Simona de Silvestro climbed to the top of the 2009 Atlantic Championship standings after claiming her second victory of the season in Sunday's half of the Mazda Formula X double-header at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
The 20-year old Swiss racer parlayed her second pole position of the season into victory, just as she did last month at Miller Motorsports Park, when she guided the #'78 Team Stargate Worlds entry to a hard-earned success under challenge from US F1 hopeful Jonathan Summerton.
Unlike her Miller victory, where she was able to drive away from the field, de Silvestro had the #19 Genoa Racing car in her mirrors throughout the 45-minute race, but was able to keep it at bay and win by 0.910secs to claim an eight-point advantage in the championship over race one winner Summerton with one third of the twelve-race season now in the books.
“I'm really happy about winning today because I worked really hard in qualifying to get pole,” de Silvestro said, “I knew that was going to give us an advantage and I got a pretty good start, so I could take the lead. It's really hard to pass here, but I knew Jonathan could maybe get a chance in traffic - sometimes I didn't get so lucky and he got a little more lucky, so he closed the gap to me, but I just could keep it in front.
"My car went off a little bit at the end, but I think it was a little bit the same for everybody. I'm really happy to have finished first today. I have to thank Team Stargate Worlds and our engineers, Burke Harrison and Gerald Tyler, for a great job all weekend.”
Summerton started second and picked up his third podium result in four races to move into second place in the standings. He took his first victory of the season - and the third of his Atlantic career - in Saturday's first race, but admitted that it was hard to do much about de Silvestro on Sunday.
“Basically, the track is very hard to pass on,” Summerton said, "You can get within seven tenths of a second of the car in front, and then you start losing downforce and a lot of issues start coming up in the corners. I knew I couldn't overtake her as far as pure speed went, with the way the traffic and everything was working for us, and with the draft and everything like that.
"Basically, I just kept pressure on her and hoped she would make a little mistake here or there, but she never really made any. It was a great job from her side. We did a great job, we had a good car, very consistent, just unlucky with the whole circumstance of not getting out front in the start.”
Frederic Vervisch made it two Genoa Racing cars in the top three with a third-place run in the #17 entry, the Belgian rookie claiming his third podium result in four career Atlantic races. This time the result came after he was docked two positions on the grid for interference during qualifying, but moved back up to third by the completion of the first lap and remained there to the chequered flag. The performance earned Vervisch an extra championship point and the $1,000 Hard Charger Bonus for improving the most positions from start to finish.