ZWOLSMAN TOPS KASEMETS IN CLEVELAND TO SECURE SECOND CAREER ATLANTIC POLE POSITION
CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 25, 2005) -- Dutchman Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) made all the right moves on the track and in the garage Saturday morning as he won his second career Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama pole position for the second of two races this weekend in Cleveland.
The upstart rookie, who entered this weekend ranked second in the Atlantic series standings, struggled early in this morning's 30-minute qualifying session for Sunday's BOSPoker.com Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Cleveland (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, July 9 beginning at 2 p.m. ET). But the Condor Motorsports team made some changes in the car's setup and Zwolsman adjusted his driving lines on the challenging, 10-turn, 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport road circuit and he was able to post the fastest lap of the weekend late in qualifying. Zwolsman's mark of 1:07.854 (111.734 mph) was established on his 17th lap and earned the 26-year-old racer the right to start up front for tomorrow's Round 6 of the 2005 Atlantic championship.
After finishing second in qualifying on Friday behind series point leader Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) for today's first race of the weekend, Zwolsman switched spots with his championship rival in this morning's session. Kasemets wound up with the second-fastest lap in today's qualifying with a top time of 1:07.977 (111.532 mph). After leading qualifying early, Kasemets said his Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis squad elected to not put on new tires near the end of the session, as some competitors did. He felt he might've been able to win the pole if he had the new rubber on the car, but he knows he'll still be starting on the front row tomorrow and will have new tires for the start of the race.
Zwolsman closed the gap in the championship standings with this morning's efforts. Kasemets will carry a 110-point total into today's first race of the weekend while Zwolsman has 104 points entering Round 5.
After qualifying third on Friday, Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) bettered his time from yesterday but wound up in the same position in qualifying for Race 2. Bessette was clocked at 1:08.057 (111.401 mph) this morning as he's now qualified among the top five in all six races this season.
Continuing a strong weekend at her team's home race, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) led qualifying early on and wound up with her career-best qualifying result of fourth place today with a top lap of 1:08.542 (110.612 mph). Legge, who races for Polestar Racing Group in Chardon, Ohio -- about 20 minutes from Cleveland -- qualified fifth on Friday for the opening event of the weekend.
German rookie Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) owned a lap of 1:08.989 (109.896 mph) in fifth position this morning as he has now qualified among the top five in all six events this season. On Friday, Mexico's David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/Aviacsa/RocaAcero/Multigama/Martiga) qualified seventh. He improved his spot by one position today with a fast lap of 1:09.146 (109.646 mph).
Qualifying seventh for tomorrow's race was Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) as he checked in at 1:09.318 (109.374 mph). Chris Dyson was eighth in the qualifying order at 1:09.734 (108.722 mph).
With a time of 1:10.589 (107.405 mph), Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/DeWalt Tools/Ramset Tools) qualified ninth this morning and Leonardo Maia (#2 Konica Minolta) completed his second career Atlantic qualifying session in 10th position with a lap of 1:10.644 (107.321 mph).
Dan Cobb (#9 Camelot Construction) emerged as the top runner in the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup qualifying for Race #2 as he was 12th overall with a time of 1:12.488 (104.591 mph).
The first Atlantic race of the weekend here at Cleveland will take the green flag at 12:45 p.m. ET today. The race is scheduled for 32 laps or 50 minutes. Tomorrow's second race of the weekend is also 32 laps and will take the green flag at 11 a.m. Follow all of the action of this weekend's races live through the Timing link on the series' official web site www.toyotaatlantic.com. Both races can also be seen on tape delay on SPEED Channel on Saturday, July 9 beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
Following are the quotes from the top three qualifiers of this morning's qualifying session:
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (Condor Motorsports): "Even during the session I was still improving my lines. I was not very quick at the beginning of the qualifying and it came slowly. It definitely paid off that I made some changes to my driving lines. We did make some changes on the car as well. At the beginning I was not totally happy with the car, so I came in and made a few changes, and they seemed to work really well. (On the track conditions) There was more rubber on the track today because the Champ Car put quite a lot of rubber on. It is also cooler this morning so I guess that's why the track was a bit faster today. There is always pressure for qualifying because you seek the ultimate speed of the car and the point we score for the pole could make a difference between us three at the end of the season."
TONIS KASEMETS (Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis): "There was more rubber on the track today so at first we decided not to put any new tires on as we thought our advantage was big enough. But at the end of the session everybody put on new tires and Charles ended up being faster than us. On qualifying you always try to get the pole but you also have to make the decision whether to save tires for the race or not. I am not frustrated about my second position because I know that we have new rubber for the race. It was not a stupid decision. We have a very good race car and we are starting from the front row, so if nobody hits me from the back at the start we should be fine."
ANTOINE BESSETTE (Unik Auto Design -- Polestar Racing): "I found more speed in me but I could not get the car to go faster. So we had to come back to the pits a couple of times and make a few changes. But at the end we did not get too much traffic and we managed to put some fast laps together, so we finally ran a good time. I had an off course excursion this morning. It is scary when I think about it now, but at the time, I just wanted to get back on track and drop my times. Since the temperature is a bit lower today I think that the grip was better."