Simona De Silvestro did not start on the pole and did not lead the first twenty some laps of the opening race of the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. But, no matter: she led the most important lap, the last one.
Simona De Silvestro did not start on the pole and did not lead the first twenty some laps of the opening race of the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. But, no matter: she led the most important lap, the last one. Thus, De Silvestro becomes the second woman in history to win a race in the Atlantic Championship series. Katharine Legge was the first, taking the win, also at Long Beach in 2005. With Danica Patrick's win at Twin Ring Motegi yesterday, this gives a whole different context to the term "girls' weekend".
"It was very tough weekend, especially on Friday, but we got everything together," De Silvestro said. "I worked on myself also from Friday to Saturday, and it helped a lot. For the race, I was pretty confident, because the car felt really good. I just had to keep it on the track."
De Silvestro, who turns 20 on September 1st, capitalized on the gearbox failure that put polesitter Jonathan Bomarito out of the race. Bomarito spun while going through Turn One, and that's all it took to give the race lead to the lady racer. Bomarito went on to finish fifth in the race, which kicks off the 35th anniversary of the series.
"On the restart, I was a little bit nervous, because I'd never done a restart (as the leader). I thought maybe Alan would come close, but I think I did a good job and just kept going. It's awesome," expressed De Silvestro. "It's an awesome weekend because Danica won and I won. It's perfect. Congratulations to Danica as well."
Even though there was a caution late in the race with a resultant restart, the Swiss driver never looked back and led every lap until the finish. Orange California's Alan Scuito was also able to capitalize on a great start and the mistakes of others with his second-place finish after starting fourth. Joining De Silvestro and Scuito on the podium was Walker Racing's Kevin Lacroix.
"Simona drove a great race," Scruto said. "She was really consistent, so I knew I'd have to put really good laps together and just try to stay there and almost wait for a mistake. Once the restart came, I definitely thought there'd be a window, but she got a great restart and just drove a perfect race. I just had to do everything I could do to stay in second."
Canadian racer Lacroix was pleased with his finish: "I was careful not to lose any positions and not have a contact or something, and then I was lucky when Jonathan Bomarito went off in Turn 1.
"I was just following everybody. It was hard to pass, and Simona and Alan were pretty fast, so I was just trying to follow them and keep my position ahead of Jonathan Summerton," added Lacroix. "It was really good. I have to thank Walker Racing. The car was perfect for the race. Thank you also to Uni-Select, and Wayne Deans, Deans Knight. Thank you to everybody. It was a great weekend."
Also recording strong finishes in the race were rookie Jonathan Summerton in fourth place, followed by Bomarito, Daniel Morad, Markus Niemela, Junior Strous, Andreas Wirth, and James Hinchcliffe to complete the top 10.
There may be particular attention paid to De Silvestro's maiden victory, but it should be remembered that she spent last year with Derrick Walker, learning all she could from the racing veteran. After signing this year with Newman Wachs Racing, she made a point at this first race to work very hard on her qualifying. Thus she was able to start second in a very competitive field, and was able to make a very difficult task look much easier than it actually was.