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FA: de Silvestro claims first Atlantic pole.


Simona de Silvestro enjoyed a fairly comfortable lead over her rivals in Friday's two practice sessions for the second round of the Atlantic Championship at Miller Motorsports Park, and continued that form into qualifying to secure a first career pole position for Sunday's race.

The cushion wasn't quite as comfortable second time around, however, as the Team Stargate Worlds driver found herself in a battle for the pole position with Sebring top dog Jonathan Summerton throughout the 30-minute session. Just as the chequered flag fell to end the session, though, de Silvestro knocked Summerton off the top of the times with a 1min 36.891secs effort, earn the pole for the Larry H Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix.

de Silvestro is the second woman in Atlantic Championship history to win a pole position, following IndyCar star Danica Patrick - who claimed her lone series pole at Portland in 2004 - and is already the second woman to win an Atlantic race, after Katherine Legge, having tasted victory - like the Briton - at Long Beach last season.

“It was a hard session because we caught a little bit of traffic,” de Silvestro reported, “I was kind of freaking out in the middle of it, because I had to gap myself. I was saying 'maybe you're going to run out of time', but we got it in - thank God. Team Stargate Worlds just did an awesome job. The car is just perfect, and I think we're going to be really good for the race tomorrow.”

Summerton came up just 0.042secs short of taking his third consecutive Atlantic pole, setting a best lap at 1min 36.891secs in the #19 Genoa Racing entry. The Florida resident started the 2009 season opener at Long Beach from top spot, having closed out the 2008 campaign at Road Atlanta with the first pole of his Atlantic career. He has now qualified on the front row for his last four Atlantic races, and five of his past six, dating back to a second-place start at Trois-Rivieres last year. He finished third in the '09 opener at Sebring and is looking for his fourth career Atlantic victory on Sunday.

“I'm excited to be on the front row, at least,” Summerton said, “Hopefully, we'll have a good start. Last time, we had a little bit of a problem with the clutch in Sebring, but here I think we've got it down pat. I know we have a car that's quick and I know we can win the race as long as we get out front.”

Summerton starts one position ahead of Genoa Racing team-mate Frederic Vervisch, the Belgian again impressing in the #17 machine and posting a best lap of 1min 37.214secs to earn his second third-place start in as many races.

“It was not an easy session,” Vervisch, who finished second at Sebring, admitted, “Yesterday, we were also third in the last practice, but we still had some time to gain on Simona, so we tried quite a lot of things and they didn't all work like we thought they would. It was not an easy session, but I have to be happy with third place. It's a good position to start. The race is long and I think it will be interesting. We definitely have our plan to finish the race as high as possible.”

Newman Wachs Racing occupies the next two spots on the grid, with Sebring race winner John Edwards fourth and defending series - and race - champion Markus Niemela in fifth, although the Finn missed the final few minutes of the session due to an off-course excursion at turn seven.

The top six qualifiers all posted times within one second of de Silvestro's pole-winning lap, with Tonis Kasemets completing the group on his debut with Genoa. de Silvestro's team-mate Frankie Muniz heads those that just missed the mark, taking seventh for the Stargate Worlds outfit and lining up ahead of Borja Garcia and James Winslow - the latter having inked a last-gasp deal with Jensen MotorSport after debuting with the now absent Conquest Racing at Sebring. Condor's Max Lefevre rounds out the top ten, ahead of Michael Nacol and lone C2 runner Michael Mallinen.


Related Pictures

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Simona de Silvestro - Team Stargate Worlds
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates capturing the pole with the fastest lap Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four Penske Chevrolet`s were the fastest in qualifying and Chevrolet had the five fastest cars. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 captures the pole with the fastest lap Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four Penske Chevrolet`s were the fastest in qualifying and Chevrolet had the five fastest cars. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 captures the pole with the fastest lap Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four Penske Chevrolet`s were the fastest in qualifying and Chevrolet had the five fastest cars. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 captures the pole with the fastest lap Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four Penske Chevrolet`s were the fastest in qualifying and Chevrolet had the five fastest cars. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fifth fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Montoya is leading the Driver`s Championship in points heading into this final race of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates after qualifying fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power, the 2014 Champion Driver, has an outside chance to repeat during this final race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates after qualifying fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power, the 2014 Champion Driver, has an outside chance to repeat during this final race of the season. (Photo by Sam Cobb/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power, the 2014 Champion Driver, has an outside chance to repeat during this final race of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Justin Wilson speaks with Oriol Servia in pit lane (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates capturing the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 22, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 22, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 22, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 22, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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