Toronto (July 6th, 2002) - It was a great day for Canada in the Formula Atlantic Series race at the Molson Indy Toronto, as Canadians Michael Valiante and Jonathan Macri scored a 1-2 finish. Rocky Moran Jr. was third while Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex...
Toronto (July 6th, 2002) - It was a great day for Canada in the Formula Atlantic Series race at the Molson Indy Toronto, as Canadians Michael Valiante and Jonathan Macri scored a 1-2 finish. Rocky Moran Jr. was third while Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex Gurney and Buddy Rice rounded out the top 6.
The early laps were chaotic, as accidents at corners one and three brought out 3 full course yellows in the first 9 laps. Roger Yasukawa spun at corner one on lap one, bringing out the first full course yellow -- his race was over. Pole-sitter and championship leader Jon Fogarty had held onto his lead through this lap, and kept his lead when the race restarted on lap 3.
This restart lasted no longer as Waldemar Coronas flew over top of Sepp Koster at the first corner in a nasty looking accident. Both drivers were thankfully unhurt. Before the yellow flags came out for this accident, Michael Valiante had passed one car at the restart to move up to third position.
The next restart, to begin lap 6, would be the most dramatic, and essentially where the race was decided. Fogarty, still leading, went into corner one very wide, which allowed Alex Gurney to dive up his inside, and Valiante to dive up Gurney's inside. Three cars going side-by-side into corner one -- exciting, but something was surely to go wrong. Gurney and Fogarty touched. They both continued unharmed, but it moved them down the running order a little ways. Valiante had grabbed the lead he would not relinquish.
"I was able to make great restarts," said Valiante. "I was right behind Alex Gurney and knew if I had a good restart I could get down his inside. I waited and waited and finally he popped out to allow me down the inside. I noticed Fogarty braked a little early, so I thought I might as well go past him too!"
Fogarty's race would only last two more corners. Luis Diaz was chasing Fogarty hard into corner three. Fogarty moved over in front of Diaz, who hit and flew over top of Fogarty and into the wall. That marked the end of Diaz's and Fogarty's day. Exit the pole-sitter and championship leader. The incident also brought out our third and last full-course yellow of the race.
Behind Valiante at this point was Moran Jr., up from 9th position, Macri, Gurney and Ryan Hunter-Reay in 5th. On the restart we finally had a clean corner one and three, where Macri held off Gurney, but Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to pop by Gurney for 4th in the aftermath.
The race was fairly processional after this point, with only a few challenges. The battle for 5th was joined by Scottish driver Ryan Dalziel and Buddy Rice. On lap 20 Rice and Dalziel touched. At first it looked like they both survived, but on lap 29 Dalziel pitted and then retired with mechanical difficulties.
The race ended with some excitement when Macri took Moran Jr. for second on the last lap. Macri admitted he was a bit lucky to escape some of the opening chaos. "I had to be careful. I could easily have been collected in some of the incidents. I am kind of tired of finishing second," laughed Macri. "The car is working well but it would nice to be on the top of the podium." Macri now sits seventh in the championship with 63 points.
So Valiante won ahead of Macri, Moran Jr., and Hunter-Reay, with Gurney 5th and Buddy Rice 6th.
With Fogarty, who lead the championship coming into Toronto, Yasukawa, who sat third, and Diaz who was fourth, all dropping out of the race, Valiante, who came into the race in second, gained a lot of ground on all his nearest championship rivals. He now lead the championship by 19 points over Fogarty with 94 points to Fogarty's 75. Moran Jr., with his third place finish jumped 3 places in the championship from 6th to 3rd with 73 points. Hunter-Reay moved up to 4th with 71, and non-finishers Yasukawa and Gurney fell to 5th and 6th with their 67 points each.