Canadian GP preview

Event- Round 4 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, as the weekend's opening event of the Air Canada Grand Prix. Saturday's race will mark the 21st time since...

Event- Round 4 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, as the weekend's opening event of the Air Canada Grand Prix. Saturday's race will mark the 21st time since 1978, the Atlantic series has competed in Montreal.

Race Series- The CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "Ladder System", and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART Champ car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.

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Atlantic Friday, June 8: Practice 9:15 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m. Schedule at Qualifying 2:45 p.m. -- 3:45 p.m. Montreal Saturday, June 9: RACE 2:30 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. (27 laps/74.16 miles)

</pre> The Atlantic Championship heads north of the border this weekend to run Round 4 in Preview - Montreal. The Atlantic series will compete in Montreal for the 21st time dating back to 1978 when Jeff Wood won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The 27-lap event will get underway at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday as part of the Air Canada Grand Prix.

David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) will be trying for a repeat performance at the site where he earned his first Atlantic win last year. Rutledge, who hails from Vancouver, Canada, will also try to preserve a streak dating back to 1995. For six straight years, a Canadian driver has won the Montreal race starting with David Empringham that year. Other Canadian drivers that added to the streak were: Patrick Carpentier, Bertrand Godin, Lee Bentham, Alex Tagliani, and David Rutledge who won in 2000.

Rutledge is coming off a successful race at Milwaukee where he placed third. "We picked up a big push that kept me from challenging for the lead, but after the way things went at Nazareth, a podium finish here feels like a victory," said Rutledge, who won the season opening race at Long Beach. Although he currently stands in third place, 11 points behind Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) in the Championship, he is in the thick of the hunt heading into a series of road course races.

Orsi achieved his first win of his Atlantic career after scoring runner-up finishes in the first two events of the season. Orsi finished 20th last year in this race and can't afford a performance like that one if he wants to leave Montreal with the points lead. As solid as Orsi has been, he only stands 10 points ahead of Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) in the battle of the championship, with Rutledge right him.

The Brazilian points leader quoted, "The championship is only in the beginning and there is still a long way to go, but after this great start, the whole team is really confident that we can achieve our goal."

Ave, who won at Nazareth, fought his ill-handling Miller Genuine Draft Swift the entire race at Milwaukee, finishing fourth, keeping Orsi within reach.

Two drivers that started the season off on the wrong foot turned their seasons around last weekend at Milwaukee. Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) set a new track record in route to his first career pole. Ryley went on to finish the race in second place behind Orsi while also setting a new track record for the fastest lap. T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift) earned his best ever career Atlantic finish placing fifth at Milwaukee. Both performances came on the heels of DNFs the first two races of the season.

Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) rallied after a Friday practice accident to finish sixth in Milwaukee. The Ontario driver took over the rookie points lead after Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) and Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) ran into problems early in the Milwaukee race. Macri leads the rookie chase with a total of 25 points, followed closely by Lavin (20), Ryley (19), and Hand (19).

In what could have been one of the longest weekends in their careers, Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) and the Michael Shank team pulled an all-nighter rebuilding a destroyed race car after Basso's Friday afternoon practice accident. The team worked all night trying to get the car ready for Saturday afternoon's race. With some help from Mother Nature, the race was delayed because of rain until Sunday morning allowing the team extra time to get the car ready, and some much needed rest. Basso started at the rear of the field and rallied to an eighth place finish, keeping his championship hopes alive.

Stephan C Roy (P-1 Racing/StereoPlus Playstation 2 Momo Swift) and Christophe Beauvais (BBGP Racing Swift) will be the hometown favorites as they return to Quebec for the first time this season.

The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will continue on their road course swing before running the final oval of the season in Chicago in late July. Round 5 will have the Atlantic series returning to the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio at the start of July. They will then move back to Canada to run the streets of Toronto in mid July.

Canadians will represent seven of the 21 drivers scheduled to compete at Montreal Drivers - including three drivers in the top 10 in Championship points. Canadian drivers entered are led by David Rutledge of Vancouver, B.C. (3rd in points), Jonathan Macri of Gormley, Ontario (4th), Stephan Roy of Trois Rivieres, Quebec (9th), Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. (11th), Christophe Beauvais of Montreal, Quebec, Eric Jensen of Toronto, Ontario, and Cam Binder of Calgary, Alberta.

Atlantic - The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced at Montreal 20 times, History at - dating back to the 1978 season.

The previous Atlantic winners at Montreal were: Jeff Wood (1978), Howdy Holmes (1979), Jacques Villeneuve (1980), Kevin Cogen (1981), Tim Coconie (1982), Roberto Moreno (1983), Scott Goodyear (1986, 1989), Scott Harrington (1988), Jocko Cunningham (1990), Jimmy Vasser (1991), Chris Smith (1992), Jacques Villeneuve (1993), Richie Hearn (1994), David Empringham (1995), Patrick Carpentier (1996), Bertrand Godin (1997), Lee Bentham (1998), Alexandre Tagliani (1999), and David Rutledge (2000).

Television - ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 4 race from Montreal Broadcasts - 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.

Next Race - The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues with Round 5 on Sunday, July 1, at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar, in Cleveland, Ohio.

-ATLANTIC

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Richie Hearn , Martin Basso , Tony Ave , Hoover Orsi , Michael Valiante , Grant Ryley , David Rutledge , Joey Hand , Christophe Beauvais , T.J. Bell , Jonathan Macri , Danny Sullivan , Gilles Villeneuve , David Empringham , Rodolfo Lavin , Scott Harrington , Eric Jensen , Howdy Holmes , Chris Smith , Bertrand Godin , Jeff Wood , Michael Shank , Stéphan Roy , Lee Bentham
Teams Michael Shank Racing