De Silvestro Becomes Second Woman to Win in Atlantic Championship Competition with Victory in Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2008) -- Less than 24 hours after Atlantic Championship...
De Silvestro Becomes Second Woman to Win in Atlantic Championship Competition with Victory in Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2008) -- Less than 24 hours after Atlantic Championship graduate Danica Patrick earned her first career Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory in Japan, second-year Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro became the second woman in the 34-year history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to win a race with her victory in the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach.
After starting from the front row for the first time in her Atlantic career, De Silvestro took the lead from polesitter Jonathan Bomarito on Lap 24 of what would be a 38-lap race when gearbox issues forced Bomarito into an off-course excursion in Turn 1 at the end of the Shoreline Drive straightaway. The race's only full-course caution period for debris set the stage for second-place running Alan Sciuto to challenge for the lead on the restart, but De Silvestro pulled confidently away at the drop of the green flag and went on to win by 1.285 seconds.
De Silvestro joins Katherine Legge as the only women to win races in Atlantic Championship competition. Legge owns a total of three Atlantic victories, the last of which came at San Jose on July 31, 2005. Legge also picked up her first career Atlantic win at Long Beach in 2005. In addition to it being De Silvestro's first victory, it was also the first Atlantic win for Newman Wachs Racing, which came into the series in 2006.
"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. Bomarito made a mistake, so I got that chance and I could pass him. 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. It's an awesome weekend because Danica won and I won. It's perfect. Congratulations to Danica as well."
Equaling his career-best Atlantic result was Sciuto with his second-place run in the No. 17 Deans Ultra Plug machine for Genoa Racing. It was an especially sweet result for the third-year Atlantic driver, as he makes his home in nearby Orange, Calif.
"Simona drove a great race," Sciuto 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 driver Kevin Lacroix rounded out the podium with a third-place performance aboard the No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco entry from Walker Racing. It was Lacroix's first podium result since he won in his second career Atlantic start in the second race of a doubleheader at Portland last June. Lacroix is beginning his first full season of Atlantic competition.
"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," Lacroix said. "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. 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."
De Silvestro's Newman Wachs Racing teammate, Jonathan Summerton came home fourth in the No. 36 Nuclear Clean Air Energy machine. Last weekend, Summerton became the first American driver to win an A1GP event when he emerged victorious in Shanghai, China.
After being dominant throughout the weekend, Bomarito was forced to settle for fifth place in the No. 26 RLM Investments/Discount Tire Centers/Stone Brewing car for Mathiasen Motorsports. Bomarito led from the standing start through Lap 23 before the gearbox problem reared its ugly head. Nevertheless, he managed to persevere and salvaged a top-five result in the season-opener.
Canadian rookie Daniel Morad (No. 70 Metro Directories of Georgia) came home sixth in his first Atlantic outing with the Eurointernational team, followed by Finnish rookie Markus Niemela (No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen) of Brooks Associates Racing in seventh. Dutchman Junior Strous (No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz) was eighth for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland, followed by German racer Andreas Wirth (No. 88 Wirsol Solar Energy/Sueba USA Development) in ninth, also for Brooks Associates Racing. Canadian James Hinchcliffe (No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack) completed the top 10 for Forsythe Petit Racing.
Next up for the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda is the Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 18.