Genoa Racing Finishes Second and Third In Atlantic Season Opener Friday at Sebring SEBRING, Fla., March 20 - Genoa Racing certainly got the 2009 season off to a great start, as both of its entries in Round 1 of the Cooper Tires Presents The ...
Genoa Racing Finishes Second and Third In Atlantic Season Opener Friday at Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., March 20 - Genoa Racing certainly got the 2009 season off to a great start, as both of its entries in Round 1 of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda earned podium positions Friday at Sebring International Raceway.
Competing in his first Atlantic race ever, Frederic Vervisch of Kortrijk, Belgium finished second in the Indianapolis-based team's No. 17 car, 4.731 seconds behind the winner, John Edwards. Polesitter and new track record holder Jonathan Summerton of Kissimmee, Fla. finished third in Genoa Racing's No. 19 entry.
Summerton had a problem with his car's clutch at the standing start and dropped from first to third by the end of lap one, right before a full-course yellow waved for a frightening accident involving the two drivers who finished first and second in the 2008 championship, Markus Niemela and Jonathan Bomarito. Niemela's car flipped onto a tire barrier, and the defending champion was transported to a local hospital for observation. Series officials said he was expected to be released later Friday evening. Bomarito was not hurt.
The yellow took about 18 minutes of the 45-minute contest. Summerton got around Vervisch on the restart on lap six to hold second place on lap seven, but Vervisch got back around his teammate on the next lap to regain second. The top three spots never changed again in the 19-lap contest.
Edwards had the fastest lap of the race with a 1:55.942. Vervisch's best lap was lap 17, which he turned in 1:56.018. Summerton's fastest lap was a 1:56.119 turned one lap later. Both of the Genoa cars were running faster than the leader in the waning moments of the race, but Edwards had too much of a lead for them to be able to overtake him.
The next Atlantic race is May 17 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
Frederic Vervisch: "The start was good, so we could take one position. Then, I was looking a little bit to John Edwards to see how his pace was. I had the feeling we could follow or catch up. There was a full-course yellow and on the restart I really focused on John and not on the ones behind me. There was a white car in my mirrors and it was Jonathan [Summerton], and I knew he would take me in the first corner, so we lost some time, because the rule is I cannot block so he passed. I saw I was faster and John was getting away, so I did the same move in the same spot and he didn't block me either. From then, John already had an advantage and I was just trying to catch up, but it was difficult. My goal was to finish, so second is good. I'm happy. The car was very good. I'd like to thank the team for making this happen."
Jonathan Summerton: "We started out with a bit of a problem at the start. The clutch wasn't grabbing at all for me, so I basically short shifted up the gears and got to third and then it started grabbing. Then, I had to downshift back to second to get the acceleration. In the first corner we had lost three spots, so I was down to fourth, and was able to get one back by Turn 2. Then, I just started chasing the other two. Of course, we had that full-course yellow, and from there, I tried my best, but I just didn't have a car to follow behind anybody. We had a car for out front. But with the pole and the podium finish, it was a good way to start the year. I'd love to go for the championship, but it all comes down to dollar figures."
Thomas Knapp, team manager: "The race was decided at the start. Jonathan had too much clutch slip. But the times were very close for both drivers. They both drove a good race. They were very professional and didn't put the cars at risk. Now we'll take this and go on from here."