TROIS-RIVIERES, Qc., (August 3, 2001) -- Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) and David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Keg Steakhouse Swift) continued their Championship battle during qualifying for the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on Friday.
TROIS-RIVIERES, Qc., (August 3, 2001) -- Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) and David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Keg Steakhouse Swift) continued their Championship battle during qualifying for the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on Friday. After seven races, the pair are setting a blistering pace and are attempting to distance themselves from the pack before hitting the stretch run of the season.
After Rutledge set the quickest time in this morning's practice, it was Orsi that came back to snare the provisional pole with a time of 1:01.028 seconds (89.723 mph), barely edging out Rutledge who clocked in at 1:01.083 seconds (89.642 mph). The pair have been locked in a tight battle for the Championship from the drop of the green flag at Long Beach with the lead changing hands five times so far this season. Orsi holds a 17 point lead over Rutledge heading into Sunday's 45-lap race, but Rutledge and the Lynx Racing team have been strong on road courses winning three of the season's four events on those type circuits.
"We made some progress from this morning's practice," said Brazil's Hoover Orsi. "We need to keep improving for tomorrow's qualifying and hopefully, we'll get the pole. Right now, it is pretty tough. I feel like I'm driving on the limit the whole time, but the car is good."
Several drivers received black flags for running all four wheels over the curbing at the outside of turn 8 including Rutledge who received his in the final minutes of the session. Other drivers penalized for the same infraction were Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) and Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing/Copart Auto Auctions/Italian Motors Swift).
"The car's actually quite good, but the biggest challenge seems to be finding space on the track for a clear lap," said Rutledge. "The track here typically grips up during the course of the weekend, and our challenge will be to see how much we can trim the car out for top speed. We're in good shape, and we'll be going for the pole tomorrow."
Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift), who has finished in the top five in three of the past four races, continued to keep pace with the lead pair. The Argentine driver turn a lap of 1:01.314 seconds (89.304 mph) to place him in third heading into tomorrow's qualifying session.
"I'm happy to have third place from this session because we did it without first gear," said Basso. "I think tomorrow should be better because my car was pretty good this afternoon. We'll improve on it tomorrow morning during practice and should give us a good shot at the pole in the afternoon."
Stephan C. Roy (P-1 Racing/Playstation 2 Momo Swift) spun in the final minutes of the session and made contact with the wall in Turn 8. Roy was uninjured in the incident but the car took on heavy damage to the left front suspension. However, Roy did turn in his fastest time of the session the previous lap at 1:01.480 seconds (89.063 mph) to put himself in fourth heading into tomorrow. Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) led the rookies and rounded out the top five with a time of 1:01.528 seconds (88.994 mph).
Roy is looking for good results in front of his hometown fans. "I'm pretty happy compared to this morning. Our time was much better this afternoon and we are looking good for tomorrow, so I'll cross my fingers."
The CART Toyota Atlantic teams are back on track on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. EST with qualifying starting later that same day at 1:00 p.m. EST.
For full results and statistics, go to http://www.toyotaatlantic.com
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and a key rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also 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, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.