Matos doubles up in Edmonton
As the car of race-leader Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc. sputtered on the final lap, Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) pounced on the opportunity and went on to claim his sixth victory in a thrilling conclusion to the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader (ESPN2, 7/23, 5:30 p.m. ET).
Matos started the race from the pole position and led into Turn 1 on the opening lap, but race officials determined that Matos blocked Perera going into the turn and ordered Matos to surrender the position to Perera. Once he assumed the lead, Perera set sail and led every lap in the race, but fuel problems on the Condor Motorsports machine began rearing their ugly head with three laps remaining. Perera did his best to hang onto the position, but with just four turns remaining on the final lap, his car slowed on course and Matos sped by to take the victory.
Matos became the first Atlantic driver to win six races in a season since Jon Fogarty also won six on his way to the 2004 Atlantic title. The Brazilian has now finished on the podium in eight of 10 starts this season and has finished inside the top six in all 10 races. It was the fourth time in five races where Matos started from the pole position that he went on to win the race, and moved him 40 points ahead of Perera, 291-251, with two races remaining in the championship. Matos could clinch the Atlantic title if his lead is 34 points or greater following next weekend’s penultimate round of the 12-race Champ Car Atlantic Championship at San Jose. Matos and Perera are the only two drivers still in mathematical contention for the title.
American Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) also found his way past Perera on the final lap and finished second, 2.561 seconds in arrears of Matos. It was Bomarito’s third podium result of the season and his best result since finishing second in Round 2 at Long Beach in April. He has finished inside the top five in five of 10 starts.
Perera wound up third and extended his streak of podium results to six consecutive races dating to a third-place run in Race #2 of the Portland doubleheader in June. The streak includes back-to-back victories at Mont-Tremblant and Toronto. He also remains as the only driver in the series to finish inside the top five in every race this season, and he again extended his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings. He leads Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) by 40 points in the rookie standings, 251-211, with two races remaining.
American Alan Sciuto (#20 WS Deans) earned his best result of the season with a fourth-place performance after starting seventh. Sciuto crossed the line in fifth-place behind rookie Adrian Carrio (#17 Carrio Cabling Company), but Carrio was disqualified when it was revealed that his car did not pass post-race technical inspection. Sciuto‘s previous best results this season were sixth in Houston and Toronto. Sciuto also earned the bonus point for running the race’s fastest lap, which he achieved on Lap 31 at 1:06.371 (107.017 mph).
J.R. Hildebrand (#36 Newman Wachs Racing) rounded out the top five. It was the rookie’s best performance since finishing second in Round 6 at Cleveland and was Hildebrand’s sixth top-nine result in 10 starts. Italian Giacomo Ricci (#18 Banca Italease/Lotto/Global) finished sixth for his fifth consecutive top-six result and maintained fifth in the overall championship standings. Canadian Kevin Lacroix (#10 Uni-Select) finished seventh, followed by 16-year-old American John Edwards (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) in eighth, Canadian James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) in ninth, and Toronto’s Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) in 10th.
• For the second consecutive race and the fourth time this season, Canadian Adrien Herberts (#45 Paladin Motorsports) claimed the bonus point for gaining the most positions from start to finish. Herberts finished 15th after starting 24th. The other races in which he earned the bonus were Mont-Tremblant and Cleveland.
• A day after matching his Atlantic career-best result with a 16th-place run in the first race of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader, rookie Richard Heistand (#37 Eola Capital Investments) posted a new career best with an 11th-place run. Heistand also finished 16th at Cleveland and returned to the series this weekend after sitting out Round 8 at Toronto.
Quotes from the top-three finishers in Race #2 of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader follow below:
FRANCK PERERA (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.) of Condor Motorsports: “I still don’t really know what happened on the last three laps, and especially on the last lap, but it was worse on the last lap. I think it was the fuel or the fuel pump, which was a problem in qualifying and at the beginning of Race #1 yesterday. I have to check with my team. It’s a big disappointment, because I had a great start and it was important to try to overtake Rafa (Matos). He also had a good start and he tried to defend his position right to left. I think that’s why he got penalized. When I was in the front, I already had a good gap. Also, after the safety car, I was able to manage my gap. It was a great race. The car was really good, and it was easy to manage my gap. I was disappointed to lose the points, and especially a victory in Canada.”
JONATHAN BOMARITO (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) of PR1 Motorsports: “It’s nice to be back up here on the podium. It feels like it’s been way too long, even though it’s been race, race, race through the summer. It was a solid race for us. We were a solid P3 car, and with some of Franck (Perera)’s engine problem or whatever the case was there, we were able to move up to second on almost the last corner of the last lap. It was pretty exciting. The car was good. We were suffering in just a couple of different corners through the track, but overall, it was very good. It was steady. My guys have been doing an awesome job and everybody has been working really hard. I’m glad to be back up here, especially for all the PR1 Motorsports guys.”
RAPHAEL MATOS (#6 ProWorks) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises: “The start was very difficult. Franck (Perera) got a little bit better start than me, and I tried to defend my position, as I’ve been doing all season, and I got penalized for it. I thought that Franck was running out of fuel. With three laps to go, he was having problems, and with two laps to go, I really closed the gap on him. He really slowed down in Turn 1 and I tried to overtake him, but he was able to defend his position. I knew that it was just a matter of time that he was going to run out of gas. I just tried to be patient, and finally, with four corners to go, he ran out of gas big time and I was able to make the pass and bring the car to Victory Lane again. I just can’t thank my team enough again. Until we finish San Jose, I can’t say anything (about the championship). Anything can happen in the championship still. We just need to make sure we do a good job in San Jose, be smart, and be quick in the qualifying sessions. That’s going to obviously help us. We need to try and finish the race in San Jose. A top five, I think, should give us the championship, hopefully.”.
FP Driver Behind Status
1 Raphael Matos 0.000 Running
2 Jonathan Bomarito 2.560 Running
3 Franck Perera 2.690 Running
4 Adrian Carrio 2.853 Running
5 Alan Sciuto 4.852 Running
6 J.R. Hildebrand 7.094 Running
7 Giacomo Ricci 13.646 Running
8 Kevin Lacroix 14.345 Running
9 John Edwards 15.108 Running
10 James Hinchcliffe 16.991 Running
11 Robert Wickens 29.021 Running
12 Richard Heistand 34.661 Running
13 Matt Lee 35.494 Running
14 Ryan Lewis 36.428 Running
15 Tom Sutherland 38.302 Running
16 Adrien Herberts 58.453 Running
17 Frankie Muniz 59.724 Running
18 Mike Forest 1:00.616 Running
19 Brian Thienes 1:05.485 Running
20 Justin Sofio 4 Laps Running
21 David Garza 7 Laps Running
22 Carl Skerlong 1 Lap Mechanical
23 Simona De Silvestro 10.262 Contact
24 Junior Strous 21.204 DNS