Montreal Lynx race notes

LAST HURRAH FOR THE RALT ASSAULT Montreal, Quebec (June 6, 1998) -- Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice's hard-fought third-place finish in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Grand Prix Player's du Canada marked the end of an...

LAST HURRAH FOR THE RALT ASSAULT

Montreal, Quebec (June 6, 1998) -- Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice's hard-fought third-place finish in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Grand Prix Player's du Canada marked the end of an era with the first-ever defeat of the venerable Ralt RT-41, still in use by Lynx and most of the top teams, by a pair of new Swift 008.a spec cars in the hands of Player's drivers Lee Bentham and Alexandre Tagliani, who finished 1-2. Despite weight and aerodynamic penalties designed to slow the still-dominant Ralts, Lynx Racing's remarkable rookie, Buddy Rice, contrived a breathtaking opening move and managed to make it exciting nonetheless. Though never having done an Atlantic standing start on a dry circuit, Rice, from his 3rd-place qualifying spot, executed a picture-perfect drag race in his four year-old Ralt that vaulted him past the all-Player's front row to lead the field into the first turn. Rice led the first lap before being overtaken by Player's driver Alexandre Tagliani in a battle that saw them swap the lead several times. Rice led the race on three different occasions before the Player's teammates were able to get past and start working together. "Once Tagliani and Bentham got together and started drafting each other, I was history," said Rice. "Our strategy from the start was to try and keep them separated to prevent that from happening, but Memo lost his gearbox on the third lap and once I was alone out there, there was nothing I could do but hang on in third and go for the points." The Player's drivers commenced to battle between themselves resulting in a race that featured 10 lead changes between three drivers. Player's driver Lee Bentham passed Tagliani toward the end of the last lap for a 1-2 finish to what the track announcer correctly called "... the most exciting Atlantic race since Jacques Villeneuve and David Empringham battled it out wheel to wheel in 1993." "Lee and Alex and Buddy all drove a tremendous race and my only regret is that I had to watch it from the sidelines," said Rice's Lynx Racing teammate Memo Gidley. "I'd qualified sixth and in the two laps I ran before the gearbox broke I knew my car was good enough to move up and battle with the leaders. The team worked out a strategy for Buddy and I that would have given us a chance to win the race, but the transmission gremlins that sidelined Buddy in practice on Friday seem to have transferred themselves to my car sometime during the night. Its a shame because this is probably the last race a Ralt will ever have a chance to win, and after all their years of great racing, it would have been nice to send them off in a burst of glory." Despite not having the 'one for the road' scenario work out quite the way the romantics on the team envisioned, Lynx Racing did manage to win the first four races of the season (Gidley at Long Beach, St. Louis and Milwaukee, and Rice a Nazareth). And, even with a DNF for Gidley and third place for Rice in Montreal, Lynx still leads the championship points battle with 74 for Gidley, 70 for Andrew Bordin, 58 for Bentham and 56 for Rice. In the four-week break between Montreal and the next event on the schedule, the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland on July 11, Lynx Racing faces the formidable task of changing over from campaigning one kind of car to another. This involves conducting an intensive testing program on the single Swift 008.a already in its possession simultaneously with taking delivery of a second Swift, assembling it, and testing that car as well. "This was a choice we faced at the start of the year, and we chose to go with the older Ralts because our testing of the new car showed that not only were they slower, but there were also reliability and safety issues we felt needed to be addressed," says Lynx Racing Team Manager Steve Cameron. "And since we won the first four races, I guess we made the right decision. But the message of Montreal is clear; CART, Swift and the Atlantic series management have listened to our concerns and worked diligently to make sure that, from here on out, you have to run a Swift in order to be competitive. So that's what we’ll do." The race will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN International on Saturday, June 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. In Canada, the race will air on CTV the same day from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. All times are Eastern. Lynx Racing, now entering its ninth year of operation, is a uniquely successful driver development team owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. The team is dedicated to seeking out young drivers with championship potential and helping them make the jump to the top levels of the sport. In addition to Gidley and Rice in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, Lynx Racing also campaigns an 18-year old karting champion from Kennewick, Washington named Sara Senske. She runs in the ultra-competitive Star Formula Mazda Championship driving a car fielded by S3 Racing. For further information, please visit the team's web site at www.LynxRacing.com.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Memo Gidley , David Empringham , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Steve Cameron , Lee Bentham