ROOKIE BERTRAND GODIN CAPTURES FIRST CAREER VICTORY IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD AT CIRCUIT GILLES-VILLENUVE MONTREAL (June 14) - Rookie Bertrand Godin, of St. Hyacinthe, Que., won his first career KOOL/TOYOTA...
ROOKIE BERTRAND GODIN CAPTURES FIRST CAREER VICTORY IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD AT CIRCUIT GILLES-VILLENUVE
MONTREAL (June 14) - Rookie Bertrand Godin, of St. Hyacinthe, Que., won his first career KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship race Saturday at the 2.747-mile Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit in his Player's Forsythe Racing Team Indeck Ralt RT-40. Alex Barron, of Vista, Calif., finished second in his Lynx Racing Ralt RT-41, followed by his teammate Memo Gidley, of San Rafael, Calif. Godin, 29, led 26 of the 27 lap, 74.169-mile Atlantic sprint to finish 4.164-seconds ahead of Barron. "This is a dream come true," said an ecstatic Godin. "It's wonderful to win in front of our home crowd, in front of the Player's people. "The track was a little more slippery than yesterday. The balance of the car was great, but it had more understeer than yesterday. I had good traction and that was good because there were a lot of turns that required it. I am so excited!" The victory capped a weekend that saw him shatter the existing track qualifying record of current PPG CART driver Patrick Carpentier. Godin's time of 1:38.687=100.200 mph easily eclipsed Carpentier's time of 1:40.373=96.480 mph set last June. Case Montgomery, of Salinas, Calif., slipped past Godin on the start in turn two. Godin kept heavy pressure on Montgomery throughout the opening lap, and regained the lead on lap two when the two drivers banged wheels on the front straightaway. Meanwhile, Barron kept a watchful eye for any opening that might occur, should the two front runners fall aside. Barron passed Montgomery's Microsoft Wall Data Ralt RT-41 on lap 10, but was continually menaced by Montgomery. Jeret Schroeder, of Vineland, N.J., soon made it a three-way battle after sneaking up from seventh on the starting grid. Schroeder, whose brakes were fading, made nose-to-tail contact with Montgomery in turn 15 on lap 11. Schroeder spun into the adjacent gravel pit, but Montgomery was able to recover after getting sideways. He retired on lap 15 with mechanical problems. "Alex Barron, Case Montgomery and I were battling for second place as we went into the last chicane," said Schroeder. "Unfortunately, three laps into the race, my brakes started fading and by then they were completely gone. There was nowhere to go and I hit Case." Godin had stretched his lead over Barron to more than seven seconds in the early laps, but it had been cut to less that four seconds by lap 21. Barron was unchallenged for second place, with his next closest competitor, outside polesitter Kenny Wilden, of Burlington, Ont., almost 23 seconds behind. Barron closed the gap on Godin on lap 24, to pull within two seconds of the leader and was within 1.13-seconds when the white flag flew. Godin held his lead, to prevail over Barron. Gidley finished third, to complete the season's first all rookie podium. Godin took home $20,000 of the $85,000 posted purse. "That was the best race I ever had," said Barron, who took the Atlantic points lead. "It was very physical, with lots of bumping and jostling going on, and of course it was very long, so you really had to maintain your concentration. This is a very technical track, and there are a lot of tricks and things to learn so you can go fast. Considering how practice and qualifying went, I'm very happy with our results, and happy to be leading the championship. I think we're in the hunt now, and instead of focusing on learning, we'll be focusing on winning races." Eric Lang, of New York, had his finest race of the season, finishing fourth after starting 15th in the LCI International/ACN Ralt RT-41. Godin takes the early lead for the Player's Challenge for the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship. The Player's Challenge will recognize the efforts of the 15 highest placing Atlantic drivers who earn the most points in the series' Canadian Atlantic events. Barbosa was awarded a $1,000 bonus for winning the "KOOL Move of the Race" and $1,000 for winning the "Yokohama Now You've Got Control" award for finishing nineteenth after starting the race from the pits in last. Godin earned the $1,000 "KOOL Rookie Challenge" award. Barron holds a three point advantage over Lazzaro, 60-57. Gidley moves to third with 53. Alexandre Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., who finished 30th, dropped to fourth with 49. Godin moves to fifth with 49 points. James Irwin, of South Miami, Fla., was the race winner in the C2 class. Joaquin DeSoto, of Miami, Fla., continues to lead the C2 class standing 66-36 over Irvin. The race will be aired on ESPN2, Saturday, June 21, from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. RDS will telecast the Player's Challenge on Sunday, June 22, between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. CTV has slated the race for Sunday, June 29, between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
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