Wirth's Championship Dream Dashed in Montreal Montreal, Quebec -- August 29, 2006 -- Acutely aware that the pressure was on to out-shine his competitors this weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve, Andreas Wirth was determined to keep his...
Wirth's Championship Dream Dashed in Montreal
Montreal, Quebec -- August 29, 2006 -- Acutely aware that the pressure was on to out-shine his competitors this weekend at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve, Andreas Wirth was determined to keep his spirits high. Despite having experienced a string of poor results, and believing that he'd used up all of his luck in the first half of the season, Wirth arrived in Montreal ready to give it his all. In spite of his best efforts, Wirth was left helpless as his Championship dreams slipped away.
As the Champ Car Atlantic competitors took to the circuit this weekend for the penultimate round of competition, Wirth was feeling the heat of competition and was desperate for some outstanding results. Unfortunately for Andreas, the first round of qualifying didn't provide him the opportunity to take Provisional Pole and earn any additional, and all-important, championship points. After producing a ninth place provisional qualifying effort, Wirth had this to say, "I'm really disappointed. I felt we had a great car today, and I was really thinking we might be able to get Pole, but the gearbox started giving me trouble and I couldn't downshift on the first try, which put me off-balance turning into the corners. It's really frustrating because I need all the points I can get, and I want to be up front for the start, but I know my guys will fix the problem and we'll get Pole tomorrow!"
Having every confidence in the labours and talents of the #37 Forsythe Racing Crew, Andreas felt certain that his mechanical woes were over for the weekend, and that final qualifying would produce Pole Position. Sadly though, Wirth encountered more trouble and he was unable to better his ninth place starting position on the grid. "Today we were struggling with under-steer in Turn 10, and the gearbox problem from Friday still wasn't completely resolved," explained Wirth. "My times were pretty good everywhere else on the track, but I just couldn't put a decent lap together because of 10. It's a very long corner, and I just couldn't find the grip I needed. I had to wait and wait for the front end to find some grip. I can't tell you how frustrating it is -- I really need the points this weekend, so I was hoping for much better results in qualifying." Sounding a little more optimistic about what the race would bring, Wirth concluded, "I hear that rain is in the forecast for tomorrow though, so that will probably mix things up a bit for the field. I've got quite a bit of experience in the wet, so hopefully that will give me the edge I need."
As the Champ Car Atlantic competitors suited up and found their positions on the starting grid, light drizzle turned to steady rain Sunday morning, and as conditions deteriorated, race officials quickly decided to abandon the notion of a standing start for the Montreal event. After just two laps, the race was red flagged out of concern for the driver's safety. Poor track conditions with standing water and almost non-existent visibility made the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve un-drivable for not only the lighter and less powerful Atlantic cars, but also for the Champ Car World Series drivers who saw the red flag fly after just six laps of their race.
Long rain delays kept drivers, teams and fans alike waiting on the edge of their seats until late in the day when finally it was decided that the skies and track would not have time to clear before darkness set in. Wishing to leave Montreal only after local fans were given the show they deserved, the Champ Car World Series and Champ Car Atlantic Series races were rescheduled to run Monday morning.
While some drivers hoped for the skies to clear and the track to dry, Andreas Wirth was unconcerned by the damp conditions, still holding out hope that his experience and perhaps some bad luck for his competitors would vault him to a more competitive position in the field. Unfortunately though, no weather conditions could remedy Andreas' problems, and he was left with a disappointing twelfth place finish. Andreas explained, "The car had a misfire right from the start. It was so bad on the first lap that I thought I might have to pit so my guys could take a look at it. Fortunately it seemed to get a little better and I just had to hang on and try to keep my position." A disappointed Wirth continued, "It was really tough to drive with the engine sputtering. It made it really hard to get the car balanced through the turns, but in the end, at least we got the car home without pitting, and we managed to get a few points."
Despite the fact that Andreas Wirth's fight for the Atlantic Championship Title ended in Montreal, he remains determined to end the year on a high, and wants to finish the season with a strong third place result over all, and a solid lead over fourth. Rounding out his comments for the weekend, Wirth remarked, "The #37 Forsythe crew have done a fantastic job for me all year, and I can't thank them enough. My Engineer has been awesome, and I'm really proud to be running with such a great team. We never give up, and we're going into the last race at Road America ready to fight for the win! -- We intend to end this season the way we started!"
The Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal Atlantic Race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Sunday September 3 at 1pm ET and re-aired Wednesday September 6 at 2pm ET.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship of 2006 wraps up on September 24 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin at Road America.
-credit: Andreas Wirth Racing