Atlantic Championship Battle Moves North of the Border to Grand-Prix de Trois-Rivieres BROWNSBURG, Ind. (August 13, 2009) - After eight rounds of the 12-race 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda - all of which...
Atlantic Championship Battle Moves North of the Border to Grand-Prix de Trois-Rivieres
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (August 13, 2009) - After eight rounds of the 12-race 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda - all of which were contested in the U.S. - the series now moves north of the border for a pair of races beginning with this weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
The annual street race in Quebec has long been one of the most prestigious events on the Atlantic calendar. One driver looking to add to the prestige by becoming the first woman to win at Trois-Rivieres is current series points leader Simona De Silvestro, who drives the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds.
De Silvestro has won three times thus far in 2009 and is the winningest woman in series history with a total of four Atlantic victories. She has finished on the podium in seven consecutive races dating to her victory in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park and brings a 16-point lead, 135-119 over John Edwards, with her into Canada.
Driving the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy entry for Newman Wachs Racing, the 18-year-old Edwards heads to Trois-Rivieres looking to put a disappointing race at Mid-Ohio last weekend behind him. His three wins on the season ties him with De Silvestro for the series lead, and he clearly rates among the favorites this weekend.
The same can be said for his Newman Wachs Racing teammate Jonathan Summerton in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine. The 21-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla. picked up his second victory of the season last weekend at Mid-Ohio and remains a key player in the championship fight. He currently trails Edwards by six points and De Silvestro by 22, but he nearly won the 2008 Atlantic title with a late-season surge and is poised to make another run.
The three drivers at the top of the points chart have separated themselves somewhat from the rest of their competition, but the race for Rookie of the Year honors is beginning to heat up as well. Leading the way, as he has throughout the 2009 season, is Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch in the No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki entry from Genoa Racing. Vervisch has finished on the podium three times this season and owns six top-five results.
However, Spanish rookie Borja Garcia has closed in a bit on Vervisch and is now 16 points behind the Belgian, 94-78. Garcia claimed his third podium result of the season with a third-place performance last weekend at Mid-Ohio in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us car for Condor Motorsports. Vervisch and Garcia occupy fourth and fifth, respectively, in the overall championship standings.
Another one to watch this weekend will be Atlantic veteran Tonis Kasemets in the No. 35 Fatburner ride from Polestar Motor Racing. The Estonian racer took his first podium of the season with a third-place run two races ago at Autobahn Country Club and has four top-five results this season.
Defending series champion Markus Niemela could also be a top contender this weekend. Driving for Jensen MotorSport and Canadian team owner Eric Jensen, Niemela matched his best result of the season last weekend with a fourth-place run for his best performance since joining the team just prior to Round 5 at Lime Rock Park last month. He drives the No. 1 Ville de Trois-Rivieres/Jensen MotorSport entry.
Making his second appearance on the streets of Trois-Rivieres this weekend is actor-turned-racer Frankie Muniz in the No. 77 No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies ride for Team Stargate Worlds. Muniz matched his career-best qualifying result with a seventh-place starting spot last weekend at Mid-Ohio and owns a best result of fourth this season in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park.
British rookie James Winslow is back in the No. 19 C.A.R.S./E.T.T./D.H.S. machine for Genoa Racing this weekend. Last time out at Mid-Ohio, Winslow earned his second "Hard Charger" bonus for improving the most positions from start to finish in the race, improving from ninth at the start to an Atlantic career-best result of sixth.
Frenchman Max Lefevre will pilot the No. 7 DOTMOBIL machine for Condor Motorsports. He matched his career-best Atlantic result of seventh last weekend at Mid-Ohio and looks to build on that in Trois-Rivieres. Lefevre is currently 10th in the championship standings.
All Atlantic racecars this weekend will utilize Swift 016.a Atlantic chassis powered by 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth MZR engines capable of speeds in excess of 175 mph. Each entry will ride on Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires throughout the weekend.
The weekend schedule for the Atlantic Championship gets underway with a pair of practice sessions on Friday, the first from 11:10 to 11:50 a.m. ET and the second running from 4:55 to 5:25 p.m. Saturday's schedule features another practice session from 9:40 to 10:20 a.m. and qualifying from 4:05 to 4:35 p.m. Sunday's 50-minute race rolls off from a standing start at 1:30 p.m.
Live Timing & Scoring data, news and photos from throughout the weekend are available on the official website of the Atlantic Championship at www.atlantic-championship.com. Updates will also be available throughout the weekend via the series' official YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/AtlanticRacingSeries, the Atlantic Championship Facebook page(www.facebook.com/pages/Brownsburg-IN/Cooper-Tires-Presents-The-Atlantic Championship-Powered-by-Mazda/90562133620?ref=mf) and Twitter (twitter.com/atlanticracing).
COOPER TIRES PRESENTS THE ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK
* Great White North: The Atlantic Championship, which has strong ties to Canada dating all the way back to the series' inception in 1974, will spend its next two weekends north of the border beginning with this weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Following the weekend, the series moves west to Mosport International Raceway on the weekend of August 30.
* Everybody Gets A Mulligan: The 2009 Atlantic Championship features a new wrinkle in the way the championship will be decided, as all drivers will earn points from their best 11 finishes in the 12-race season.
* On The Road Again: The 12-race 2009 Atlantic Championship schedule brings the series to many of North America's most revered road racing circuits. The series shares seven race weekends with the American Le Mans Series at Sebring International Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Atlantic series is the "headline" attraction in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and in doubleheader weekends at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club in suburban Chicago.
* Local Favorites: This weekend's field includes no Canadian drivers but one Canadian team in Jensen MotorSport. The team, which was based for several years in nearby Montreal, is owned by Eric Jensen of Newmarket, Ontario. Defending series champion Markus Niemela, of Finland, is driving the No. 1 Ville de Trois-Rivieres/Jensen MotorSport machine this weekend.
* International Flair: This weekend's race will feature drivers representing eight different countries. The United States is best represented with a total of three drivers with one each from Finland, Spain, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Switzerland.
* Rookies at Trois-Rivieres: This weekend's field will include four Atlantic Championship rookies. The first-timers are Borja Garcia (No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us), Max Lefevre (No. 7 DOTMOBIL), Frederic Vervisch (No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki) and James Winslow (No. 19 C.A.R.S./E.T.T./D.H.S.).