The Quiet Canadian Is Making Noise In The Toyota Atlantic Championship Confident Bessette Heading to Toronto Indy Molson Indy, Toronto, July 4. -- Halfway into the season, Antoine Bessette is more than ever in the title chase for the 2005 Toyota...
The Quiet Canadian Is Making Noise In The Toyota Atlantic Championship
Confident Bessette Heading to Toronto Indy
Molson Indy, Toronto, July 4. -- Halfway into the season, Antoine Bessette is more than ever in the title chase for the 2005 Toyota Formula Atlantic championship after a string of top-five results and two podiums. The 23-year-old rookie driver wants to focus on his driving and trying to improve his skills in the #3 Unik Auto Design car. He currently sits third in the series standings after six rounds of 12. He has, at times, looked like he could emerge as the top driver among a new breed of Atlantic road racing stars this season. He was also involved a few incidents that took valuable points away from him.
"I think we're still in good shape for winning the championship," Bessette said recently after completing back-to-back doubleheader weekends at Portland and Cleveland that left him trailing only series leader Charles Zwolsman and second-place driver Tonis Kasemets in the title chase. "With a little luck and getting the car a bit quicker and no mistakes, I think we can do it."
Bessette came out of the gates quickly in his first race for Polestar Racing Group. He led both rounds of qualifying at the season-opening race at Long Beach and paced the first 26 laps of the race before finishing a close second to teammate Katherine Legge. He returned to the podium this past weekend, finishing second behind Zwolsman in the second of two races at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport.
In between his two podium visits, however, Bessette knows he performed well but also had some missteps. He spun early in Round 2 before finishing fourth in Mexico. He went off course in the first Portland race then made contact with another car in the second race as he brought home two fifth-place finishes. If he hopes to realize his championship dreams this season, Bessette knows he has to eliminate errors from his race-day performances.
"No more of that," said Bessette. "I will not do that again this year."
The native of St. Bruno, Quebec, located just outside of Montreal, will be the focus of more and more fans and media over the next weeks. The fact is three of the series' final six races will be run in Canada and that he's the top Canadian driver in a circuit that's become known for producing some of the country's biggest names in racing.
Aside from the added pressure of competing in his home country, however, Bessette is looking forward to upcoming races in Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal. "They are all really important events for me," he said. "If I'm going to win a race this year, for sure I want it to be in Canada. But I will keep pushing as hard as I can in every race. I just want to win."
Bessette thinks his best shot might come this coming weekend - the annual Molson Indy at Toronto's Exhibition Place street circuit. He earned his best North American Formula Renault Series finish of fourth place last year at Toronto and he also finished fourth at the venue in 2003 in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. He likes competing on street circuits and it's no coincidence that his first and only Atlantic pole position to date came on the street course in Long Beach.
"I like racing in Toronto and I like being in between the walls, like in Long Beach," said Bessette. "The street is bumpy (in Toronto) and there are a couple of corners I really like there, like Turn 1. I don't know why, but I'm not scared of the walls. I just don't see them - and hopefully they don't see me."
Third in the standings
Bessette retains third place with 137 points behind Tonis Kasemets (162) and Charles Zwolsman (169). Polestar Racing Group heads north of the border to Toronto, Ontario for the Molson Indy, the first of three events in Canada.
Next round of the 32nd season of the Toyota Formula Atlantic will take place on July 8 to 10 at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto, a temporary 1,755-mile 11-turn temporary street course. Antoine Bessette will drive the Polestar Racing Group #3 UNIK Auto Design car.