Bessette victorious in Toronto Molson Indy, Toronto, July 10. -- Antoine Bessette took his first win in the Toyota Atlantic championship on home turf after passing David Martinez on the penultimate lap and taking his career-first checkered flag.
Bessette victorious in Toronto
Molson Indy, Toronto, July 10. -- Antoine Bessette took his first win in the Toyota Atlantic championship on home turf after passing David Martinez on the penultimate lap and taking his career-first checkered flag. Starting from third place, the 23-year-old rookie driver that hails out of St-Bruno, Quebec, managed past the first corner without trouble and drove patiently behind the leaders, setting up some passing for the later stages of the 35-lap race. On lap 26, he earned second place when series leader Zwolsman experienced some mechanical problems. For the next laps, he put pressure on Martinez and got by him in turn one on lap 33. He finished with a 1,281 second ahead of the Mexican. Cheered by the crowd, he put on a string of donuts before heading to podium ceremony.
"This is the race I planned, said a shining Bessette. My first concern was to get clear by the first corner. I knew I had a faster car then David (Martinez) but was in no rush to pass him as long as he stayed within reach of Charles (Zwolsman). When he dropped out of contention, I knew I had to look for the proper moment to take the lead. I'm so happy for my team that gave me a good car all weekend. This has got to be the turning point in my season since I get big championship points and keep first place within sight. Let's get ready for Edmonton."
Top-five all weekend
In every outing from Friday morning to race day, Bessette posted very quick times on the 1,755 mile twisty Toronto track. He was fastest in both practices, second in the first qualifying session and fourth in the second qualifying session and morning warm-up. "I worked very hard with my engineer Bruce Potter on setting up the #3 Unik Auto Design car for this track. The car for the race was the best compromise and I felt very confident when I took to the track."
Bessette's victory was the first by a Canadian since Michael Valiante in 2003 and the first by a Quebec driver since Patrick Carpentier in 1996. By coincidence, the engineer for Carpentier that year was Jim Griffiths, Polestar Racing Group team owner with Bruce Potter!
Closing the gap in the standings
Bessette remains third in the season with 169 points but closes the gap behind Tonis Kasemets (179) and Charles Zwolsman (186). Polestar Racing Group heads out to Western Canada for the maiden event in Edmonton, Alberta, the Edmonton Grand Prix, the second of three Canadian events.
Next round of the 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic championship will take place on July 15 to 17 at Finning International Speedway, a 1,960-mile 12-turn temporary airport course. Antoine Bessette will drive the Polestar Racing Group #3 UNIK Auto Design car.