Strous Quickest in Atlantic Testing at Mont-Tremblant
Carrying the momentum of his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda podium result last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Dutch racer Junior Strous was quickest in an all-day test session on Friday at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in advance of this weekend’s Sommet des Legendes event.
Driving the No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz machine for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland, Strous posted the day’s quickest lap at 1:28.764 (106.300 mph) in the afternoon test session. Strous was also quickest during the morning session and is looking to bring Condor Motorsports a second consecutive victory at Mont-Tremblant. Last year, Franck Perera started from the pole position and led every lap en route to victory.
“I had a good day,” Strous said. “I was first in both sessions. Mont-Tremblant is one of my favorite tracks in North America. We had a good car last year when Franck Perera won, so we’ve got a good baseline setup. During the testing, we made some adjustments and we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. The weather forecast is wet, which will create a new challenge, but as I’m a European driver, I have lots of practice driving in the rain.”
Second-quickest was Carl Skerlong with a lap at 1:29.004 (106.013 mph) in the No. 14 King Taco entry for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong has been quick throughout the 2008 Atlantic season and he continued that trend on Friday at Mont-Tremblant. He heads into the weekend looking to continue his forward progress in the championship standings.
“Overall, we had a good day of testing,” Skerlong said. “There was a long break from Laguna Seca to this race, so we spent today just trying to get back up to speed. We improved in our second session from the first session’s time, staying at the top of pack. We were P1 for the first half, and moved down to P2 in the last few minutes. I’m very happy to be back in Tremblant and even happier to be in the top three today. Thanks to all the guys for all their hard work on the King Taco car today. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.”
Finnish rookie Markus Niemela was third on the testing time sheets with a best lap at 1:29.035 (105.976 mph) in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing. Niemela clocked his quick lap despite a brush with the wall in the afternoon session
“I think we are doing all right here,” said Niemela. “This is a really nice track. In the afternoon, I did only 12 laps to start with, and only five on my new-tire run and went to P2, but then I spun in Turn 11 and touched the wall a little bit. They had to check everything and I just got out when it was 15 minutes left and I improved my times a little bit, but to be honest, I was a bit careful, because I didn’t want to spin and crash the car again. For sure, it’s not an easy track. We are on the limit all the time, but it’s really fun to drive. I’m looking forward to the race.”
Fourth-quickest on the day was points leader James Hinchcliffe with a lap at 1:29.101 (105.898 mph) in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO entry for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. Hinchliffe’s lap came in the morning session and he did not participate in the afternoon session.
Local favorite Kevin Lacroix rounded out the top five in the No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco machine for Walker Racing. Lacroix, who hails from nearby Saint-Eustache, Quebec, posted a best lap at 1:29.126 (105.868 mph). Lacroix’s best lap of the day came in the afternoon session.
Eleven drivers turned laps within one second of Strous’ fastest time of the day.