Post-season awards announced



INDIANAPOLIS (September 1, 2005) -- Remarkable Dutch driving sensation Charles Zwolsman (#11 Continental Cartage/Condor Motorsports) and his title-winning Condor Motorsports team had to work for everything they achieved in the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and that hard work continues to be recognized even after the final checkered flag has flown on the '05 season.

Zwolsman and the overachieving Condor team were honored at the Toyota Atlantic season-ending awards banquet on Sunday evening, just hours after the rookie from the Netherlands wrapped up the series championship with a sixth-place finish at the Molson Indy Montreal, the 12th and final round in the 32nd season of Atlantic competition.

The best and brightest stars of North America's top open-wheel development series were also recognized for their achievements both on and off the track this season. But it was the rags-to-riches story of Zwolsman and the Condor team that earned the lion's share of the kudos on a special evening of celebration at the Casino de Montreal, located next to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road circuit.

After producing not only the team's first title, but also the squad's first-ever victories in its sixth season of racing in the series, Zwolsman and Condor Motorsports captured three post-season awards. The 26-year-old racer, who barely signed on a week before the season-opening race in Long Beach before going on to win three races, five poles and eight podium finishes, was named Atlantic Rookie of the Year for emerging as the class of a field that was dominated by first-year drivers.

Condor's chief mechanic on Zwolsman's championship car, Gustavo Gaston, also earned the Snap-On Top Wrench Award for his superb abilities this season. The top honor of the evening -- the crowning of Zwolsman as the 33rd champion in the rich history of the Atlantic series -- also served as a tribute to the Condor team and its well-respected owner Carlos Bobeda, the 1998 series Team Owner of the Year.

The 2005 season saw Brooks Associates Racing emerge as one of the top teams in its 11th year of racing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) gave the team its first-ever win this season in Denver and owners John and Sue Brooks were named Team Owners of the Year for guiding the squad to front of the pack in '05.

Capping an impressive first year with his second win of the season and a victory in front of his hometown fans in Montreal, Canadian Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design/Gouin Leblanc C.A./Services de Courtage Lessard) captured the prestigious Gilles Villeneuve Award. Named after the famous former Atlantic racer from Quebec, the award is given annually to the driver that distinguishes themselves through sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance in the face of disappointment. Bessette exhibited those qualities this season while finishing fourth in points for Polestar Racing Group.

Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) emerged as one of racing's top young talents this season. The 25-year-old British rookie finished third in the championship, highlighted by three victories, as she became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. For her accomplishments in '05, Legge was honored with the BBS Rising Star Award.

After producing seven C2 class wins this season in the category for competitors with pre-existing Atlantic equipment, Justin Sofio (#15 RLM Investments) of Mathiasen Motosports was officially crowned Yokohama Tire C2 Cup Champion.

The Jovy Marcelo Sportsmanship Award was presented to rookie David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics). Marcelo, the 1991 Atlantic series champion who hailed from the Philippines, was a great racer, sportsman and friend to many drivers and an award is given in his honor each year to the driver who best embodies Marcelo's spirit. Martinez, who earned five podiums including a third-place run from the pole on Sunday, finished fifth in the series championship.

McAtee Motorsports driver Kyle Kelley (#24 UP was this year's recipient of the Michael Rosen Award. Instituted by longtime Atlantic supporter Arlene Rosen, the award is named in honor of her son, the former series racer. It's presented to the person who demonstrates the same dedication, perseverance and the desire to succeed that was so evident to those who knew Rosen. Kelley accepted the award in memory of Scott Butcher, his longtime friend and crew chief who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on August 8.

The top three drivers in the championship standings, Zwolsman, Legge and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil), who finished second in the title chase in his second series season, were also presented with cash prizes from series sponsor Ohlins USA and a set of Yokohama tires. In addition to earning a Champ Car ride in the series season finale at Mexico City November 4-6, after winning the Atlantic crown, Zwolsman was awarded the keys to a new Toyota passenger vehicle as well. Toyota also presented Zwolsman with a champion's painting, crafted by motorsports artist and Champ Car steward Jim Swintal, commemorating his drive to the title this season.

Some of the series' top behind-the-scenes talents were also recognized at the awards celebration. Brooks Associates Racing's Randy Bryan was named Lincoln Electric Mechanic of the Year after skillfully preparing the chassis run by both Wirth and Al Unser III (#10 Racing). Kasemets captured the Ohlins Shock Technician of the Year award for his hands-on work on his own entry, while Alan O'Leary of Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis earned Engineer of the Year honors for his efforts on Kasemets' car in 2005.

Atlantic and Champ Car officials also took time to recognize and honor longtime series title sponsor and partner Toyota Motor Sales USA and Toyota Racing Development (TRD). Toyota completed its 17th and final season as the primary Atlantic series sponsor in '05 and the entire Atlantic community showed its appreciation at the banquet for the car company's unwavering support. Engine designer and manufacturer Hasselgren Engineering was also recognized for its hard work and dedication to the series over the years.

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Gilles Villeneuve , Katherine Legge , Kyle Kelley , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Justin Sofio , Andreas Wirth , Dan Cobb , Al Unser III
Teams Toyota Racing