DRIVERS: FRANCK LAGORCE

Name: Franck Lagorce
Nationality: France
Date of birth: September 1, 1968 - LĂ•Hay-Les_Roses, nr Paris

Born near Paris, Lagorce began karting early and won his first major title at the age of 13. In 1987 he entered the Volant Elkron competition at Montlhery, the famous old speedway to the south of Paris, and finished runner-up behind Christophe Bouchut, who would go on to become the French F3 champion of 1991.

Both Bouchut and Lagorce started out in Formula Ford 1600 in 1988 but in his first season Franck was only able to claim the lap record at Le Mans and finish fifth in the championship. He was well-placed to win the title the following year, but it all went wrong and he ended the year fourth in the championship - but without a win.

He decided on a radical course of action and, for 1990 took the unusual step of switching from the Ford promotional series to Formule Renault - its rival championship.

He teamed up with Didier Panissie's ASM team and, using an Orion chassis, was runner-up in the championship with one win at Charade and a string of second places. It had been a competitive year with Emmanuel Collard, Guillaume Gomez, Emmanuel Clerico and Olivier Couvreur all battling it out.

His performances in 1990 enabled Franck to graduate to Formula 3 last year with Serge Saulnier's Promatecme team. Driving a Dallara he won at Magny-Cours and Dijon and finished fourth in the championship - the best of the newcomers. It was enough for him to land important new backing from the prestigious Elf/Gitanes Blondes La Filiere scheme.

In 1992 he stayed with Saulnier and won the French title, beating his team mate Clerico. In 1993 he graduated to F3000 with DAMS winning two races and in 1994 he switched to the Apomatox team and won at Silverstone and Hockenheim to finish runner-up in the title to Jean-Christophe Boullion. He made his GP debut in Japan with the Ligier team. He was named as test driver for the Forti F1 team in 1996. A protege of the Elf petrol company he suffered badly from its withdrawal from F1 but went on to build a career in sportscar racing.

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