Zwolsman pulls off sensational lap to win pole

As if overcoming mechanical problems wasn’t enough, rookie Charles Zwolsman (#11 Landtran Systems/Boychuk Transport) also conquered a wet track Saturday in Edmonton to earn his fourth career pole position in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

The Dutch driving sensation recovered from a damaged suspension on his car suffered in Friday’s opening round of qualifying at the 1.973-mile Finning International Speedway airport road course and rallied for a blistering lap of 1:07.628 (105.028 mph). The impressive time, posted by Zwolsman with just one minute left in today’s final round of qualifying, established a new Atlantic course record on the track in Edmonton that is new to the series schedule this season.

Even more impressive than the dramatic timing of Zwolsman’s pole winning performance was the fact that it came on a green race track that was still drying from a torrential downpour this morning that left standing water on the 14-turn race circuit. Track conditions continued to improve throughout the qualifying session as the skies began to clear, but lap times for nearly all competitors were significantly slower than Friday’s qualifying marks in Edmonton. Only five drivers improved their times from Friday in the changing track conditions and Zwolsman was the only driver among the top eight qualifiers to better their effort from yesterday.

After pacing Friday’s session with a fast lap of 1:07.678 (104.950 mph), Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil) wound up fifth in today’s session. But the Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis driver will start second in Sunday’s Napa Auto Parts Presents the Toyota Atlantic Challenge of Edmonton (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel – Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. ET) based on his provisional pole winning time from yesterday.

Kasemets has now qualified among the top five in seven consecutive events this season, but he continues to chase Zwolsman in the series championship standings. With the point earned for winning the pole today, Zwolsman now leads Kasemets 187-180 in the battle for the 2005 Atlantic title.

Polestar Racing Group driver Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) completed her top qualifying effort of her rookie season by carding a fast lap of 1:07.826 (104.721 mph). That time was established in Friday’s opening round of qualifying, but the speedy Brit backed it up today with the second-fastest lap behind Zwolsman. The winner of the season-opening race in Long Beach, Legge will start third on Sunday.

Final Edmonton qualifying results with car number in parentheses, driver, type of car, top time and speed:
1. (11) Charles Zwolsman, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, *1:07.628, 105.028 mph*.
2. (6) Tonis Kasemets, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:07.678 104.950 mph.
3. (12) Katherine Legge, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:07.826, 104.721 mph.
4. (3) Antoine Bessette, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:07.846, 104.690 mph.
5. (8) Andreas Wirth, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:07.978, 104.487 mph.
6. (10) Al Unser III, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:09.026, 102.900 mph.
7. (7) David Martinez, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:09.794, 101.768 mph.
8. (2) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:11.229, 99.718 mph.
9. (63) Daryl Leiski, (C2)Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:12.724, 97.668 mph.
10. (15) Justin Sofio, (C2)Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:13.290, 96.914 mph.
11. (9) Dan Cobb, (C2)Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:14.097, 95.858 mph.
12. (18) Bob Siska, (C2)Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:15.002, 94.701 mph.
13. (56) Chris Souliotis, Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:15.863, 93.627 mph.
14. (21) Roger Glover, (C2)Toyota/Swift/Yokohama, 1:16.836, 92.441 mph.
* Represents new Atlantic course record

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