PLAYER'S TEAM PICKS UP PACE AS KOOL /TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP VISITS MONTREAL FOR FIRST ROUND OF PLAYER'S CHALLENGE MONTREAL, Que., June 5, 1998 - Even though Player's Forsythe teammates Lee Bentham and local hero Alexandre Tagliani...
PLAYER'S TEAM PICKS UP PACE AS KOOL /TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP VISITS MONTREAL FOR FIRST ROUND OF PLAYER'S CHALLENGE
MONTREAL, Que., June 5, 1998 - Even though Player's Forsythe teammates Lee Bentham and local hero Alexandre Tagliani are thrilled about their podium finishes last week in Milwaukee, Wis., the two Canadian drivers have quickly turned their attention to this weekend's important Player's Challenge at the Grand Prix Player's du Canada -- Round 5 of the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Bentham, of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished right behind points leader Memo Gidley in Milwaukee, while Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., started at the back of the 23-car grid and drove his way to a season-high third-place finish. Gidley, of Novato, Calif., picked up his third victory in four races, extending Lynx Racing's winning streak to four. Bentham believes the Player's team has finally bridged the gap with Lynx Racing with their success at Milwaukee, and is expecting nothing short of a victory on his native Canadian soil this Saturday. "Milwaukee was definitely a morale-booster, especially going into Canada. We're having our luck turn around, and we're shooting for the top two spots, nothing less, this weekend for Alex and me," said Bentham, who sits fourth in the championship behind Gidley, Andrew Bordin of Woodbridge, Ont., and Buddy Rice of Phoenix, Ariz. "If we get a little bit of luck, which we've had little of so far, we'll be going for the championship."
The Montreal event is the first of four Canadian-based races that comprise the $70,000 Player's Challenge - a separate championship based on the Grand Prix Player's du Canada, the Molson Indy Toronto and Molson Indy Vancouver, and the traditional race in Trois-Rivieres, Que. Points earned at these events will count toward the Player's Challenge championship.
Gidley, however, believes his team's challenge will come not only from the Player's squad, but many other Atlantic teams. He pointed out that about 10 cars were in the hunt at Milwaukee. "There are a lot of teams that could've won at Milwaukee, and there are many that will be right there in Montreal," said Gidley. We're going to a road course that hopefully will be dry. We haven't seen many road courses yet, and certainly not dry ones. So you don't really know who's going be where. I think it'll be a good race, they way they run it. Montreal has lots of straights. You can be a couple of tenths slow and still get up front because of the drafts. It's also a track with chicanes and curbs, and it rewards those drivers who are precise. It's a driver's track."
Round Five of the 13-race KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, scheduled for 27 laps/75 miles, will get underway at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, with qualifying on Friday at 2:15 p.m. on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
Saturday's Player's Challenge for the KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship will be broadcast the following Saturday, June 13, on ESPN2 and ESPN International at 5:30 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on ESPN2 on July 2, July 3 and July 5. CTV will broadcast the race in Canada on Saturday, June 13, at 4 p.m. All times are Eastern. Round 6 of the 1998 KOOL /Toyota Atlantic Championship will continue July 11, at the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland.