A wet qualifying session at Lime Rock Park, did not deter Atlantic Championship points leader Simona de Silvestro from claiming a third pole position of the season with her final qualifying lap.
Driving the #78 Team Stargate Worlds car, the Swiss driver posted a time of 59.624secs as she took the chequered flag on the 25-minute session, knocking Borja Garcia from what would have been the first pole of his Atlantic career. Instead, de Silvestro starts from P1 for the third time in five starts this season and heads into tomorrow's race looking to win, just as she did on the two previous occasions she started from pole this year.
“It was crazy, especially with the rain,” de Silvestro admitted, “We started with a new set of rain tyres, so it took a long while to get grip. I caught traffic at the end, so I was really nervous, but I could put one lap together on the last lap. It was just a perfect lap. I really have to thank the whole Stargate team, because they were running around just before the session because they didn't know what to do with the cars. I really want to thank [engineer] Burke Harrison, too, for giving me a car like this every weekend. I hope we can keep it like this tomorrow and win tomorrow. I'm really excited.”
Despite de Silvestro's last-lap flyer, Garcia still picked up the best qualifying result of his young Atlantic career and will start second in the #6 Condor Motorsports entry. The Spanish rookie is currently fifth in the championship standings and will be looking to improve upon a previous best result of third - from the first race of last month's double-header at New Jersey Motorsports Park - in tomorrow's race at Lime Rock.
“Until the last lap, I was on pole, but, on the last lap, Simona was faster by three tenths,” Garcia said, “We'll see tomorrow, because today, in the dry conditions, the car is good, and also in the wet. I'm starting on the front row, I don't have anybody in front, and we'll see what happens on the start and also in the race. It's a long race. I'm really confident, because I think finally my team and I have a good setup for this race and this car. I hope to continue in this way.”
Starting third for the fourth time in five races will be Frederic Vervisch's #17 Genoa Racing car. The Belgian leads the rookie of the year standings by 20 points over Garcia and has finished on the podium in three of his first four series starts, although is still looking for his first career Atlantic victory.
“It was okay,” Vervisch said, “We were on the front row the whole time. The car was actually quite good, and we improved it in the rain from last time in New Jersey. It suited me well. It's only a shame that on the last lap, I went off at the chicane. Otherwise, I think P1 was for sure possible, but we will see how it will work tomorrow. It's again P3, so I'm getting used to it. We will do our best for tomorrow.”
Defending series champion Markus Niemela acquitted himself well in his first appearance aboard the #1 Jensen MotorSport machine, posting the fourth-quickest qualifying time, having finished fourth in both of last months Atlantic starts at New Jersey while driving for Newman Wachs Racing.
His former team-mate, John Edwards, rounded out the top five, ahead of new team-mate Jonathan Summerton's #34 entry, as the top six drivers in the session turned laps within one second of de Silvestro's pole-winning time.