Vervisch Runs Quickest Lap in Practice Day
Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch posted what would be the quickest lap of the day on Friday morning in preparation for Sunday’s Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in the first official on-track activity for Atlantic machines at Mosport International Raceway in 15 years.
Vervisch posted a best lap at 1:10.460 (125.637 mph) in the No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki machine for Genoa Racing. It was the first time he had led a session since the season-opening weekend at Sebring International Raceway in March. The current leader in the Rookie of the Year point standings was fourth quickest in the day’s second practice session on Friday afternoon.
“It went quite good,” said Vervisch following the morning session. “It’s good to be back first. I haven’t been first since the beginning of the year in the first practice. The car feels really good and it’s a challenging track, so it’s interesting to play with everything. I’m really happy we’re there. Qualifying will be important. This doesn’t mean a lot, so we have to focus on qualifying, but it looks okay.”
Second quickest on the day and fastest in afternoon practice was Jonathan Summerton in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI entry for Newman Wachs Racing. Summerton’s best lap of the day was a 1:10.571 (125.440 mph) in the afternoon session. He is currently third in the championship and is looking for his third victory of the season this weekend.
“We’re trying different things and trying new things,” Summerton said. “We tried a few new things and those things worked. Once we put it all together for qualifying, I think we’ll definitely be good.”
Summerton was just a tick ahead of his Newman Wachs Racing teammate, John Edwards, in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine. Edwards turned a best lap at 1:10.579 (125.425 mph) in the afternoon session, which was his quickest of the day. He is currently second in the championship standings to Simona De Silvestro, who leads by a count of 156-135. De Silvestro ended the day with the fifth-quickest lap at 1:10.969 (124.736 mph) in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies for Team Stargate Worlds.
“As a team, the (afternoon) practice session couldn’t have gone better,” Edwards said. “We ended 1-2 and I think only a couple of thousandths (of a second) apart. Hopefully, it will stay that way for qualifying and Jonathan and I can fight each other for pole. The important thing is, I think Simona (De Silvestro) wasn’t in the top three or even top for, so that’s good for us for the championship. But knowing them, I’m sure they’ve learned something today and will probably improve tomorrow, but we’re hoping to stay 1-2 tomorrow.”
Fourth quickest on the day and third quickest in the afternoon session was defending series champion Markus Niemela in the No. 1 Jensen MotorSport entry. Niemela’s best lap came in the morning session at 1:10.959 (124.754 mph), putting him fourth in that session. He was third in the afternoon at 1:11.033 (124.624 mph).
“I’m quite pleased with that,” said Niemela following the afternoon session. “Top two is quite far away, which is a little bit disappointing because in the previous run, I was fourth but really close to the top two. I can’t complain, really. We’ve been getting better and better all the time with the team. This is the coolest track I have ever been on in my whole life, so I’m enjoying every minute of it. On top of that, we are top three. I can be pleased with that this year.”
Seven drivers turned laps within one second of Vervisch’s quickest time of the day. The lone on-track activity for the Atlantic Championship on Saturday is qualifying, which runs from 12:05 to 12:35 p.m. Sunday’s 45-minute timed race rolls off from a standing start beginning at 11:55 a.m.