San Jose: Friday qualifying notes

FIRST-ROUND OF SAN JOSE TOYOTA ATLANTIC QUALIFYING PACED BY TONIS KASEMETS SAN JOSE, California (July 29, 2005) -- Friday seems to be a day that agrees with Estonian-born racer Tonis Kasemets ( ...


SAN JOSE, California (July 29, 2005) -- Friday seems to be a day that agrees with Estonian-born racer Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil). The second-year driver led the opening-round of qualifying Friday for the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama as the series prepares for Round 9 this weekend in San Jose.

Kasemets, who currently resides in Mundelein, Illinois, posted a fast lap of 1:00.339 (86.392 mph) on his 21st of 23 turns in qualifying around the nine-turn, 1.448-mile downtown street circuit. The effort marked the third time this season that Kasemets has led Friday qualifying in nine races this season. The Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis driver also secured his sixth front-row starting position of the year as he can now start now lower than second in Sunday's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose Atlantic race (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel -- Saturday, August 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET)

With the championship point earned for leading today's provisional qualifying, Kasemets also closed the gap in the season-long Atlantic title chase. He now trails leader Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports), 216-202 entering Saturday's final round of qualifying at San Jose.

Zwolsman, the 26-year-old rookie from the Netherlands, wound up posting the second-fastest time overall in today's qualifying at 1:00.708 (85.867 mph). The Condor Motorsports racer led qualifying before his car brushed a wall on the tight street circuit late in the session, and he watched as Kasemets posted the fastest time of the day. With a series-leading four poles to his credit this season, Zwolsman will have another shot at making it five in the final round of qualifying.

Mexico's David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) produced his best series result of second place at Toronto in the last true street course on the Atlantic schedule. Using the same setup that his team used in Toronto, Martinez produced the third-fastest lap in qualifying of 1:00.812 (85.720 mph). The result ended the day on an up note for Martinez, as his car suffered a broken suspension early in the first practice session of the day.

After leading the afternoon practice, Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) was fourth-quickest in qualifying. The 23-year-old Canadian earned his first series victory in Toronto on the last street course on the schedule and he said he enjoyed the bumpy and challenging first-year street circuit in San Jose. Bessette carded a lap of 1:00.953 (85.522 mph) today for Polestar Racing Group.

Bessette's Polestar teammate Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing), fresh off her second victory of the season two weeks ago in Edmonton, rounded out the top five in qualifying with a mark of 1:01.093 (85.326 mph). Germany's Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) of Brooks Associates Racing was sixth in the provisional qualifying rundown at 1:01.438 (84.847 mph). In his series debut, 17-year-old California rookie Alan Scuito (#27 Dean R/C Products/Sparco) had a strong first Atlantic experience. The PR1 Motorsports driver had the second-fastest time in afternoon practice and he finished his first series qualifying session seventh with a top time of 1:01.478 (84.791 mph).

In his first Atlantic action since Round 4 in Portland, rookie Kyle Kelley (#24 UP was eighth with a quick lap of 1:01.573 (84.660 mph), while another driver seeing his first series action this weekend, Phil Giebler (#41 Jos. J Albanese Concrete Construction), was ninth in provisional qualifying at 1:01.631 (84.581 mph). Completing the top 10 from the first day on track in San Jose was Al Unser III (#10 Racing), who was clocked at 1:01.776 (84.382 mph).

The Atlantic cars return to the track on Saturday morning with a 30-minute practice session beginning at 9 a.m. PT. Tomorrow's final round of qualifying will take the green flag at 1:15 p.m. Follow all of this weekend's action from San Jose live through the Timing link on the series official web site,


* Kasemets fast lap of 1:00.339 (86.392 mph) stands as a new track record on the San Jose circuit. No previous records have been established at the venue as this weekend marks the debut for the Atlantic cars on the San Jose streets.

* Justin Sofio (#15 RLM Investments) owned the fastest time among the six C2 class competitors this weekend. Sofio, the leader in the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup point standings, was 12th overall in qualifying with a top time of 1:03.175 (82.514 mph).

* A crowd of 40.434 fans turned out to witness the first day of on-track activity at the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose on Friday.

* Due to unforeseen track construction issues on the new street circuit, all on-track activity was delayed by several hours on Friday.

Quotes from the top three drivers from today's qualifying session follow:

TONIS KASEMETS (#6 Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis): (On his ability to be fast very quickly on a new track) "I guess it is because I am old and experienced (laughing). Yesterday when we did the track walk, I did not know what to think about the track but then I got in my racecar and it was fun. When it clicks it clicks. (On the course) I like this track. It feels natural for me. (On the battle for the championship) Charles has been ahead of the game the whole season and I am trying to close the gap a little bit before the end of the season. I will see if I can a get a few points on Sunday. (On passing on the track) There are a couple places where you can pass, but it is going to be close. So I am worried about these guys who will never give up."

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (#11 Condor Motorsports): "I brushed the wall three laps before the end of session. Not easy to get a clear lap around this lap. It is all about finding the right spot on the track at the right moment. (On the championship) I don't put myself any pressure in leading the championship and protecting my lead. I just take one race at a time and I try to score as many points as possible in each race. (On passing on the track) I think that the first hairpin will be a good spot to make a move but it will be hard to pass the fast cars."

DAVID MARTINEZ (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics -- US Race Tronics): "The suspension broke this morning so we could not really work on the set up. It was actually better that it happened during practice than during qualifying. The team did a great job putting the car back together and then we went out and try to learn the track a bit more. We put the Toronto set-up for this qualifying session and the car was decent but the fifth gear is too short. But overall third place is good and we'll have another shot tomorrow."


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Series Atlantic
Drivers Katherine Legge , David Martinez , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Phil Giebler , Justin Sofio , Andreas Wirth , Dan Cobb , Al Unser III