Toronto: Canadians well represented

Round five of the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season marks the first of three races to be held in Canada, with round 7 in Vancouver and the season finale taking place in Montreal. All three events will run in conjunction with the CART/FedEx ...

Round five of the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series season marks the first of three races to be held in Canada, with round 7 in Vancouver and the season finale taking place in Montreal. All three events will run in conjunction with the CART/FedEx Championship Series. Three Canadian drivers -- Dan Di Leo, Josh Beaulieu, and Mike Richardson --are slated to be racing in front their home crowd this weekend. The North-of-the-border set is looking forward to racing in front of their countrymen and elevating the profile of Canadian drivers.

Only Di Leo has raced at the Toronto street circuit before, in 2001, when he made his Barber Dodge Pro Series debut at the daunting concrete-lined track. The Markham, Ontario, native had a difficult weekend last year due to limited time in the Pro Series car before he took to the circuit. He is happy, though, now to have had that experience to draw upon, and will now have an advantage on those who have not raced at the track before. Di Leo, who is coming off a career-best Barber Dodge finish of second place in Portland, is looking forward to racing in Toronto and he expects to benefit from his now extensive seat time in the Pro Series 98E racecar.

"Last year was tough here, as I had a battle getting to terms with the car," said Di Leo."But now I have so much more time in the car, knowing what to do set up wise should really help. This is the first track that we are racing on this year that I have been to before. Hopefully that will give me an advantage, because basically now I have no excuses. With a year under my belt, I feel good in the car and I am confident of finishing in the top five. This series is so competitive that you have to have a weekend where everything goes right to finish up there. My confidence is high and my expectations are even higher."

Josh Beaulieu of Langly, B.C., Canada, who carries the number 27 made famous by Canadian racing legend Gilles Villenuve, is also looking forward to racing in front of his countrymen. Beaulieu has never been to the Toronto circuit and has been preparing for the race by watching in-car footage and studying the engineering data from last year. He hopes to get up to speed as quickly as possible once he gets into the car for the first practice session this Friday.

"It's going to be really exciting to be racing in Canada," said Beaulieu."I have had some success on street courses before, so I am hoping I can learn this track quickly and find the limit in the car and get up front. A track like Toronto requires that you do a lot more risk management than a track like Laguna Seca or Portland. There is no run-off except for the wall, and you have to be a fraction of a percentage more reserved to stay out of trouble."

The Toronto race weekend will be Kelowana, B.C., native Mike Richardson's first exposure to racing on a temporary street track. Like many of his competitors, he has also been pouring over all the engineering data available to him to get to know the track, as well as using some electronic aids to help him get up to speed.

"I bought a PlayStation 2 to get an idea of the track so I can visualize better," said Richardson."I just hope I can be as good in the car as I have been at PS2! It is difficult, though, because until you get there, its tough to really get a feel for where you are doing all your braking, steering and everything else. The learning curve on this track is going to be really steep, and we only have so much time on track to get everything right. For me, the nice thing about this Toronto race is that I can get some street course experience here before we race close to home in Vancouver."

The Barber Dodge Pro Series race will start at 11:00 a.m. this Sunday. Full results and coverage will be available at www.barberdodge.com.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Josh Beaulieu , Mike Richardson