Despite dwindling numbers in an already slim field, organisers have confirmed that the Atlantic Championship will again team up with the American Le Mans Series and be sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association in 2010.
While the 2010 schedule is still being finalised, Atlantic supporters have been told to expect a calendar similar to that seen in 2009, renewing its partnership with the ALMS that saw it sharing centre stage on four weekends. The two series will be on the same card three more times this year, including this weekend at Mosport International Raceway, at Road Atlanta next month and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October to close out the year.
“The Atlantic Championship has firmly established itself as the top rung of the open wheel developmental ladder,” ALMS president and CEO Scott Atherton claimed, perhaps overlooking the burgeoning Indy Lights competition, “The series has a rich history of developing many of today's top professional drivers, and the American Le Mans Series looks forward to being involved with its future growth and continued success.”
This year's Atlantic schedule also featured 'headline' events at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Autobahn Country Club and the iconic Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres street circuit but, in addition to finalising the schedule, Atlantic officials are also working diligently on plans for television coverage of the 2010 championship.
“As we begin to wind down our 2009 championship, we are also working full speed ahead on 2010,” series president Ben Johnston confirmed, “We are delighted to continue alongside the American Le Mans Series next year, with sanctioning from IMSA, as the ALMS races remain the best-attended road racing events in North America, and are contested at many classic road courses on this continent. As a road racing championship, it only makes sense for us to continue to align our series with the American Le Mans Series.”
While the series continues to be owned and operated by Johnston and his staff, the Atlantic Championship will continue to be conducted under the IMSA Code, which establishes and oversees event, participant and safety parameters and conduct, as well as governing rules for each of its sanctioned series. As part of the agreement, IMSA will also continue to provide timing and scoring to the series, as it has throughout the 2009 season. IMSA first sanctioned the Atlantic Championship in 1976 and has sanctioned the current championship since 2008.
“Like IMSA, the Atlantic Championship is a series with great history and we are proud to continue our relationship into 2010,” confirmed vice-president Scot Elkins, “All involved in the Atlantic Championship are consummate professionals and it is a pleasure to work with everybody in the series - from the drivers and teams to the sponsors and series officials. Atlantic remains one of the most important driver development series in the world.”
The 2009 series continues with Sunday's tenth round at Mosport, with Simona de Silvestro leading the standings by 21 points over John Edwards.