Toronto: Friday qualifying notes

ZWOLSMAN ONCE AGAIN PROVES HE'S A QUICK LEARNER AS HE LEADS FIRST ROUND OF TOYOTA ATLANTIC QUALIFYING IN TORONTO TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 8, 2005) -- Through the first half of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama ...

ZWOLSMAN ONCE AGAIN PROVES HE'S A QUICK LEARNER AS HE LEADS FIRST ROUND OF TOYOTA ATLANTIC QUALIFYING IN TORONTO

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 8, 2005) -- Through the first half of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama season, Dutch rookie Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) has proven to be a very quick study. That trend continued Friday as the 26-year-old racer began the second half of the year by leading the opening round of qualifying in his first experience competing at the Molson Indy in Toronto.

After biding his time in Friday morning's practice session at the tight, 1.755-mile street circuit, learning the proper driving line and finding the right balance in his car, Zwolsman posted fast lap after fast lap in the afternoon qualifying session. He wound up carding a quick time of 1:07.387 (93.757 mph) on his 22nd and final lap of the session.

Despite the fact that Zwolsman has not competed at any of the tracks on the '05 Atlantic circuit, the driver that's spent most of his career racing in Europe has demonstrated the unique ability to learn a course and master it quickly this season. He was able to call upon that skill again Friday, securing a front row starting spot for Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto Atlantic race (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, July 16 at 2 p.m. ET) by leading qualifying and securing a championship point for his efforts. Zwolsman now carries a 170-162 lead over rival Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) entering Saturday's final round of qualifying as the tight championship chase continues in Round 7 of 12 of the Atlantic series.

If it weren't for Zwolsman's unique ability to adapt and overcome, Friday would've belonged to Canadian Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design). The Polestar Racing Group driver looked dominant while leading the morning practice session and he gave Zwolsman a run in qualifying before settling for the second-fastest lap of the day at 1:07.607 (93.452 mph). The St. Bruno, Quebec native enters this weekend ranked third in the championship rundown and after finishing fourth in his two previous visits to Toronto in other racing series, he's hoping to improve his standing in the title chase with a strong performance on the Toronto streets.

Kasemets arrived in Toronto hoping to regain the series lead from Zwolsman and he got off to a solid start Friday by recording the third-quickest time of the day at 1:07.920 (93.021 mph). The native of Parnu, Estonia is also seeing his first series action in Toronto this weekend

Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) won the last street race on the Atlantic calendar when she became the first woman to produce a victory in a major open-wheel race in North America at Long Beach in April. Legge had a strong qualifying on the Toronto blacktop, despite making contact with the wall and damaging her car's suspension late in the session. The Northampton, England native posted a time of 1:07.944 (92.988 mph) to place fourth in provisional qualifying.

After starting off strong this morning, battling Bessette for the lead of the Atlantic practice session, Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) of Germany completed the top five from the opening-round of qualifying with a time of 1:08.243 (92.581 mph).

Finishing sixth in today's running order was Mexican racer David Martinez with a top lap of 1:08.750 (91.898 mph) while American Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/DeWalt Tools/Ramset Tools) recorded a time of 1:09.080 (91.459 mph) in seventh position. Slotting in eighth with a mark of 1:09.196 (91.306 mph) was Brooks Associates Racing's Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) while owner/driver Eric Jensen of Canada ranked ninth overall at 1:10.213 (89.983 mph).

Leading the C2 class contingent in Friday's qualifying was category point leader Justin Sofio (#15 RLM Investments). After carding a time of 1:10.881 (89.135 mph), good for 10th overall in the qualifying results, Sofio paced all five drivers competing this weekend in the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup.

Saturday will see the Toyota Atlantic cars return to the track at 8:30 a.m. ET for a 30-minute practice session. The final round of qualifying will be held from 12:30-1 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Sunday's race will take the green flag at 10 a.m. with the event scheduled for 35 laps or 50 minutes. Follow all of this weekend's action live from Toronto through the Timing link on the series' official website, www.toyotaatlantic.com

Following are the quotes from the top three qualifiers from today's qualifying session:

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (#11 Condor Motorsports):

"Every track is new for me so when I turn the first few laps, I have a lot to learn. But for qualifying I try to be there because that's when it really counts. For today's qualifying we did make a few changes but I am still not happy with the car. I guess this is the kind of track where you can never find the perfect balance because of all the concrete patches on the course. But I think that's what makes street races more exciting. (On earning a bonus point for his pole today) I think that every point counts because Kasemets and I are really close for the championship, so the point I earned today could make the difference at the end."

ANTOINE BESSETTE (#3 Unik Auto Design -- Polestar Racing):

"We had some problems after the first qualifying session because I did not like how the car handled the bumps. So we rolled the dice and we made a really big change. It turned out okay but we will have to make more changes for tomorrow. We are going to work on that tonight. I have a good feeling for the car so I think that we are going to be able to find more speed in the car and we will be in good shape for tomorrow. (On his success on this track) It is funny because most drivers don't like to drive between the walls and I actually do like that."

TONIS KASEMETS (#6 Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis):

"For a first day it was not bad at all. We worked to make a few changes on the car and now we think we know which way to go. So let's hope that we'll make the right call and if we do, we should run fastest times tomorrow. From this morning to this afternoon we did not make big changes on the car. I am still learning the track and I think it is all about finding the right balance. I hope that the changes we'll make will give the balance I like the car and the lap time should come."

-atlantic-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Katherine Legge , Eric Jensen , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Justin Sofio , Andreas Wirth , Dan Cobb , Al Unser