Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge and Michael Valiante, both Canadians from Vancouver, B.C., will team up for next weekend's Air Canada Grand Prix of Montreal in an effort to repeat - and expand on - Rutledge's victory in this event last...
Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge and Michael Valiante, both Canadians from Vancouver, B.C., will team up for next weekend's Air Canada Grand Prix of Montreal in an effort to repeat - and expand on - Rutledge's victory in this event last year.
Rutledge, 22, scored the first win of his Atlantic career - from the pole - at Montreal last year, and opened his 2001 championship campaign with another victory - again from the pole - in the season-opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Valiante, an international karting champion who attracted the attention of Lynx Racing with his sparkling drives in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, finished fourth in his first-ever Atlantic race, through the streets of Long Beach.
"Winning Montreal last year was a pivotal point in my career because although I'd run near the front in Atlantic before, this was the first real proof that I could win at this level," says Rutledge, who drives the turquoise with yellow trim #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a. "It gave the team more confidence in me, and gave me more confidence in myself. With two Canadian drivers on the team, all of Canada will be looking over our shoulders, so the pressure to perform is very high. But Michael and I work together very well which will enhance the overall performance of the team. This is my year to show teams in CART and F1 that I'm ready to move up, and following up my victory from the pole in the first race of the season at Long Beach with a repeat win here would be a big step in the right direction."
Valiante, 21, is an international karting champion and moved up the Barber Dodge Pro Series with the help of two Skip Barber scholarships he won in competition against some of the fastest young drivers in the world. With sponsorship from Italian Motors and Copart Auto Auctions, he will compete in six rounds of the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic series, including all four Canadian races. He finished fourth in his first-ever Atlantic race, through the streets of Long Beach, and will make his second start at Montreal.
"It's just awesome for me to have a chance to race in front of the F1 teams because that's my ultimate goal," says Valiante. "This is the biggest race in Canada, I've never raced here before and this is only my second Atlantic race, so it feels a bit like I'm standing at the center of the stage under a very bright spotlight. But Lynx is one of the best teams in the Atlantic series and has either won or finished on the podium many times here, and with David and me working together I feel comfortable about my ability to have a good race." Rutledge drives the #19 (turquoise with yellow trim) Lynx Racing Swift 008.a while Valiante competes in the #95 (black with yellow trim) Lynx Racing / Italian Motors / Copart Auto Auctions Swift 008.a.
Lynx Racing has won this event with another Canadian, Patrick Carpentier - now driving for Player's/Forsythe in the CART FedEx Championship - in 1996. It was an all-Lynx front row with Carpentier's teammate Jeret Schroeder (who made his third Indy 500 start on Labor Day) qualified second, and the duo finished 1 - 2. The team's record at Montreal also includes a win with Richie Hearn in 1994, a 2 - 3 finish with Lynx teammates Alex Barron and Memo Gidley in 1997 and third-place finishes with Buddy Rice in 1998 and 1999. Gidley and Barron are CART's new 'super-sub' duo, while Rice has signed to drive with Jaguar F1 manager Bobby Rahal's CART team in 2002.
The 27-lap Atlantic race around the 2.746-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is scheduled to start at 2:30 pm on Saturday, June 9. The race will be televised live on RDS.
2001 marks the 11th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx is both a championship-winning racing team and a uniquely successful driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental, psychological and spiritual growth in addition to their on-track skills.