MONTREAL, Qc., (June 9, 2001) â€“ David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) knew going into Saturdayâ€™s Round 4 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race, that if he made no mistakes, it was his race to lose. Rutledge indeed made no mistakes on his way...
MONTREAL, Qc., (June 9, 2001) – David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) knew going into Saturday’s Round 4 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race, that if he made no mistakes, it was his race to lose. Rutledge indeed made no mistakes on his way to his second straight victory at the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec.
Rutledge jumped in front going into the first turn and never relinquished the lead, despite being constantly hounded by his teammate, Michael Valiante, (Lynx Racing/Italian Motors/Copart Auto Auction Swift) who was competing in only his second Atlantic race. After shaking off an early battle from Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift), The Lynx Racing duo from Vancouver, BC, distanced themselves from the rest of the field and went on to finish just under 20 seconds ahead of the third place car of Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves).
“We were pretty much cruising the first half of the race, because we had a fair amount left after qualifying and we knew we could step up the pace any time we wanted,” said race champion, David Rutledge. “We did have to look after the brakes and transmissions, but we weren’t really worried about Joey Hand or any of the other people behind us being able to get by. We chose not to run ducting on the brakes for the aerodynamic advantage that created, and it worked out really well on this track with the long, high-speed straightaways. They tell me it was a historic win, that no other Atlantic driver has ever won back-to-back from the pole here, and it feels great. This is one of the greatest races in North America, with some of the best fans, and the energy they were giving me was a big help in the race.”
Rutledge’s win extended a streak to seven years straight in which Canadian drivers have won here in Montreal. The streak began with David Empringham’s win in 1995. This win was also the third of Rutledge’s career, all of them coming from the pole. Rutledge’s pole earned him his third career $1,000 “Toyota Pole Award” during Friday’s qualifying.
Valiante took over the lead in the Rookie of the Year chase with his runner-up finish. Valiante, 21, was pretty happy with his early results in the Atlantic Championship. “This being my second Atlantic race, my first time here, my first Atlantic start on a road course and my first Atlantic front row start – I didn’t know quite what to expect. The team gave me a great car and I just tried to stay as close to David as I could and cruise along to the end. We had the same setup on my car as Long Beach so I knew how it would behave in the corners, and then it was just a case of surviving the bashing that David and I took on the opening lap. I brushed the wall in turn 10 toward the end of the race and was lucky not to damage anything. I closed back up on David at the end and we were very happy to be able to give Lynx its first 1 – 2 at Montreal since Patrick Carpentier and Jeret Schroeder in 1996. I feel like I’ve been a part of history, and it feels great.”
The fastest race lap was turned by Valiante earning his first ever $1,000 WorldCom “Fast Pace” Award with a time of 1:36.484 seconds (102.496 mph).
Hand stayed with the Lynx Racing pair for the first part of the race and even appeared to have a car strong enough to contest for the win. Hand’s day ended though, six laps shy of the finish with a broken gearbox. "We were close,” said DSTP rookie, Joey Hand. “We had a car capable of winning today, but it would have been tough getting around Michael and David. Unfortunately, our gearbox made the decision for us. Just as I was getting ready to make a run on them, it stuck in fourth gear. I was able to make a few more laps until it just completely gave out. Up until then, we had a great run going. It would have been interesting to see how the race would have turned out. Once again, the DSTP crew gave me a fantastic car. It's been a great time in Montreal and I can't wait to come back and try it again."
Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) entered into Saturday’s race with a 10 point lead in Championship points, but found trouble on the second lap when his gearbox failed. Orsi finished 20th, dropping into a second place tie in points with Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) with a total of 53 points. Both drivers stand 11 points behind Rutledge who has 64 points.
Ave, Basso and Ave’s teammate, Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) battled for fourth place on the 18th lap, passing each other four times, before Basso and Macri continued the battle later in the race. With three laps to go, Macri passed Basso for third place, setting up what could have been an all Canadian podium. On the final lap, Basso pulled to the outside of Macri going into Turn 1. Macri drove into the corner too hard and spun the car into the gravel trap. Macri dropped to an 11th place finish while Basso took the final podium spot.
“Today was really a nice race,” said Argentina’s Martin Basso. “The team gave me a great car after the Milwaukee accident, where they worked hard during four days, two in Columbus and two in Montreal. The car was pretty good, but it had some little problems that I changed during the race. In the corners the car turned very good so I could put all the power to the floor, but at the end of the straights, we could have used a little more speed. Now we are fourth in the championship and we must keep up the momentum to move forward.”
“On the last lap, Martin Basso got up beside me, and I was trying to keep my third position,” said a disappointed Macri. “I knew if he got by me, I wouldn’t be able to pass him again. I carried just a little too much speed with me in corner one and the car got out from under me, and I just couldn’t control it. It was too late then. The team did an excellent job. They gave me a really fast car. I was able to move up from seventh to third. I had no clue we were going to be that fast. It was an excellent race. I’m a rookie, and I will learn from my mistakes and make good use of that in the next race.”
Stephan C. Roy (P-1 Racing/Playstation 2/Momo Swift) completed his best career finish at Montreal placing fourth after starting the race 13th. “Boy, what a race,” said an excited Roy. “Montreal is the best place to race. All the fans! My sponsors were here, my friends, my family. I’m so happy! Yesterday the car wasn’t running well, so they made an engine change. The engineer and the whole team worked until midnight last night. They did an awesome job. The car was fantastic today, it was perfect. I didn’t even have to play with the bars; it was so smooth throughout the whole race. Thanks to the wonderful job my team did, I am closer to the podium right now.” Roy’s finish comes on the heels of a fifth place finish last week in Milwaukee.
Christophe Beauvais (BBGP Racing/Port-A-Cool Swift) was racing in his hometown this weekend but did not get the results he was looking for. “I’m a little disappointed. It’s too bad this had to happen in Montreal. I didn’t start from a very good position, but we had a great setup on the car. We were just a little unlucky I guess. I am already looking forward to the next race. I’m sure we’ll do better next time.”
Round 5 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be held in three weeks as part of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar at the Burke Lakefront Airport.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday’s Round 4 race from Montreal on Saturday, June 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the East time zone, 7:00 p.m. in the Ontario and Pacific Zones, and 9:00 p.m. in the West zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Thursday, June 21, 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 22, 3:00 p.m., ONTARIO, Thursday, June 21, 4:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Thursday, June 21, 3:00 p.m., and WEST, Wednesday June 20, 4:00 p.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Wednesday, June 20, at 5:00 a.m. ET.