Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge and Michael Valiante, both Canadians from Vancouver, B.C., have qualified 1 - 2 for tomorrow's Toyota Atlantic race at the Air Canada Grand Prix of Montrea. This is the first all-Lynx front row at...
Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge and Michael Valiante, both Canadians from Vancouver, B.C., have qualified 1 - 2 for tomorrow's Toyota Atlantic race at the Air Canada Grand Prix of Montrea. This is the first all-Lynx front row at Montreal since 1996 with teammates Patrick Carpentier and Jeret Schroeder. Rutledge's lap of 1:36.117 (102.887 mph / 165.576 kph) in his #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a set a new track record and is his second lap record pole of the season (including his from-the-pole victory in the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach).
"That was definitely one of my more exciting qualifying sessions, especially when my steering wheel broke about halfway through," said Rutledge. "Our crew chief got a speeding ticket going back to the truck to get the wheel off my spare car, but once we got that sorted out, the team gave me a great car. The good working relationship between Michael Valiante and myself is really obvious with this kind of result. We've been working really hard on our street course setups, and what we used here is basically just a development of our Long Beach setup. It's a great feeling for the moment, but we can't let it distract us from the moment-by-moment business of winning the race and then winning the championship."
Valiente held the pole until the last four minutes of the afternoon qualifying session with a lap of 1:36.697 (102.270 mph / 164.583 kph) in his #95 Lynx Racing / Italian Motors / Copart Auto Auctions Swift 008.a. This is only Valiante's second Atlantic race; he qualified fifth and finished fourth in his first race with the Lynx team at Long Beach. He has sponsorship to run six events in the 2001 season, including all four Canadian rounds (Montreal, Toronto, Trois Rivieres, Vancouver), and the season finale at Laguna Seca.
"This is very nearly the kind of result I expect from myself... just one position away," said Valiante. "I had a transmission failure halfway through qualifying, so I wasn't as familiar with the track as I would like to have been for qualifying, but the Lynx team gave me a car that was both fast and comfortable to drive, and the couple of adjustments we made during the session find-tuned it to the point where a front-row lap was a thrill, but not a surprise. David was a big help to me in getting up to speed so quickly and I'm looking forward to working with him and the team and continuing my Atlantic education."
Lynx Racing has won this event with another Canadian, Patrick Carpentier - now driving for Player's/Forsythe in the CART FedEx Championship - in 1996. It was an all-Lynx front row with Carpentier's teammate Jeret Schroeder (who made his third Indy 500 start on Labor Day) qualified second, and the duo finished 1 - 2. The team's record at Montreal also includes a win with Richie Hearn in 1994, a 2 - 3 finish with Lynx teammates Alex Barron and Memo Gidley in 1997 and third-place finishes with Buddy Rice in 1998 and 1999. Gidley and Barron are CART's new 'super-sub' duo, while Rice has signed to drive with Jaguar F1 manager Bobby Rahal's CART team in 2002.
The 27-lap Atlantic race around the 2.746-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is scheduled to start at 2:30 pm on Saturday, June 9. 2001 marks the 11th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx is both a championship-winning racing team and a uniquely successful driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental, psychological and spiritual growth in addition to their on-track skills.