ORSI ON A ROLL Breaks Track Record on Way to Second Pole in a Row TROIS-RIVIERES, Qc., (August 4, 2001) -- With the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship heading into the final stretch of the 2001 season, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print...
ORSI ON A ROLL
Breaks Track Record on Way to Second Pole in a Row
TROIS-RIVIERES, Qc., (August 4, 2001) -- With the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship heading into the final stretch of the 2001 season, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) is trying to distance himself from his nearest competitors. The red hot Brazilian driver took another step toward his Championship goal, winning the pole on Saturday for the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
After being relegated to start second four times this season, Orsi has now claimed two poles in a row, winning his first of his career last week in Chicago. Orsi broke Buddy Rice's 2000 track qualifying record of 1:00.804 seconds (90.053 mph) with a time 1:00.663 seconds (90.263 mph). The session started slowly for Orsi and he did not claim the top spot on the time sheets until the final moments of the 30-minute session.
"We started the session on old tires because we did not want to put too much mileage on the new tires we are going to use in the race tomorrow," said the CTAC points leader. "Right when we put on the stickers (new tires), the car responded with much more grip and then we made some fine-tuning adjustments. We still need to do some work for the race but I think we are going to have a really quick car for tomorrow."
With the pole, Orsi extended his Championship points lead over David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Keg Steakhouse Swift) to 18 points. Rutledge's run was good enough to start third in tomorrow's 1:40 p.m. EST race, but he brought out the only red flag of the session after running into the turn six tire wall.
"I'm not happy with qualifying third, but I'm not dissatisfied, said Vancouver's David Rutledge. "This is a tough track and there are some really good drivers here, so the fact that my time from halfway through the session stood up all the way to the end is a good sign. The car is actually quite good, but I carried a bit too much speed going into turn six and put it into the tires. The suspension is bent, but there's no real damage and we'll be in good shape for tomorrow. We have a few things we want to try in the morning warm-up, and this is a chance to show that I can win a race even when I don't start from the pole."
Rutledge has won three races this season including both of the events held thus far in Canada. All three of Rutledge's victories this year and one last season have come from starting on the pole.
Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) looked like he would win his second pole of the season after Rutledge's incident brought out the red flag late in the session. Basso was on top and when the green flag came back out, only several minutes of track time remained. Basso was dropped to second after Orsi turned his blistering track-record setting lap but is still on the front row for tomorrow's race. Basso barely missed being under the old track record with a time of 1:00.841 seconds (89.999 mph).
"I'm really happy to be starting up on the front row, said Argentina's Martin Basso. "I don't know why the track was so different from this morning but the car wanted to work better in cooler conditions, but I think we will be OK for the race. We'll work on a few things tomorrow morning in the warm-up and take it from there."
Rutledge's Lynx Racing teammate, Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing/Copart Auto Actions/Italian Motors Swift) will start fourth tomorrow after turning in a time of 1:01.039 seconds (89.707 mph). Valiante was the top qualifying rookie with fellow Canadian first year driver, Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) who clocked in at 1:01.085 seconds (89.639 mph), good for fifth.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship returns to the track bright and early tomorrow morning with a 7:45 a.m. EST warm-up session. The green flag drops for what should be another classic race at Trois-Rivieres at 1:40 p.m. EST.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 8 race from Trois-Rivieres on Saturday, August 11, at 5:00 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, August 14, at 7:00 p.m. in the EAST, ONTARIO and WEST time zones, and at 8:00 p.m. in the PACIFIC zone. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Thursday, August 16, 1:30 p.m., PACIFIC, Friday, August 17, 3:00 p.m., WEST, Thursday, August 16, 3:00 p.m., and ONTARIO, no repeat date. ESPN2 will replay the race on Tuesday, August 14, at 4:00 a.m. EST.
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.
For full results and statistics, go to http://www.toyotaatlantic.com