Monterrey: Race notes

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN FIGHTS OFF TONIS KASEMETS IN MONTERREY, MEXICO FOR FIRST ATLANTIC SERIES VICTORY MONTERREY, MEXICO (May 22, 2005) - Victory certainly didn't come easily for Dutchman Charles Zwolsman ( ...

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN FIGHTS OFF TONIS KASEMETS IN MONTERREY, MEXICO FOR FIRST ATLANTIC SERIES VICTORY

MONTERREY, MEXICO (May 22, 2005) - Victory certainly didn't come easily for Dutchman Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) Sunday in Round 2 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, but the 25-year-old racer fought off numerous challenges, led all 32 laps (67.328 miles) and captured the checkered flag for his first series victory in only his second Atlantic start.

The rookie Zwolsman led the 13-car field to a clean green-flag start at the challenging 2.104-mile Fundidora Park road circuit and he faced pressure from Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil), who started second, from the outset. Kasemets, the only Atlantic non-rookie competing in Monterrey this weekend, tried several times to overtake the speedy Zwolsman only to be turned away. Even late in the race, when both Zwolsman and Kasemets had to fight through lapped traffic, the determined Dutch racer was able to find the speed to shut the door. He held on for a 1.232-second win over Kasemets, earning his maiden series victory in the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans Atlantic event (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, May 28 at 2 p.m. ET).

Kasemets, competing for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis, earned his top series finish and first podium result in his eighth career start in the 90-degree heat in Monterrey. The Estonian-born racer, who currently resides in Mundelein, Illinois, led Friday's qualifying session and made the most of his starting position and a fast race car.

While Zwolsman's victory was certainly impressive, perhaps the most dramatic story of the race belonged to local Mexican racer David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/Todito Card/Roca Acero/Madisa/Koviva/Aviacsa). After joining the US RaceTronics team just a couple of weeks ago, the 23-year-old Monterrey native saw his car roll of the truck in good shape as he immediately proved to be one of the quickest entries in the field. Martinez finished second in provisional qualifying on Friday, but he began to suffer the effects of a stomach virus and dehydration on Saturday. He still managed to qualify fifth and he had a tremendous race, moving up to fourth by the second lap and eventually finishing third for his first Atlantic podium finish. The talented, young driver had to be transported to the Champ Car Medical Center right after the race to get treatment for his illness, but the result certainly helped his spirits as he recovered Sunday evening.

Canadian rookie Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) recorded a fourth-place finish for Polestar Racing Group, earning his second top-five result of the season. His teammate, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing), also had an impressive drive to round out the top five finishers. Legge, who made history last month in Long Beach when she became the first woman to win a major open-wheel event in North America, came from eighth on the starting grid to earn a bonus point for the most improved positions in the race.

Zwolsman claimed the lead in the race for the series championship with his win, but Bessette and Legge remain in hot pursuit. Zwolsman now owns 60 championship points after two rounds of competition, while Bessette and Legge are tied for second place in the title rundown with 54 points each on the season.

First-year driver Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com/Pauline's Antiques/Toyota of Huntington Beach/T. Christy) posted his best series result in sixth place today while Mexican driver Memo Rojas (#10 Telmex) turned in a solid effort in front of his home country fans. Rojas earned a seventh-place result for Brooks Associates Racing in his Atlantic debut.

Winning the battle for the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup in Monterrey was Tom Nastasi (#23 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools), who finished 10th overall but led the C2 class contingent while also posting the fastest C2 lap in the race.

The Toyota Atlantic machines return to the track for a doubleheader race weekend with Rounds 3-4 of the Atlantic Championship June 18-19 at Portland International Raceway. For more information, visit the official series website - www.toyotaatlantic.com

ATLANTIC RACE NOTES

* Zwolsman earned a bonus point for posting the fastest lap of the race. He carded a top time of 1:26.620 on his 30th lap in today's event.

* Sunday's race was run without any caution flags and was completed in 46:43.327 - a new race record in Monterrey. Zwolsman's average winning speed of 86.462 mph also established a new Atlantic mark in Monterrey.

* Prior to today, the previous three Atlantic events held at Fundidora Park (2002-2004) were marred by incidents in the opening lap of the race. All three of the previous events featured either a full-course caution or one of the top competitors retiring due to contact with another car. All 13 cars today not only made it cleanly through the opening lap, but every entry but one (Adam Pecorari in the #2 Jensen Motorsport car) made it to the checkered flag.

Quotes from the top three finishers from Sunday's race, and Mexican driver Memo Rojas, follow:

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (Condor Motorsports): "It was a great battle. Tonis pushed me all the way through and it was a tough race. It was a lot of pressure to have him behind me. I had to try and anticipate every move he could make. Throughout the weekend the track was very slippery and we managed to make some small changes to get more grip. We had an excellent car."

TONIS KASEMETS (Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil - Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis): "We had a clean start since we had decided before the race to leave each other room. Charles ran an excellent race. The whole race we had an unbelievable battle, but unfortunately I could not make any move on him. I could have taken a chance when Charles had to slow down because of lapped cars but my goal today was to score points and not to take too much risk."

DAVID MARTINEZ (Roshfrans/Todito Card/Roca Acero/Madisa/Koviva/Aviacsa - US RaceTronics): "I'm pretty happy that everything turned out the way it did. In the end, they had to put me in an ambulance after the race (for treatment of stomach virus and dehydration) but I think the effort was well worth the result. The team worked so hard, I worked pretty hard too. We put the effort together and made it happen. I think this is what we needed for the people to see that we have the potential to fight for the championship. Now, we have to get ready for Portland. The front guys are strong, but I think we can be up front fighting with them."

MEMO ROJAS (Telmex - Brooks Associates Racing): "I'm very happy because of this opportunity of being here this weekend. Unfortunately, on lap 3 I had a contact and my front suspension was bent. From then on, I was about one second slower per lap and with a race that long, I lost so much ground. However, I feel delighted with all what I've learned this weekend, driving for the first time a car with a ground effect."

-atlantic-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Memo Rojas , Katherine Legge , Kyle Kelley , Adam Pecorari , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Dan Cobb