula X provides the whole technical package, and also the personnel. Every race engineer works with four drivers during the weekend. Working out of a common facility in the paddock, the drivers are encouraged to share information.

Performance-wise, there is hardly any difference between the single seater and “sport” trim, which apart from the bodywork are technically identical. Equipped with a 4cyl. Ford/Mazda-based engine that produces 190bhp, and running on standard Dunlop tyres, the cars’ performance is on the same level as Formula 3 – at a fraction of the cost of Formula 3, as the Formula X organisers are quick to point out.

Within the LMES package, Formula X is intended as a series for young talent. But the new concept also appeals to veteran sportscar racers: Fulvio Ballabio took part in the inaugural Formula X race at Monza; Hervé Regout, regular competitor at Le Mans and in the World Championship of the '80s and '90s, is making an appearance at the Nürburgring. He made it to the podium in race 1, but his second race ended early.

One of the drivers who has committed to the new series for the whole season is Dieter Huber. The car itself, and the concept behind the series convinced him to join Formula X for the 2004 season. “Robert Lechner is a friend of mine, he pointed the series out to me, and in terms of value for money, this series is the best - the car is state-of-the-art technology, with a sequential gearbox, and the technical side of the campaign is very professional. The tyres tend to fade fairly quickly, and we could always use more power; but other than that, this series has the ingredients of a success.”

When the racing commenced on Saturday, young Frenchman Benjamin Poron made an early get-away ahead of Kasuyuki Nishizawa and the surprising Jean-Yves Mallat, who had started ninth. Also making up places on that first lap was Austrian driver Dieter Huber, running sixth after having started 11th.

Poron proved to have some difficulty in keeping Nishizawa at bay, and on lap three the veteran Japanese driver passed the young Frenchman, with Marco Panzavuota now in third. Despite some physical inconvenience – he had changed seats between the qualifying sessions, and now found his arms were going numb - Poron kept Nishizawa in sight, while Huber claimed back third place. Lap after lap Nishizawa kept bettering the fastest race lap, but on lap seven he overshot his braking point and spun, giving Poron the chance to claim back first place.

With a solid background in Formula 3, Poron controlled the race till the end, scoring his second win of the season. “By the end of the race I could barely move my head and arm,” Poron said before he went off to seek medical help and get back in shape for round 4. Third place went to sportscar veteran Hervé Regout (third in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1987), followed by most of the rest of the field, fourth to ninth all trailing the car in front by a few tenths of a second, which proves the competitiveness of the series.

The second race of the day proved to be an even closer affair, especially the battle for third. Up front Poron and Yamazaki battled for the lead, with the Japanese driver seeking revenge for his DNS in round 3. Poron, still hampered by his back and shoulder, had to let Yamazaki go, as well as fellow Team Goh driver Nishizawa (on lap 2) and Italian Enea Casoni (on lap 3). But a lap later Casoni spun and dropped back to sixth, finding himself locked in a serious battle for position with German driver René Wolff and Belgian lady driver Sylvie Delcour, replacing Vanina Ickx for this race.

On lap 9, Nishizawa decided to call it a day after the gear linkage broke, meaning Poron could move up to second, and meaning Wolff, Delcour and Casoni were now in fact battling for the final step on the podium. A few laps later, Delcour’s life was made easier by Casoni’s car developing a problem and René Wolff running out of steam. For the third time in four races, a lady made it to the podium, after the two podium finishes of Vanina Ickx in Monza.

In the Formula X Championship standings, Poron now has a 22-point lead over Yamazaki, with Ickx and Panzavuota in third and fourth.
Johannes Gauglica

Result Round 3
1. Benjamin Poron (F) 15 laps (77.055 kms) in 31m58s463
2. Kasuyuki Nishizawa (J) + 0m05s528
3. Hervé Regout (B) + 0m25s026
4. Marco Panzavuota (I) + 0m30s660
5. René Wolff (D) + 0m30s769
6. David Hauser (L) + 0m31s443
7. Dieter Huber (A) + 0m32s153
8. Pierre Merche (B) + 0m32s705
9. Sylvie Delcour (B) + 0m32s956
10. Julien Gerbi (F) + 0m57s157
11. Jean-Yves Mallat (USA) + 0m57s363
12. Christophe d’Ansembourg (B) + 1m01s284
13. Alain Van den Hove (B) + 1m29s488
14. Charles Depauw (B) + 2m02s323
15. Enea Casoni (I) + 8 laps
DNS Shinsuke Yamazaki (J)

Result Round 4
1. Shinsuke Yamazaki (J) 15 laps (77.055 kms) in 31m41s942
2. Benjamin Poron (F) + 0m25s765
3. Sylvie Delcour (B) + 0m43s037
4. David Hauser (L) + 0m46s226
5. Marco Panzavuota (I) + 0m51s885
6. René Wolff (D) + 0m54s602
7. Jean-Yves Mallat (USA) + 1m02s145
8. Christophe d’Ansembourg (B) + 1m32s470
9. Alain Van den Hove (B) + 1m35s620
10. Charles Depauw (B) + 1m55s743
11. Dieter Huber (A) + 3 laps
12. Enea Casoni (I) + 5 laps
13. Pierre Merche (B) + 5 laps
14. Kasuyuki Nishizawa (J) + 6 laps
15. Julien Gerbi (F) + 6 laps
DNF Hervé Regout (B) accident.

Points Standings
1 Poron F 15 20 20 15 70
2 Yamazaki J 20 8 0 20 48
3 Ickx B 12 15 DNP DNP 27
4 Panzavuota I 6 0 10 8 24
5 Huber A 8 10 4 0 22
6 Hauser L DNP DNP 6 10 16
7 Nishizawa J 0 0 15 0 15
8 Gerbi F 1 12 1 0 14
9 Delcour B DNP DNP 2 12 14
10 Wolff D DNP DNP 8 6 14
11 Mallat USA 3 6 0 4 13
12 Regout B DNP DNP 12 0 12
13 Casoni I 10 0 0 0 10
14 Sommereau F 2 4 DNP DNP 6
15 Pappolla F 4 0 DNP DNP 4
16 Ballabio I 0 3 DNP DNP 3
17 Merche B DNP DNP 3 0 3
18 d’Ansembourg B DNP DNP 0 3 3
19 Van den Hove B DNP DNP 0 2 2
20 Depauw B DNP DNP 0 1 1.


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