Bomarito Leads Tight Atlantic Championship Points Race Back to Trois-Rivieres INDIANAPOLIS (August 11, 2008) - For the first time since 2003, the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will headline the historic Grand...
Bomarito Leads Tight Atlantic Championship Points Race Back to Trois-Rivieres
INDIANAPOLIS (August 11, 2008) - For the first time since 2003, the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will headline the historic Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, and the supportive Canadian fans will be treated to one of the closest Atlantic points battles in years.
Just seven points separate leader Jonathan Bomarito and third-place Markus Niemela, with fifth-place Carl Skerlong still within sight of the championship lead heading into Round 8 of the 11-race championship. Bomarito, who drives the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments entry for Mathiasen Motorsports, has been the hottest driver on the Atlantic circuit over the past four events, with top-four results in all four races and two victories.
Bomarito claimed his first win of the season in Race #1 of a doubleheader at Edmonton last month and became the first two-time winner of the 2008 season last weekend in the first race of a doubleheader at Road America. With a second-place performance in the second race at the historic circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Bomarito moved into the points lead. Bomarito has 158 points to lead Canadian James Hinchcliffe by four points, while Niemela is third with 151 points. Rookie Jonathan Summerton is fourth with 135 points, followed by Skerlong with 128 markers.
Any of the aforementioned drivers could win both the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, as well as the 2008 Atlantic title. Prior to his Road America performance, Bomarito was at his strongest on temporary circuits, having started the Long Beach season-opener from the pole position and scoring top-five results in all three races on temporary circuits this year.
Hinchcliffe, meanwhile, has been one of the most consistent drivers this season in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. The Canadian picked up the second victory of his Atlantic career in May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and has not finished outside the top 10 this year. He surrendered the points lead in the Road America doubleheader last weekend, but will be even more hungry to regain the top spot in front of his countrymen at the most prestigious and historic race of the 35th Anniversary Atlantic season.
For his part, Niemela has already had a solid rookie season in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting entry for Brooks Associates Racing. The Finnish racer has not finished worse than seventh in any race this season and scored back-to-back second-place results in Round 3 at Mont-Tremblant and Round 4 at Edmonton. However, he comes into the Trois-Rivieres weekend still looking for his first career victory in Atlantic competition.
Niemela leads Summerton in the battle for Rookie of the Year honors, but Summerton is another driver who has electrified the series of late with a pair of victories in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing machine. He earned his first win last month in the second race of the Edmonton doubleheader and charged from ninth on the grid to take his second win of the season in last weekend's second half of the Road America doubleheader, the deepest starting spot for an Atlantic race winner in 10 years. Summerton's two finishes of 12th or worse are all that is preventing him from being much further up in the championship standings, and if he can avoid performances like that over the remaining four races of the season, he definitely still has a shot at both the Rookie of the Year and overall championship titles.
Like Summerton, Skerlong is another driver who would be much higher on the championship points table had it not been for some bad luck in the No. 14 King Taco machine for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong has finished five of the seven races this season inside the top five, but owns a pair of results of 19th or worse. He heads to Trois-Rivieres also looking for his first career Atlantic victory in a season that has already seen five different drivers win races.
Among those drivers to win this year are Dutchman Junior Strous and Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro. Strous picked up his first career Atlantic victory in the series last visit to Quebec at Mont-Tremblant in June in a dominating performance after starting from the pole in the No. 6 NEM/Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz machine for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland. With that result, Strous moved into the points lead, but he has struggled of late and now finds himself sixth in the championship.
De Silvestro became the second woman in Atlantic history to win a race with her popular triumph in April's season-opening race at Long Beach in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing. Since then, De Silvestro has finished inside the top 10 in four of six races and is now ranked ninth in the championship.
Both Strous and De Silvestro certainly have the potential to win again this weekend at Trois-Rivieres, as does American rookie Dane Cameron and Canadians Kevin Lacroix and Daniel Morad. Cameron, who drives the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing, has finished inside the top five in four of his last five starts in the series and picked up his first career pole position for Race #1 of the Road America doubleheader, in which he finished an Atlantic career-best of second.
A native of Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Lacroix is undoubtedly the hometown hero in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. He has been quick virtually throughout the season in the No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco machine for Walker Racing, but is another driver who has been bitten by bad luck. The same can be said for Toronto's Morad, who drives the No. 70 Metro Directories of Georgia/Grapeking machine for Eurointernational. The 2007 Formula BMW USA champion has a best result of sixth thus far in his rookie Atlantic season. A victory by either Morad or Lacroix would immediately make their 2008 Atlantic season a success.
Actor-turned-racer Frankie Muniz will be looking to continue his momentum from a solid weekend at Road America in the No. 41 PCM/USRT entry for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Muniz earned the best result of his season to date with a 10th-place run in the second race of last weekend's doubleheader and he is knocking on the door of the top 10 in the championship standings.
Mexican driver David Martinez, who finished seventh in both races of the Road America doubleheader last weekend in his first Atlantic appearance since 2006, will again drive the No. 7 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa entry for Forsythe/Pettit Racing this weekend in Trois-Rivieres. Martinez is filling in for his countryman, David Garza, who suffered a training injury prior to the Road America weekend.
The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres will feature a total of 10 rookie drivers. In addition to those already mentioned, the field will include the two sons of 1992 Formula 1 World Champion and 1993 IndyCar champion Nigel Mansell. Greg Mansell will drive the No. 5 Sunseeker machine and Leo Mansell will pilot the No. 15 Sunseeker entry for Walker Racing.
Other rookies include Finnish driver Henri Karjalainen in the No. 2 GNLD machine for Montreal-based Jensen MotorSport, Dutch racer Dominick Muermans in the No. 9 Hugenholtz Property Group/Jumbo Supermarkten/Muermans Group machine for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland, Brazilian Douglas Soares in the No. 11 Banco BMG machine for Condor Motorsports, and Venezuelan Luis Schiavo in the No. 46 Constructora Iriaca/Astaltatora Maracay/Transporte Jumbo/Energy Freight System machine for Eurointernational.
All Atlantic race cars are Swift 016.a Atlantic chassis powered by 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth MZR engines capable of speeds in excess of 175 mph. Each entry will ride on new Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires throughout the weekend.
The weekend schedule will see Atlantic machines on the streets of Trois-Rivieres for the first time since 2003 beginning at 8:45 a.m. ET on the morning of Friday, August 15 for a 45-minute practice session. Friday's schedule will also include First Round Qualifying from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. and an all-driver autograph session at the Cooper Tire display from 4:15 to 5:00 p.m.
On Saturday, the Atlantic machines return to the circuit for another practice session from 7:45 to 8:20 a.m., followed by Final Qualifying from 11:35 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. Sunday's race day schedule calls for a 20-minute warm-up session beginning at 7:50 a.m. and Round 8 of the 11-race 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, will roll off from a standing start at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race will be 50 minutes in length,
Live Timing & Scoring data from every on-track session is available on the official web site of the Atlantic Championship, www.atlantic-championship.com.
COOPER TIRES PRESENTS THE ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA GRAND PRIX DE TROIS-RIVIERES PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK
* Jonathan and Jonathan: Lately it's been good to be an American driver named "Jonathan" in the Atlantic Championship. Jonathan Bomarito (No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments) has taken over the championship lead on the strength of victories in Race #1 of the doubleheaders at Edmonton last month and Road America last weekend. Rookie Jonathan Summerton (No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing) won Race #2 of the Edmonton doubleheader, as well as Race #2 of the Road America doubleheader and is currently fourth in the point standings. Before Bomarito and Summerton took their second wins at Road America, different drivers won each of the first five races of the season.
* Triumphant Return: This weekend marks the return of the Atlantic Championship to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres for the first time since 2003. Over the years, a "Who's Who" of international racing talent has won Atlantic races at Trois-Rivieres, including Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve and his brother, Jacques Villeneuve, as well as Vittorio Brambilla, Michael Andretti, Roberto Moreno, Price Cobb, David Empringham, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, Buddy Rice, Michael Valiante and A.J. Allmendinger. The driver who started from the pole position has won the last nine Atlantic events at Trois-Rivieres.
* 35 Years and Counting: The 35th Anniversary celebration for the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda continues with this weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Through the years, the Atlantic series has seen more than its share of legendary drivers pass through the series on their way to greatness, from Formula 1 superstars such as Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg and Jacques Villeneuve to IndyCar racing heroes such as Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti, Danny Sullivan, Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon and Buddy Rice. This year, Atlantic graduates will compete for race victories and championships in top-tier North American series such as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Atlantic has earned the distinction of being North America's longest-running driver development series, and also one of the best.
* International Flair: This weekend's race will feature drivers representing nine different countries. The United States is best represented with a total of five drivers; followed by Canada with three; Finland, England and The Netherlands with two each; and one each from Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland and Venezuela.
* Rookies Aplenty: This weekend's field will include nine rookies. The first-year drivers are Henri Karjalainen (No. 2 GNLD), Greg Mansell (No. 5 Sunseeker), Markus Niemela (No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting), Dominick Muermans (No. 9 Hugenholtz Property Group/Jumbo Supermarkten/Muermans Group), Douglas Soares (No. 11 Banco BMG), Leo Mansell (No. 15 Sunseeker), Dane Cameron (No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing), Jonathan Summerton (No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing), Luis Schiavo (No. 46 Constructora Iriaca/Astaltatora Maracay/Transporte Jumbo/Energy Freight System) and Daniel Morad (No. 70 Metro Directories of Georgia/Grapeking).
* Past Winners: The driver who wins the races at Trois-Rivieres could very well be visiting Victory Circle for the first time in his Atlantic career. Only six drivers in the field have previously won Atlantic events: James Hinchcliffe (No. 3 Indeck/TireRack.com), Kevin Lacroix (No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco), Jonathan Bomarito (No. 26 Del Taco/RLM Investments/Stone Brewing), Simona De Silvestro (No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy), Junior Strous (No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz) and Jonathan Summerton (No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing).
GRAND PRIX DE TROIS-RIVIERES FAST FACTS
WHAT: Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres
WHERE: Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada
ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND SCHEDULE (All times local, ET): FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 - 8:45 - 9:30 a.m., Practice; 2:00 - 2:30 p.m., First Round Qualifying; SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 - 7:45 - 8:20 a.m., Practice; 11:35 a.m. - 12:05 p.m., Final Qualifying; SUNDAY, AUGUST 17 - 7:50 - 8:10 a.m. - Warm-up; 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.521-mile temporary street circuit
RACE LENGTH: 50 minutes
TRACK RECORDS (based on current layout):
Qualifying (one lap) - 8/2/03, A.J. Allmendinger, 59.296 seconds, 92.343 mph
Race (full distance) - 8/3/03, A.J. Allmendinger, 45:14.076, 90.787 mph
RACE ROUND: Round 8 of the 11-race 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda
NEXT RACE: Mazda Formula Zoom-Zoom, New Jersey Motorsports Park, September 14