KATHERINE LEGGE WINS IN EDMONTON FOR SECOND TOYOTA ATLANTIC SERIES VICTORY EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 17, 2005) -- British rookie racing sensation Katherine Legge ( ...
KATHERINE LEGGE WINS IN EDMONTON FOR SECOND TOYOTA ATLANTIC SERIES VICTORY
EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 17, 2005) -- British rookie racing sensation Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) overcame a tumultuous start, made a daring pass for the lead midway through the race and held off the series point leader in the thrilling final lap Sunday en route to her second career victory in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.
Legge, who became the first woman to win a major open-wheel event in North American when she captured the checkered flag in her first series start at Long Beach in April, enjoyed her best starting position of the season when she lined up third today in the Napa Auto Parts Presents the Toyota Atlantic Challenge of Edmonton (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. ET).
Heading into the first turn at Edmonton's Finning International Speedway road circuit after taking the green flag, Legge entered the corner quickly and made contact with polesitter Charles Zwolsman (#11 Landtran Systems/Boychuk Transport) and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil), who started third, entering the turn. No cars suffered any damage in the opening-lap dustup and Legge reaped the benefits, moving from third to second as Kasemets dropped back to fourth as a result of the incident.
After taking stock to make sure her car was in good shape, Legge set her sights on Zwolsman, the series championship leader. The 24-year-old native of Northampton, England began to close on Zwolsman, making several attempts to pass the Dutch driver in the first few turns around the 1.973-mile road course, constructed on Edmonton's City Centre Airport. Zwolsman was able to shut the door on Legge each time, but the talented Polestar Racing Group driver sensed her opportunity when the leader encountered lapped traffic.
On the 18th of 32 laps, Zwolsman slowed just slightly entering Turn 12 as he made his way around a slower car. That gave Legge the daylight she needed to seize control of the race. She passed Zwolsman and began to open up a lead of her own.
There were a few anxious moments for Legge late in the race as she pursued her second Atlantic win. The cars of Daryl Leiske (#63 Speedway Motors) and Bob Siska (#18 RJS Motorsports) made contact on the 24th lap, bringing out a yellow caution flag. On the ensuing green flag restart, Legge put the hammer down and pulled away from Zwolsman, but the top series rookie wasn't about to go away. He continued to find more speed as the race wore on and he made it very interesting in the final lap of the race, applying heavy pressure to the leader. Legge was strong all the way to finish line however, winning by just .220 of a second over Zwolsman in front of a packed house of Canadian race fans.
For the fourth consecutive race, Toyota Atlantic rookie Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) came home in third place. Wirth, the 2004 Formula BMW USA Champion, also enjoyed a strong start to Sunday's race, moving from fifth to third in the opening lap. Riding the wave of his early-race success, Wirth produced his sixth consecutive podium finish, the most by an Atlantic driver since former series champion Hoover Orsi produced eight straight top-three results on his way to the 2001 series crown.
After scoring his first Atlantic win one week ago in front of his home country fans at the Molson Indy Toronto, St. Bruno, Quebec native Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) brought home a fourth-place finish for the Polestar team on Sunday. Bessette has now earned top-five results in seven of eight events in his rookie season.
Recovering from his troubles at the start of the race, Kasemets took the checkered flag in fifth place. The Estonian-born racer now has six top-five finishes to his credit this season.
Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) of Brooks Associates Racing turned in his sixth top-10 finish since joining the series full time in Round 3. The Albuquerque, New Mexico racer finished sixth in today's running order. After producing his top career finish of fifth place last week in Toronto, Eric Jensen (#2 Konica Minolta) had another strong finish in his home country. The Montreal resident crossed the stripe seventh for Jensen Motorsports. Mexico's David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) struggled to even make the green flag as his team needed to change engines on his car after the morning warmup session. Martinez rallied from the back of the field to finish eighth.
Producing his fifth win of the season in the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup championship, Justin Sofio (#15 RLM Investments) finished ninth overall, while Sofio's chief rival in the C2 class, Dan Cobb (#9 Camelot Construction), completed the top 10.
A tight Atlantic championship points race became even tighter with today's results. Zwolsman remains on the point in the hunt for the title with 216 points through eight rounds of competition. Kasemets now trails Zwolsman by 15 points while Bessette is third in the chase, 24 points behind the leader. Wirth ranks fourth, just 35 points out of first while Legge sits fifth in the standings, 40 markers in back of Zwolsman.
Round 9 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship will be contested on the streets of San Jose, June 29-31 at the San Jose Grand Prix. For more information log on to www.toyotaatlantic.com .
ATLANTIC RACE NOTES
Zwolsman earned a bonus point for turning the fastest lap of today's race He posted a new course record race lap of 1:07.828 (104.720 mph) on Lap 9..
British Columbia native Daryl Leiski owned the fastest C2 race lap of 1:12.093.
Sunday's race was completed in 39:53.701, establishing a new race record at Finning International Speedway.
Quotes from the top three finishers in today's race follow:
KATHERINE LEGGE (#12 PKV Racing -- Polestar Racing Group): "First of all, I would like to thank the fans in Edmonton and the West Edmonton Mall for their fantastic job. It was the first time they had put such a big racing event together and they did an incredible job. (On the race) It was a quite messy start. I started to break on a bump and I locked the wheels. I am sorry, Charles, about that. We were fortunate to make it through Turn 1. And then we started to pull away and we could start fighting for first place. Charles was faster in Turns 1 and 3, where I thought my best chances were. So, I was stuck behind and Charles was running an intelligent race. Then he got slowed down by back markers, and I saw a great opportunity and I passed him. (On her mental approach after struggling in recent weeks) It all goes back to Monterrey, Mexico. From that moment, I put too much pressure on myself. After the first round of qualifying, I was a bit depressed because I felt I should be up front. But then, Kevin Kalkhoven had a chat with me and he gave me a good piece of advice - 'have fun'. Now I am trying not to get too frustrated and have more fun on the racetrack. (On moving up to Champ Car) I think that I'm not ready yet. It is going to take me one more year in Atlantic because I still need build up more experience. When I move up, I want to be up front. I don't want to be in the back."
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (#11 Landtran Systems/Boychuck Transport - Condor Motorsports): (On the start) "I don't know who it was, but somebody hit me (laughing and looking at Legge). It was a tough race. Legge was very quick and she was ready to take advantage of any mistake I might make. When I got stuck behind back markers, I miscalculated the situation, and Katherine made a great move and passed me. I don't know where I found the speed but I am glad I had the fastest lap. I was close to take the lead back in the last lap. Katherine did a really good job today and I want to congratulate her."
ANDREAS WIRTH (#8 Wurges Windows & Doors -- Brooks Associates Racing): "The start was really good, especially because the other guys in front of me had contact. It was great race. I did not have good tires because of mistakes I made earlier this weekend, so it was hard for me to be very quick during the race. It was even harder at the end because the tires were worn out."