Jonathan Bomarito took a big step forward in his quest to be champion of the 2008 Atlantic Championship with a dominating victory in the Grand-Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
After starting from the pole position in his #26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments machine for Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito got away clean on the race's standing start and was never seriously challenged, leading every lap of the 44-lap race to score his third victory of the season and the fifth of his Atlantic career. He won by 1.590 seconds over American rookie Jonathan Summerton, who he now leads by 28 points, 191-163, in the championship standings with three races remaining.
Although Sunday's race was the first for Atlantic on the legendary 1.521-mile street circuit in Quebec since 2003, Bomarito became the 10th consecutive polesitter to win in Atlantic competition at Trois-Rivieres.
“First of all, I can't tell you how thankful I am and happy to keep that streak alive, that's for sure,” said Bomarito. “It was an amazing weekend. It was perfect for us, both qualifying sessions and the race. The guys were telling me on the radio my gaps and also where James (Hinchcliffe) and Markus (Niemela) were. James went out and then Markus went out a little bit later in the race. I think we were within seven or eight points before the race and now to be leading by 28 points is huge with only three races to go. It refocuses how we have to approach these last three races, but realistically, as long as we're quick and continue to do what we're doing, and the car keeps living like it is - the guys keep doing an amazing job - we'll be okay at the end of the championship.”
Summerton moved to second in the overall point standings and the Rookie of the Year points lead with his second-place performance. It was Summerton's third top-two result in his past four starts and was his sixth top-six result in eight races this season. He gained two spots in the point standings this weekend, and earned a bonus point for running the fastest lap in the race.
“It turned out to be a very fun race in the end,” Summerton said. “With the two yellows, it didn't quite help us as we'd planned. I don't know if we started with a little too low tyre pressure, but every time a yellow came out, the first two or three laps were a real fight with the car. Then, the tyres started to come in again and we were able to lay down some fast laps and start catching Jonathan (Bomarito). In the end, he was constantly very fast and had a great car. We were just trying to push away and it didn't quite work out, but second place, we're quite happy with it. To take over Rookie of the Year point standings is a great accomplishment. I'm real happy about that and hopefully we can bring a win back from New Jersey.”
Dutchman Junior Strous returned to the podium for the first time since winning at Mont-Tremblant in June with a third-place run in the #6 NEM/Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz entry for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland. It was the third podium result of the season for Strous and moved him back into the top five in the point standings heading into the final three races of the season.
“Obviously, I'm really happy with this,” Strous said. “After Mont-Tremblant, I thought, 'Well, we've got it now.' I kept working really hard, but Edmonton was really bad and Road America was really bad for us, but I always finished. We had some engine problems in Edmonton in both races. This weekend, we were struggling again. We didn't really have the speed. We tried to minimise the damage in qualifying. I started eighth and I knew it was going to be a tough race, because the walls are really close here, it's slippery off-line, and everybody wants to win here. You can do it. If you're a bit further back, you can advance quite well, you can pass really well. The car was really good. I'd like to thank the team.
“Everybody worked hard the last few weeks and months to get it all back together again. It's a podium finish and with all these guys that dropped out of the race, I think we're doing pretty good (in the championship). Jonathan (Bomarito) was really quick this race. He did a really good job. I'm looking forward to the next race. We've got a little time off. I'm heading back to Holland. Again, I'd like to thank the team and all my sponsors, Shell, HTP and NEM for their support, and especially (Condor Motorsports team owner) Carlos Bobeda.”