Kasemets at Toronto: A course in obstacles As Tonis Kasemets observes, after his first outing ever at the annual Molson Indy Toronto, "You have your ups and downs... and you have your downs and ups. We'll be back up again. Our points are...
Kasemets at Toronto: A course in obstacles
As Tonis Kasemets observes, after his first outing ever at the annual Molson Indy Toronto, "You have your ups and downs... and you have your downs and ups. We'll be back up again. Our points are still holding at 2nd. That's the good news. So overall, I'm satisfied."
The Molson Indy at Exhibition Place in scenic downtown Toronto, Ontario was a literal 'street fight' for Team Tonis on the 11-turn, 1.755-mile temporary street course. Round 7 of 12 of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship (TAC) presented by Yokohama, presented it's fair share of challenges for the #6 Flexovit Abrasives Products/TMI Industries/MK/Red Line Oil - Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis second year TAC entry. It wasn't until day 3 on Sunday, that Kasemets "found the right balance in the car" during the final 15 minute warm-up session, with only one hour and 15 minutes before the race.
Team Tonis weekend synopsis:
Friday July 8
1st Practice: A yellow flag is shown immediately, taking 5 minutes off of the clock for the welding of a man-hole cover on the course. Then Kasemets quickly finds the front of the 15 car field on lap 2. Staying in the top 3 consistently; lap 16 of 20 logged is his best at 1:08.056 seconds where he continues to lead with a margin of +.155 seconds. At the end of the session, he is 4th quickest.
1st Qualifying: Kasemets is 2nd by lap 3. At lap 4, he heads to the pits; the first of several pit stops in this session which was also marred by a red flag for a car stopped on course. He continues to hold his strong 2nd position of this session; lap 8 of 17 is his best with a time of 1:07.820 seconds, only -.140 off of provisional pole sitter Charles Zwolsman. A mechanical failure stops Tonis on course, where he has to leave the #6 as he is whisked away to the traditional post-qualifying press conference for the top 3 provisional qualifiers.
Saturday July 9
2nd Practice: Leading by the lap 3, Tonis pits on laps 4, 5, 7, 10 and 12. Still "finding balance for the street course surface", he breaks back into the 1:07's.
Lap 17 of 19 is his best at 1:07.732 seconds, -.116 overall. Settling for 4th at the end of this session.
2nd Qualifying: Kasemets is running 4th, 5th and 6th throughout. Still toying "with more set-up ideas." His best time is lap 14 of 20 on the books, another 1:07.975. End of session, he has to settle for 5th fastest, -.640 seconds away of the front.
Combined qualifying results place him inside of row 3, starting 5th.
Sunday July 10
Warm-up: Tonis is 5th at the end of the 15 minute session; lap 11 of 12 is his best with a 1:08.767.
RACE: Starting 5th, Kasemets is passed by Katherine Legge, who starts 6th; he's in 6th place on lap 1, where he stays for 22 of the 35 laps. Laps 18 through 20 are under yellow, for the #56 car of Chris Souliotis who hits the wall in turn 5. On the restart, Tonis continues to try to make his move upwards. On lap 22 a black flag is issued to Katherine Legge for blocking Kasemets; he then moves up to 4th. On lap 26, Tonis is firmly in 3rd, but still minus 2.739 seconds from the front. Lap 30 brings a shocker: Kasemets has to pit for a loose wheel nut on the left rear. The stop is 63.111 seconds. He rejoins the field on lap 32 and is now 8th and for the first time in 13 TAC starts, a lap down. At the checkers, he takes the 8th finishing position.
Kasemets remains 2nd in points with 179 to Charles Zwolsmans' 186. With two wins, two poles, two 2nd place finishes and a 4th in the previous five TAC outings, Tonis is "quite happy to be holding 2nd in points... it's not ideal, as this allows Bessette to get closer." Antoine Bessette is 3rd in points now with 169, as he is the eventual winner of the Molson Indy at Toronto.
Kasemets found Toronto to be, "One of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. The architecture, the people... it's all quite European. Easily the best place I've visited in 11 years since moving to North America from Estonia. I'm very impressed."
Tonis adds: "As for the race weekend? Well, we have good days and we have bad days. That's that. I'm already in a mind-set for my first ever event at Edmonton this upcoming weekend and hoping for more good days."
Tonis would also like to thank the fans who turned out Thursday night (July 7th) at the Victory Sports Bar & Grill: "Thanks to all of the Champ Car Fanatics. They are super nice people. I had a very good time. I can't drive that Racing Challenge on an Xbox Video Game System worth a crap though. Yeah, I was last in every race but it was still a very good night out with our supporters and my fellow competitors." TAC drivers who joined in the fun were Al Unser III, Katherine Legge, Antoine Bessette, Charles Zwolsman and Kasemets.
The Molson Indy at Toronto Atlantic race airs (in the USA) on Speed TV, via tape-delay this Saturday, July 16th at 2:00pm Eastern Time.
Round 8 of 12 is next at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; July 15th, 16th and 17th. Kasemets will tackle the 1.96-mile temporary street course at Finning International Speedway for the first time in his career.