MONTREAL, Qc. (June 8, 2001) -- Tomorrow's Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Montreal will be David Rutledge's (Lynx Racing Swift) to lose. The Vancouver driver set a blistering pace on the 2.747-mile Circuit ...
MONTREAL, Qc. (June 8, 2001) -- Tomorrow's Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Montreal will be David Rutledge's (Lynx Racing Swift) to lose. The Vancouver driver set a blistering pace on the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, breaking Alex Tagliani's two year old track record. Rutledge's lap of 1:36.117 seconds (102.887 mph) was over a half second faster than rookie teammate, Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing/Italian Motors/Diagem Swift), who helped Lynx racing complete the sweep of the front row.
"That was definitely one of my more exciting qualifying sessions," quoted the owner of the new track record. "The team gave me a great car, and the good working relationship between Michael Valiante and I is really obvious with this kind of result. We've been working really hard on our street course setups, and what we used here is basically just a development of our Long Beach setup. This is the first time since 1996 with Patrick Carpentier and Jeret Schroeder that there has been an all-Lynx front row at Montreal, and that season turned out pretty well for the team. It's a great feeling for the moment, but we can't let it distract us from the moment-by-moment business of winning the race and then winning the championship."
Rutledge's Lynx teammate was very pleased with his results as well. "This is very nearly the kind of result I expect from myself, just one position away." Valiante continued. "I had a transmission failure halfway through practice, so I wasn't as familiar with the track as I would like to have been for qualifying, but the Lynx team gave me a car that was both fast and comfortable to drive, and the couple of adjustments we made during the session find-tuned it to the point where a front-row lap was a thrill, but not a surprise. David was a big help to me in getting up to speed so quickly and I'm looking forward to working with him and the team and continuing my Atlantic education."
This is David Rutledge's third career Atlantic pole and second straight here at Montreal. Rutledge also won a pole earlier this season at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Along with his personal streak, Rutledge continues a run of poles by Canadian drivers here in Montreal. Today's pole will make seven in a row dating back to Patrick Carpentier in 1995. Another fact working in Rutledge's favor is that this race has been won from the pole five straight times. Valiante's time of 1:36.697 seconds (102.270 mph) was also under Tagliani's track record.
Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) was in control of the pole for most of the session until the final 10 minutes. From there, the Lynx teammates swapped the top spot among themselves until Rutledge finally ended up on top. Basso dropped to fifth by the end of the session with a time of 1:37.197 seconds (101.744 mph). This has to be considered a pretty good showing considering that the car was rebuilt just six days ago.
Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) qualified third with a time of 1:37.002 seconds (101.948 mph). Hand is the top qualifying, full time rookie for tomorrow's race. Valiante is only running half of the races this season. "We made some great progress today," quoted an enthusiastic Joey Hand. "Every time we came in and made some changes, the car kept improving. We know we're going in the right direction and with a bit more time, I think we could have caught up to David. It's great to be back on a road course where we'll be able to do some good racing. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with the track and, hopefully, we'll be up front when it counts the most tomorrow."
Current CART Toyota Atlantic points leader, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) turned in a steady run, qualifying fourth for tomorrow's race with a time of 1:37.178 seconds (101.764 mph). Orsi leads the Championship with a total of 53 points.
David Rutledge earned the bonus championship point for winning the pole, tying him for second place with Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) at 43 points, both 10 points behind Orsi.
Trois-Rivieres, Quebec's Stephan Roy (P-1 Racing/Playstation 2 Momo Swift) did not have the results he was looking for here this afternoon. "Very long session!!" said Roy. "We had a problem with the engine just like we did this morning. We tried to fix it by changing all the electronics on the car, the A.C.U. and the cables. We thought things might improve for this afternoon. It turns out, the set-up was even worse! I was on 6000 "Rev's" on the straight-away making it impossible for me to do anything good! The guys in the pit had no idea what was going on, so we decided to call it quits for the day and hope for the best tomorrow."
Another Quebec driver struggled as well this afternoon. Christophe Beauvais qualified 17th. "We had a great setup this morning and the car was running well. This afternoon, we had problems with overheating and shifting. We're going to take care of these problems, and then we should be fine for the race. This is a great track. It's a little hard on brakes and the gearbox, but it's a fun track to drive. I was hoping to start higher on the grid, but we'll just get out there and have some fun and try to do well tomorrow."
Milwaukee pole winner, Grant Ryley, (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) suffered from mechanical problems as well, retiring midway through the session. "We're very disappointed with the qualifying session," said Ryley. "This morning was all about getting up to speed and finding out that we didn't have good balance on the car. And in the qualifying session this afternoon, the balance still wasn't what we hoped it would be, and then, we had electrical problems. We missed about 40 minutes of the qualifying session parked over on the side by the hairpin. I don't think we could've done what David (Rutledge) did, but we definitely could have been in the top five today."
Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship gets underway tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Rutledge and Valiante will by trying to make it seven years in a row for Canadian drivers taking the checkered flag.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 4 race from Montreal on Saturday, June 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the East time zone, 7:00 p.m. in the Ontario and Pacific Zones, and 9:00 p.m. in the West zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Thursday, June 21, 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 22, 3:00 p.m., ONTARIO, Thursday, June 21, 4:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Thursday, June 21, 3:00 p.m., and WEST, Wednesday June 20, 4:00 p.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Wednesday, June 20, at 5:00 a.m. ET.