DAVID MARTINEZ LEADS FINAL ATLANTIC MONTREAL QUALIFYING TO EARN FIRST SERIES POLE POSITION MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 27, 2005) -- Proving just how comfortable and quick he's been this weekend at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road course,...
DAVID MARTINEZ LEADS FINAL ATLANTIC MONTREAL QUALIFYING TO EARN FIRST SERIES POLE POSITION
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 27, 2005) -- Proving just how comfortable and quick he's been this weekend at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road course, David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) of Mexico backed up his performance from Friday as he led the final round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Montreal Atlantic race (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel -- Saturday, September 3 at 9 p.m. ET), securing his first career pole position in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.
The rookie racer from Monterrey, Mexico who has produced top-three finishes in three of his last five series races, has been the one setting the pace this weekend in the final round of the 2005 Atlantic championship. He led Friday qualifying to secure a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race and he continued to elevate his game on Saturday, leading the morning practice session and the final round of qualifying with a fast lap of 1:35.122 (102.525 mph). While Martinez topped all Atlantic competitors with today's time, his fast lap from Friday's round of qualifying -- a mark of 1:35.084 (102.556 mph) -- remained the quickest time of the weekend.
Martinez will be joined on the front row by Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil), who also failed to equal his qualifying mark from Friday, but still posted the second-fastest lap in Saturday's session with a time of 1:35.473 (102.148 mph). Kasemets earned his eighth front-row starting spot with today's result and he extended his impressive streak of qualifying among the top five drivers to 11 consecutive races this season.
While Kasemets hopes to earn vie for his fourth Atlantic win on Sunday, he will need to rely on something unusual or unexpected in order to compete for the series championship. Without earning either of the championship points available for leading both rounds of qualifying, Kasemets remains 26 points behind series leader Charles Zwolsman (#11 Continental Cartage/Condor Motorsports) entering tomorrow's race (287-261). With that large of a cushion in the points, all Zwolsman has to do is start the race and complete a lap and the Dutch rookie will win the series title.
With some tough challenges this weekend from the fast drivers behind him in the series title chase, Kasemets will be looking to hold on to the second spot in the championship standings in Sunday's event. Top series Canadian Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design/Gouin Leblanc C.A./Services de Courtage Lessard) has been very quick racing in front of his home crowd over the first two days of the Molson Indy Montreal. He was third in Friday qualifying and duplicated that effort today with a top lap of 1:35.690 (101.917 mph). The St. Bruno, Quebec native produced his top starting position since Round 7 in Toronto, when he won his first series race coming from a third-place starting spot.
After finishing fourth in the first round of qualifying, British rookie sensation Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) wound up in the same spot in the final session on Saturday. Legge clocked in a top lap of 1:35.970 (101.619 mph) for her seventh top-five qualifying effort in her last eight races.
Zwolsman, who hasn't won a race since Round 6 in Cleveland but has produced a series-high eight podiums and five poles, qualified fifth for the final race with a mark of 1:36.239 (101.335 mph). The 26-year-old rookie is looking for a clean start and a strong finish Sunday in order to secure the series crown.
Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) equaled his best starting position of the season as he qualified sixth with a lap of 1:36.480 (101.082 mph), while Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com) produced his second-best qualifying effort of '05 in seventh place at 1:36.876 (100.669 mph).
Canadian Eric Jensen (#2 Konica Minolta/Gehl Company) posted a time of 1:38.217 (99.294 mph) in eighth position, while Dan Selznick (#49 The Room Store) was ninth with a time of 1:38.315 (99.195 mph). Rounding out the top 10 was Chris Souliotis (#56 Speedway Motors) of British Columbia, who had a fast lap of 1:39.867 (97.654 mph).
ATLANTIC QUALIFYING NOTES
Martinez claimed the $1,000 Toyota pole award for leading today's final round of qualifying.
Lee Atkins (#48 Advanced Medical, Inc.) earned a bonus point for posting the fastest time among the C2 competitors this weekend with a lap of 1:40.498 (97.041 mph) that put him 11th overall.
Quotes from the top three drivers from today's qualifying session follow:
DAVID MARTINEZ (#7 Roshfrans/US Race Tronics -- US Race Tronics): "It feels good to run up front. The team gave me a great car. I am happy for US Race Tronics and Roshfrans because they trust me and I can finally deliver good results. Now, I want to finish the job in tomorrow's race. I knew from the start that the team had the potential to take pole positions, but it is good to put it on a piece on paper toward the end of the season. It is good to finish strong and I hope we will be even stronger next year. (On tomorrow's race) I think that I have a consistent car, so I just need to take a nice and safe start, and then to drive hard to stay up front."
TONIS KASEMETS (#6 Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis): "I think that the track knowledge here is a big thing. During all the session, I couldn't reproduce the same thing every lap. I was not very consistent in my driving. I think it helps certainly to have been here before, so it is a big disadvantage that it is my first time here. I think I have a good car, but I don't know if it is going to be enough to beat David Martinez. (On his fight for the championship) I just to want to bring my car home. I want to finish strong for the championship but if Charles Zwolsman makes it through the first lap, there will be no point in pushing too hard (Zwolsman will win the championship if he completes one lap in tomorrow's race). I will be happy with a second-place finish in the championship."
ANTOINE BESSETTE (#3 Unik Auto Design/Gouin Leblanc C.A./Services de Courtage lessard -- Polestar Racing): "The session didn't go quite as we wanted, but I am still happy when I compare the car we have today to the car we had yesterday. We solved the understeer problem we had and that's a big improvement. I am even more satisfied that, though we had a little problem with the gearbox, we improved our time from yesterday. The first gear did not go in at Turn 2 and the hairpin. We need to fix the gearbox problem and then we will be good for the race. (On his starting spot) I feel good about where I am starting. The second row is good. I like to start behind fast guys because they are going to teach me how to be a bit faster."