Already the winningest woman in Atlantic Championship series history, the woman with the most pole positions and the woman with the most laps led, Simona De Silvestro broke a tie with Katherine Legge for most wins in a single season with her fourth victory of the season and the fifth of her career in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. She also became the first woman to win a race in any class in the 40-year history of the iconic Quebec street race.
Driving the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds, the 20-year-old Swiss racer started from the pole position and led every lap to win by 0.886 seconds over John Edwards. Jonathan Summerton finished third. De Silvestro now leads the Atlantic Championship point standings by 21 points, 156-135, with three of 12 races remaining.
“We had a pretty good start and then we kind of pulled away,” De Silvestro said. “I pushed really hard the first few laps to make a gap to both John and Summerton. It was good. Then, in the middle, the (local) yellow flags were a little bit disturbing, because I couldn't see what was really happening, so I kind of had to slow down where the cautions were. I caught them, a little bit, at the wrong moments and that's, I think, where Edwards could close the gap to me. With 10 minutes to go, I was protecting my racecar because we had to finish, and we had a strong racecar.
“I want to thank my whole team for giving me such a great car this weekend. I thought we would be struggling a little bit on the street course, but apparently not. We managed pretty well and made a great car. I'm really happy. The whole Atlantic series, coming here to Three Rivers, it's exceptional because of all the fans. It's so much fun to be here and so many people kind of know you, so you feel like Formula 1 drivers. That's pretty cool. I really enjoy coming here.”
Edwards finished second in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy entry from Newman Wachs Racing. It was the sixth podium result in nine starts this season for Edwards, who rebounded nicely from a disappointing race last weekend at Mid-Ohio.
“It was a bit of a weird race,” said Edwards. “In the first half, Simona was flying and I think the closest I ever got to her was within a couple tenths on one lap, but every other lap she was between two and five tenths quicker on each lap. I think she pulled out to, I don't know, between a five- and seven-second gap. Then, in the middle of the race, I started to speed up and she started to slow down, and Jonathan made a mistake, so I had no pressure from behind. I kept pushing and knew there was a lot of race to go. I started reeling her in and I think I finished second by a second or so, so I closed the gap and was doing faster laps than her for about the second half of the race. It looked like she just had the car to beat in the beginning, but if we could have gotten pole, we could have stayed in front of her, because it's so hard to pass here. Nonetheless, it's a great day for the team. I need to thank everyone at the team and the series for putting it on. This is such a cool event at Three Rivers. The crowd's really great and it's really fun to come here. Thanks to Newman Wachs, the Atlantic series, Mazda, Cosworth and Cooper Tires. They all put on a great show here today.”
Like his Newman Wachs Racing teammate, Summerton also picked up his sixth podium in nine starts with a third-place ride in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine. It was the third top-three performance in the last four races for Summerton, who is one of the leading contenders to drive for the new U.S.-based Formula 1 team in 2010. The 21-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla. is third in the championship standings with 127 points.
“We had a great start,” Summerton said. “I think I had a better start than the two in front of me, but the problem was where we were starting. We were already on the inside of the track and I had nowhere to go to my right and, of course, to the left was John, so I kind of got boxed in there. It was kind of disappointing, because it's one of the few starts where I've had a really good one on everybody else. After all that, we had a little bit of a mistake in the middle of the stint and then we were able to run the fastest lap, so it was really good. The car felt great. It just stinks we couldn't have been there for qualifying on pole, because I think we had a car to win the race.”
Tonis Kasemets picked up his fourth top-five result in his past five starts with a fourth-place run in his No. 35 Fatburner ride for Polestar Motor Racing. The result enabled him to move back into fifth in the championship standings. Defending series champion Markus Niemela rounded out the top five in the No. 1 Ville de Trois-Rivieres/Jensen MotorSport car. It was Niemela's fourth top-five run of the season. Niemela's team owner, Toronto's Eric Jensen, was a late addition to the entry list but walked away with the $2,000 “Hard Charger” bonus. Jensen started 11th in the No. 3 Jensen MotorSport machine and finished eighth.