FACT SHEET THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP Round 6, Molson Indy Toronto July 13-14, 2001, Canadian National Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Event: Round 6 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on...
FACT SHEET THE CART TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 6, Molson Indy Toronto July 13-14, 2001, Canadian National Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Event: Round 6 of the 12-event CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be held on the 1.755-mile temporary street course, as the weekend's opening event at the Molson Indy Toronto. Saturday's race will mark the eleventh time since 1990 the Atlantic series has competed on the streets of Toronto. The Atlantic Championship did not run in Toronto in 1999
Race Series: The CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic Championship is a key rung on CART's "Ladder System", and is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic series are CART Champ car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, former Champ Car stars Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan, as well as 1997 FIA Formula One Champion, Jacques Villeneuve. <pre> Atlantic Schedule at Toronto Friday, July 13: Practice 11:30 a.m. -- 12:10 p.m. Qualifying 4:00 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m
Saturday, July 14: Qualifying 8:45 a.m. -- 9:15 a.m. RACE 3:15 p.m. -- 4:15 p.m. (35 laps/61.425 miles)
</pre> Race: On the heels of the most exciting Cleveland race in Atlantic history, the CART Toyota Preview Atlantic Championship heads north of the border for the second time this season. Toronto plays host to the Round 6, 35-lap event on Saturday, July 14, at 3:15 p.m. as the weekend's opening race of the Molson Indy Toronto.
one of the favorite stops for drivers, teams, and fans. The Atlantic Championship has a rich tradition of open wheeled racing in Canada with the Molson Indy Toronto being one of the four Canadian stops on the 2001 schedule. This years race will mark the 11th time the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has run on the streets of Toronto. Victories have been equally split between Canadian and American drivers at five apiece with Woodbridge, Ontario's Andrew Bordin tying the victory total last year driving for PPI Motorsports.
As many thought, the 2001 Championship has been an exciting one. Other than Long Beach, the margin of victory of the four races to date averages out to 0.360 seconds.
The first three races of the 2001 season produced three separate winners. But, the next two races saw repeat winners step forward and into the front of the points Championship. David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) and Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) have not only spent the first half of the season swapping wins, but the points lead itself. Rutledge took an early lead with a win at Long Beach only to loose it to Orsi in Nazareth the following race. Orsi kept the lead following a win at Milwaukee, but lost it back to Rutledge who went on to win at Montreal. Orsi once again grabbed the lead two weeks ago in Cleveland with a rain soaked victory at the Burke Lakefront Airport. Orsi holds a narrow two point lead over Rutledge heading into the Molson Indy Toronto. Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) won at Nazareth and had been close in the points battle until a contact incident at Cleveland put him 21 points behind Orsi.
Orsi knows that the battle with Rutledge is just getting started. "This championship has been really difficult, but I think my team and myself are doing a really good job," said the Brazilian driver. "I think we just have to keep finishing on the podium like we have so far and we will reach our goal."
Outside of a broken gearbox at Montreal, Orsi has finished in the top two spots in the other four races. Orsi has scored 37 points apiece on road courses and ovals for a total of 74 points. On the other hand, Rutledge has scored 52 of his 72 points on road courses. The only time Rutledge has not won on a road course this season was in the rain in Cleveland.
Even though Rutledge's path to the head of the Championship has been different than the one Orsi has taken, the championship thinking is much the same. "The process of winning the championship is very much one of one race at a time, of forgetting about the big picture and narrowing your concentration to a laser-like focus on every detail, and making every session on track productive," said Rutledge. "The team is already in that mode, and I'm right in there with them."
Very few of the CART Toyota Atlantic drivers have tasted success in Toronto in Atlantic competition. Both Orsi and Rutledge were out of last year's event before the fourth lap was completed. Ave only raced here once in 1997 where he finished in 29th place.
Of the drivers scheduled to compete in Toronto this weekend, Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) owns the top finish with a 5th place performance last year. The Argentine driver is coming off a record pole run in Cleveland and has moved up to fourth place in the Championship with 39 points. After a tough start to the season, Basso scored his first podium of 2001 with a third place finish in Montreal. Although he did not fair as well in the rain at Cleveland where he came home in 7th, the pole there shows that this team is once again a contender, but has considerable ground to make up on the leaders.
"It won't be easy because we're 35 points behind Hoover Orsi right now, but we know have a good car and motor combination that is capable of scoring a lot of points," said an upbeat Basso. "So just as Orsi, David Rutledge and Tony Ave have done well in the first part of the season, I think we can be the ones doing well in the second part. With seven races to go, there is still a lot of time to catch them before we get to the last race at Laguna Seca."
Another driver getting things turned around and who also faired well last year in Toronto is CART Toyota Atlantic All-Star, Rocky Moran Jr. (Cobb Racing Swift). Moran will be making the move to Cobb Racing, pairing with T.J. Bell after running the first five races with Condor Motorsports. Moran placed seventh in Toronto last year and is coming off his best race of the season with a fifth place finish in Cleveland which moved him up to 9th in the Championship.
Taking over the duties for the #7 Condor entry will be long time Atlantic veteran, Case Montgomery (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift). Montgomery is no stranger to Atlantic competition and competed in two races last year for Worldspeed Motorsports, winning in dominating fashion at Gateway International Raceway. Other Atlantic wins came at Long Beach (1996), and Laguna Seca (1995). Montgomery finished second in Toronto in 1996.
At this point in last years Championship, the Rookie of the Year chase had come down to two drivers. Daniel Wheldon went on to win the title over Martin Basso. This year is different though with six drivers separated by 12 points. Leading the way is Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) coming off his best season performance in Cleveland. Hand leads with a total of 35 points and is fifth overall in the Championship. Hand and the defending champion DSTP team have been front runners at every road course race this season. All of this success is coming for the rookie driver who is seeing these circuits for the first time. Hand finished third in Long Beach, after leading five laps, and was running third catching the leaders in Montreal before suffering a gearbox problem late in the race. The follow up was the near win at Cleveland in a classic battle with Hoover Orsi.
"Karting was a big help--jumping from kart to kart, and track to track, you had to learn tracks fast, or you would be off the pace," said Hand of his quick adaptation to new circuits. "Also, I study track maps a lot and walk, ride or run the track as many times as I can before the first session."
There is plenty of company for Hand in the Rookie of the Year fight. Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) comes to Toronto as his home race. Macri who hails from Gormley, Ontario knows this track well running it two times in the Canadian Formula Ford 1600 Series. Not only has he run the Toronto track, he knows what victory circle looks like, winning last year on his way to the F1600 Championship. The 19 year old rookie is looking forward to getting on a familiar track for a change. " I know both the track and city a lot better than other tracks that I've been to," said Macri. "Toronto is a beautiful town with endless things to do. It is a town that explores many different cultures. For the track I like the split between the fast "S" corner's and the hard breaking hairpins. The track also gives many opportunities to overtake other cars." Macri has 31 points in the Championship, and is four points behind Hand in the Rookie of the Year chase. (8th overall).
Other rookies still in contention include Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing/Italian Motors Swift) who is only running six out of this season's 12 races. Valiante led the rookie of the year standings after four races while only running in two of them. (Long Beach 4th, Montreal 2nd). Despite running only two of the season's first five races, Valiante is only seven back of Hand with a total of 28 points. Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift), Charles Hall (Duesenberg Brother Racing/Western Union First Data Swift), and Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) are other rookies still in contention for Rookie of the Year. Ryley, who has arguably had the worst luck of any Atlantic driver this season, finished second in Milwaukee after winning the pole. Hall is coming off his best Atlantic finish of fourth two weeks ago in Cleveland and Lavin placed third in Nazareth.
Two second year drivers who could steal a win in Toronto are Stephan C. Roy (P-1 Racing/Playstation 2 Swift) and T.J. Bell (Cobb Racing Swift). After a tough start to the season which included two DNFs, Bell has rallied; posting his first Atlantic podium two weeks ago in Cleveland. Roy has yet to find the podium, but has posted two top-5 finishes at Nazareth and Montreal. Roy is sixth overall in the Championship with 33 points; followed closely by Bell, who is seventh with 31 points.
Atlantic History Toronto: The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship has raced on the streets of Toronto ten times dating back to the 1990 season. The previous Atlantic winners at Toronto were; Freddy Rhemrev (1990), Stuart Crow (1991), David Emphingham (1992), Claude Bourbonnais (1993), Richie Hearn (1994, 1995), Patrick Carpentier (1996), Memo Gidley (1997), Alexandre Tagliani (1998), and Andrew Bordin (2000).
Television: ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Saturday's Round 6 race from Toronto Broadcasts on Sunday, July 22, at 10:00 a.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet Live! ESPN2 will replay the race on Thursday, August 2, at 4:00 a.m. ET.
Race Video: CART Toyota Atlantic highlights from the Molson Indy Toronto, Saturday, July Highlights 14, 2001 will be included in the following VNR (Video News Release):
11:00 A.M. ET, Sunday July 15th, 2001 Galaxy 11 KU14 Transponder Downlink Frequency 11980, Audio 6.2/6.8 (Vertical Polarization)
Next Race: The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues with Round 7 on Sunday, July 29, at the Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway.