Two Podiums in Portland The unpredictable summer weather in Portland turned Friday's Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama qualifying session into a guessing game. German rookie Andreas Wirth had the perfect combination of speed and...
Two Podiums in Portland
The unpredictable summer weather in Portland turned Friday's Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama qualifying session into a guessing game. German rookie Andreas Wirth had the perfect combination of speed and foresight as he beat the raindrops on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway road circuit to secure his first Atlantic pole position.
With rain threatening at the beginning of the 30-minute qualifying session for the first of two Toyota Atlantic races this weekend, Wirth and the other 19 series competitors furiously attacked the track to take advantage of the dry conditions at Portland International Raceway. Wirth posted a fast lap of 1:08.546 on his 10th turn on the 12-turn course, which turned out to be the final time around in the dry for the 20-year-old racer. After Wirth's quick time, the rain started coming down a bit harder on course and the remainder of the qualifying session was run in wet conditions with slower lap times.
By earning the pole, Wirth claimed a championship point and started from the point in Saturday's race. He also became the 100th driver in the 32-year history of the Toyota Atlantic Championship to win a pole and he also produced the first pole for his Brooks Associates Racing team.
After three red-flag caution periods for drivers going off-course basically cut in half the 30-minute morning qualifying session, Germany's Andreas Wirth owned the top time for most of the morning's qualifying for Race #2. Following a long red flag period, Kasemets, Kelley and Zwolsman were all able to run a complete lap before the checker, turning in their quick times. Wirth was unlucky to catch the checker before he was able to complete a lap and was left without an opportunity to challenge for pole, winding up fourth in the order with a best lap of 1:09.810.
In Race 1 Andreas Wirth brought the 19-car Atlantic field cleanly through the difficult PIR Festival Curves at the start and started to pull away.After a caution the field was together again and Andreas was able to pull away after the restart. Then his car started to loose grip. The 20-year-old Wirth turned away several challenges by Kasemets, leading the first 24 laps of the 35-lap event. Wirth and Kasemets battled wheel-to-wheel and actually made contact in Turn 12 before Kasemets fought his way by to capture the lead on the front straightaway. Andreas lost the 2nd position too after the fight with Kasemets and finished on P3. Andreas' quotes after race 1: " I had a good beginning, the car was good, and after Kasemets hit me I thought there was something wrong with the alignment because it was getting worse and worse every lap. I finish on the podium but this is disappointing for me i want to win!
In Race #2 the German rookie Wirth got a good jump at the start of the race, moving from fourth to second in Turn 1. He tried valiantly to keep up with the leader at the beginning of the race but he went away and then, with the traffic, he never got a chance to try and gain time on him. Wirth's quotes after Race #2: "I tried to follow Kasemets pace the first few laps but he had the faster car today. So I just concentrated on driving my second place home. Maybe a caution would have helped me to try and pass him, you never know". Wirth crossed the finish line in second place for his second consecutive podium result.
The next Toyota Atlantic event will be held at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport on June 24-26.