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FA: de Silvestro extends lead with Trois-Rivieres win

17 August 2009

Series leader Simona de Silvestro became the most prolific female driver in the 36-year history of the Atlantic Championship after taking victory in the prestigious Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.

Already the most successful woman in series history, the woman with the most pole positions and the woman with the most laps led, de Silvestro broke a tie with Katherine Legge for most wins in a single season by taking a fourth victory of 2009 and the fifth of her career. 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 #78 Team Stargate Worlds Swift, the 20-year old Swiss racer started from pole position and led every lap to win by 0.886secs over John Edwards. With Jonathan Summerton finishing third, de Silvestro now leads the point standings by 21, with three of twelve races remaining.

“We had a pretty good start and then we kind of pulled away,” she said, “I pushed really hard the first few laps to make a gap to both John and Summerton but, then, in the middle, the 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 ten minutes to go, though, I was protecting my car because we had to finish.

"We had a strong racecar, and 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."

Edwards finished second for the sixth podium result in nine starts this season, rebounding nicely from a disappointing race last weekend at Mid-Ohio.

“It was a bit of a weird race,” the Newman Wachs driver said, “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 - every other lap, she was between two and five tenths quicker on each lap. I think she pulled out, 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.”

Like his Newman Wachs team-mate, Summerton also picked up his sixth podium in nine starts with a third-place ride in the #34 machine, but his hopes of landing the title took a hit after admitting that he really needed to win each of the final four rounds.

“We had a great start,” Summerton said, “In fact, 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, but then we were able to run the fastest lap, so it was really good. The car felt great. It just stinks that 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 #35 Polestar entry, moving back into fifth in the standings, while defending series champion Markus Niemela rounded out the top five for Jensen MotorSport. Frankie Muniz and James Winslow were next up, while Niemela's team owner, Eric Jensen, was a late addition to the entry but walked away with the $2000 'Hard Charger' bonus after moving from eleventh to eighth.


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