De Silvestro Takes Over Points Lead with New Jersey Victory
Twenty-year-old Swiss racer Simona De Silvestro climbed to the top of the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda point standings with her second victory of the season in Sunday’s second race of the Mazda Formula X presented by Cooper Tires weekend doubleheader at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Driving the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry for Team Stargate Worlds, De Silvestro parlayed her second pole position of the season into the victory, just as she did last month at Miller Motorsports Park. Unlike the race at Miller, however, where De Silvestro drove away from the field from the moments the lights went out for the standing start, De Silvestro had a good view of Jonathan Summerton in the No. 19 Barker Specialty/Geller Group/Genoa Racing in her mirrors throughout the 45-minute race.
While Summerton kept the pressure on, however, De Silvestro was more than equal to the task of keeping him at bay and went on to win by 0.910 seconds. It was her third career Atlantic Championship victory and it gave her an eight-point lead in the championship standings over Summerton, 68-60, with one third of the 12-race season now in the books.
“I’m really happy about winning today because I worked really hard in qualifying to get pole,” De Silvestro said. “I knew that was going to give us an advantage in the start. I got a pretty good start, so I could take the lead. It’s really hard to pass, but I knew Jonathan could maybe get a chance in traffic. I didn’t get so lucky sometimes in traffic and he got a little more lucky, so he kind of closed the gap to me. I just could keep it in front. My car went off a little bit at the end, but I think it was a little bit the same for everybody. I’m really happy to have finished first today. I have to thank Team Stargate Worlds and our engineers, Burke Harrison and Gerald Tyler, for a great job all weekend.”
Summerton started second and picked up his third podium result in four races to move into the second in the point standings. He took his first victory of the season and the third of his Atlantic career in Saturday’s first race of the Mazda Formula X doubleheader.
“Basically, the track is very hard to pass on,” Summerton said. You can get within seven tenths of a second of the car in front, and then you start losing downforce and a lot of issues start coming up in the corners. I knew I couldn’t overtake her as far as pure speed went with the way the traffic and everything was working for us, and with the draft and everything like that. Basically, I just kept pressure on her and hoped she would make a little mistake here or there, but she never really made any. It was a great job from her side. We did a great job, we had a good car, very consistent, just unlucky with the whole circumstance of not getting out front in the start.”
Frederic Vervisch made it two Genoa Racing cars in the top three with a third-place run in the No. 17 Roularta/Isomo/Genoa entry. It was the Belgian rookie’s third podium result in four career Atlantic races and came after he was docked two positions on the starting grid for interference during qualifying. He started fifth as a result of the penalty, but moved up to third by the completion of the first lap and remained there to the checkered flag. The performance earned Vervisch an extra championship point and the $1,000 Hard Charger Bonus for improving the most positions from start to finish.
“I was punished and I had to start fifth instead of third, so I tried to have a good start,” Vervisch said. “My start was okay, but not the greatest start. Then, I could pass (Borja) Garcia in Turn 1 and Markus (Niemela) had a fight with Jonathan (Summerton) and I was quite lucky to pass him (Niemela) without damage. I just tried to follow the two first guys and see what happened, because it’s really difficult to overtake. I had the pace and I was close behind Jonathan. I lost some downforce on the front end and I understeered and put my left wheel in the grass in Turn 9, I think. Then, I struggled to get back on track and I lost a lot of time. The only thing I could do was try to come back. I did some good lap times and I was a bit faster, but the traffic was probably not in their advantage, but definitely also not in mine. I lost also some time with that. It’s good to be back on podium, so I’m happy.”
Defending series champion Markus Niemela picked up his second fourth-place result in as many days in the No. 1 Mr. Jones/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NWR machine for Newman Wachs Racing. Spanish rookie Borja Garcia completed the top five with a fifth-place outing in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us machine for Condor Motorsports. Garcia finished third on Saturday.
• Michael Mallinen again took the C2 class victory in the No. 71 Mallinen Properties entry for Swan Racing without opposition. It was Mallinen’s third straight C2 victory.
“At the start, we had a couple of guys in the other class in mind to try to take. That’s something I’ve wanted to do and I tried yesterday. I had a bad start. I messed up the start and got gapped on Lap 1, and then the rest of it was just trying to run consistent laps with a good lap time to try to wait for the field to come in. I just kept going and just went through the end.”
• After entering the weekend as the points leader, No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy driver John Edwards now finds himself third in the championship standings with four of 12 races complete. The Newman Wachs Racing driver finished sixth today after finishing fifth on Saturday. He is now five points behind second-place Summerton and 13 in arrears of points leader De Silvestro.
• For the first time this season, every car in the field was running at the finish. It was the first time that has happened since the penultimate round of the 2008 season at Miller Motorsports Park.
1. (1) Simona De Silvestro, Switzerland, No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds, 38.
2. (2) Jonathan Summerton, Kissimmee, Fla., No. 19 Genoa Racing, 38.
3. (5) Frederic Vervisch (R), Belgium, No. 17 Genoa Racing, 38.
4. (3) Markus Niemela, Finland, No. 1 Newman Wachs Racing, 38.
5. (4) Borja Garcia (R), Spain, No. 6 Condor Motorsports, 38.
6. (6) John Edwards, Cincinnati, Ohio, No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing, 38.
7. (7) Tonis Kasemets, Estonia, No. 35 Polestar Motor Racing, 38.
8. (8) Frankie Muniz, Scottsdale, Ariz., No. 77 Team Stargate Worlds, 38.
9. (10) James Winslow (R), United Kingdom, No. 18 Genoa Racing, 38.
10. (9) David Garza, Mexico, No. 2 Jensen MotorSport, 38.
11. (11) Max Lefevre (R), France, No. 7 Condor Motorsports, 37.
12. (13) Richard Zober, Newtown, Pa., No. 66 Polestar Motor Racing, 36.
13. (12) Michael Nacol (R), Houston, Texas, No. 3 Jensen MotorSport, 35.
14. (14) Michael Mallinen, Liberty Lake, Wash., No. 71 Swan Racing, 35.
(R) Series Rookie
Time of Race: 46:04.908
Average Speed: 82.460 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.910 seconds
Lap leaders: De Silvestro, 1-38.
Lead changes: None.
Unofficial Series Points Leaders: 1. De Silvestro, 68; 2. Summerton, 60; 3. Edwards, 55; 4. Vervisch, 52; 5. Garcia and Kasemets, 32; 7. Niemela, 31; 8. Muniz, 29; 9. Winslow, 23; 10. Lefevre, 13.
Next Race: Lime Rock Park – Saturday, July 18.