CONDOR MOTORSPORTS RIDES ROLLERCOASTER WEEKEND IN LONG BEACH April 15, 2005 -- Long Beach 2005 brought a mix of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows to Condor Motorsports and its rookie driver Charles Zwolsman. It started ten days...
CONDOR MOTORSPORTS RIDES ROLLERCOASTER WEEKEND IN LONG BEACH
April 15, 2005 -- Long Beach 2005 brought a mix of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows to Condor Motorsports and its rookie driver Charles Zwolsman. It started ten days ago when the sixth-year Atlantic team and its driver were finally able to conclude a deal and secure enough funding to compete this season. With a car that last saw competition in 2002, the team had their work cut out for them as they tried to ensure that the #11 entry was in line with several series rule and competition changes put into place over the last two seasons.
The Condor team tested with Zwolsman at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix in the week prior to the season opener at Long Beach. With some miles under its belt, the team still had some bugs to work out during Friday practice on race weekend. Zwolsman finished the first qualifying run in seventh place in a session plagued by red flags. By the time Saturday's qualifying arrived, team and driver got the car sorted out. Their main concern was again enduring a session saturated with red flags. With that in mind, Zwolsman was set on trying to turn quick times early after new tires were installed on his car. He got the top spot and, as expected, another red flag was displayed. With about three minutes left in the session, Zwolsman pressed again and was able to better his own fastest lap. He further solidified the pole position he had already won.
On post qualifying tech inspection, however, it was discovered that the car was carrying tunnel fences that were perfectly legal the last time it ran in competition, but are not currently allowed under series rules. While Atlantic technical personnel admitted the unintentional infraction was due to a simple oversight, the team is ultimately responsible to comply with the rules, so Condor and Zwolsman were penalized with the loss of all timed laps and were forced to start the race from the back of the field. Condor Motorsports was confident that the infraction was not responsible for the quick times posted in qualifying.
After the bitter disappointment of losing their qualifying times, Zwolsman and team set out to prove that the technical violation was of no relevance to the performance of the car or driver. Starting from 19th position, Zwolsman passed cars one by one without major problems. Kyle Kelley proved a little hard to overtake despite the difference in speed between the two cars. In a forced move, Zwolsman overtook Kelley on the outside of Turn 1. From there he was consistently turning laps faster than the leaders. When a full-course yellow situation developed, the opportunity opened the door to close the distance to the front pack. A lap after the restart, on the approach to Turn 1, Zwolsman was able to pass Chris Dyson for fourth place. He later finished third to earn the last podium position.
Condor Motorsports and Charles Zwolsman are looking forward to the second round of Atlantic competition in Monterrey, Mexico next month. They feel that Long Beach was a good opportunity to evaluate the competitiveness of the driver-team combination. Their expectations are high and they are delighted that the new series guidelines are finally giving reasonable, modestly-budgeted teams a chance to compete for the Toyota Atlantic title.