CHAMPCAR/CART: Tasman Toronto Preview

Tasman Motorsports Group Current Team News Silicon Valley North -- The San Jose of Canada When you think of the automobile industry, most people think of Detroit, Michigan; the oil industry, Texas; finance, Wall Street; and high technology,...

Tasman Motorsports Group Current Team News

Silicon Valley North -- The San Jose of Canada

When you think of the automobile industry, most people think of Detroit, Michigan; the oil industry, Texas; finance, Wall Street; and high technology, San Jose, California -- Silicon Valley. But there's a new kid in town looking to get on the map in the high tech community.

When the 13th-running of the Molson Indy kicks off this weekend in Toronto, the #21 LCI Reynard-Honda piloted by leading Rookie of the Year candidate Tony Kanaan will fly the logo of Canada's 'San Jose' -- dubbed Silicon Valley North.

The region encompasses the greater Ottawa area with the city of Kanata being recognized locally as the "hub". In addition to team sponsor Mitel Semiconductor -- one of the world's 10 leading manufacturers of integrated circuits for networking and telecommunication uses, there are several significant high tech companies in the city including Nortel, Newbridge, Cognos, JDSFitel and Jetform to name a few.

Mitel Semiconductor is leading the charge to attract attention -- and employees -- to this sector of technology. "We want to do our part to put Silicon Valley North on the global high tech map," said Glenn Stanley, Vice President, Mitel Semiconductor. "We want to make sure the world knows this is the region to watch."

Toronto Rules

This cosmopolitan city is a favorite amongst drivers and teams alike, and Tony Kanaan is no exception.

"This will be my third trip to Toronto and I look forward to this weekend each year," said Kanaan. "I had dinner at the top of the CN Tower for the first time last year, and it was incredible. It has become one of my favorite places to eat.

"This is a good track for me as well. I was on the pole for the Indy Lights race last year and finished second. It's a road course and I love road courses."

Where's the Podium?

Tasman Motorsports has visited the victory podium five times during its six years of competition at the Molson Indy held at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The team has scored three Indy Lights wins (Bryan Herta '93, Steve Robertson '94 and Helio Castro-Neves '97), one Champ Car victory (Adrian Fernandez '96) and a third-place finish (Andre Ribeiro '97) on the 1.721-mile temporary street course.

"We have always managed to do well at Toronto and I hope that continues," said team owner Steve Horne. "It's a good track with a very enthusiastic crowd. It's a fun event."

Midseason Madness

Ten of 19 events on the 1998 FedEx Championship Series schedule are now in the history books. Despite not finishing three events, Kanaan's five top-10 finishes have earned him a 12th-place ranking in the point standings and a ten-point lead in the Rookie of the Year challenge. The current point standings following the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland are as follows:

1. Alex Zanardi  155 points
7. Gil de Ferran  63 points    2. Greg Moore   96 points
8. Scott Pruett  56 points     3. Jimmy Vasser   92 points
9. Bryan Herta  54 points     4. Adrian Fernandez  85 points
10. Bobby Rahal  43 points    5. Michael Andretti  68 points
11. Al Unser Jr.  40 points    6. Dario Franchitti  64 points
12. Tony Kanaan  39 points

The PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship is now past the midpoint of its racing season with eight of 14 events completed, and Cristiano da Matta continues his command of the championship. The 24-year-old talent has five podium finishes to date including two wins. Teammate Airton Dare has six top-ten finishes and a win at Detroit, and currently sits in fourth position. The current point standings for the Indy Lights championship crown are:

1. Cristiano da Matta  92 points
4. Airton Dare  57 points         2. Guy Smith   60 points
5. Didier Andre  57 points     3.   Felipe Giaffone  58 points
6. Derek Higgins  55 points

Going Home

Rich Howard, chief mechanic for PPG-Dayton Indy Lights points-leader Cristiano da Matta, grew up in Toronto. Born in Seattle, Washington, Howard spent 17 years in Toronto where his family still resides. Howard is in his third season with the Tasman team and was crew chief for Helio Castro-Neves during the 1996 and 1997 Indy Lights seasons.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Guy Smith , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Didier André , Airton Daré , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Derek Higgins , Steve Horne , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , Steve Robertson , Cristiano da Matta