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Franck Montagny

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Biography

Franck Montagny (born January 5, 1978) is a French motor racing driver. He is currently in Formula One, serving as third driver for the Toyota F1 team after briefly racing for the Super Aguri F1 team in 2006.

Montagny was born in Feurs, France and started racing karts there in 1988, winning the cadet class in the French Karting Championship in 1992, and the National 1 class the following year.

Montagny had a breakthrough year in Formula Three in 1998, including a pole position at the Spa-Francorchamps race ahead of much more experienced drivers including Mark Webber, Luciano Burti, Enrique Bernoldi and Peter Dumbreck. He repeated the feat in the Zandvoort Masters in Holland later that year, beating then German Formula Three champion Nick Heidfeld. He consistently outpaced long-time team-mate S├ębastien Bourdais and ended the season with 10 wins from 22 races, including 12 pole positions, finishing the championship as runner-up behind David Saelens.

A repeat of his unsuccessful year in Formula 3000 prompted a move to World Series by Nissan in 2001, signing for the Epsilon by Graff team. He won 8 races out of a possible 16, and beat Tomas Scheckter to the championship. He changed teams for 2002 to Racing Engineering, but was beaten into second place in the championship by Ricardo Zonta. He supplemented this with a sixth place finish for Oreca at the Le Mans 24 hours.

Montagny returned to the World Series by Nissan in 2003 with Gabord Competicion, and secured his second championship title with nine victories, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Justin Wilson. This performance earned him a test with the Renault Formula One team, in which he impressed sufficiently to earn a contract as a test driver in 2003, moving up to become third driver during the 2004 & 2005 seasons. He did an impressive one-off for Jordan as third driver on the Friday of the 2005 European Grand Prix, clocking a quicker time than Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro, the official Jordan drivers.

For 2006, Super Aguri took Montagny on as third driver; however, he was promoted to full race driver in May after it was announced that Yuji Ide was to drop back into testing; Ide was demoted at the behest of the governing body who considered him insufficiently experienced for Formula One. Montagny hence competed in his first Grand Prix, the 2006 European Grand Prix on May 7, qualifying last and retiring with a hydraulics problem. He did not finish his second race 2006 Spanish Grand Prix: After a great start, enabling him to gain 3 positions, he retired on lap 10 with a mechanical failure. It was third time lucky for him at the Monaco Grand Prix, when he finished the 78-lap race in 16th place, three laps behind the leader.

During the break between the British Grand Prix and the Canadian Grand Prix, Montagny was able to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing second for Pescarolo Sport behind only the dominating Audi factory R10s. He was the first active Formula One driver to also participate at Le Mans in the same year since Bertrand Gachot in 1994.

On July 12, Super Aguri announced that Sakon Yamamoto would replace him from the German Grand Prix onwards. Montagny did not appear in his role as third driver for the next two weekends as only two Super Aguri SA06s were available but a third chassis was prepared during the summer break enabling him to reprise this role at the Turkish Grand Prix.



 


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