They've fought each other tooth and nail over the last five months for the top position in the series standings and this weekend Charles Zwolsman and Tonis Kasemets will do battle one more time to determine who the champion of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship.

It's certainly fitting that the two competitors that have claimed the most wins and series pole positions this season will fight it out for the title and it also seems strangely appropriate that the championship fight comes down to the final round as the pair square off at the Molson Indy Montreal Atlantic race on Sunday.

With a convincing flag-to-flag victory last weekend at Road America, Kasemets ensured that the championship would be decided at this weekend's season finale. He produced the maximum amount of points available in the penultimate round of competition (35) and he also needed Zwolsman to struggle - something that hasn't happened much in the Dutchman's magical rookie season - in order to have shot in Montreal. With Zwolsman coming home sixth in his first experience racing at Road America, Kasemets converted his third series pole into his third victory of the season, drawing to within 26 points (287-261) of his series rival with one race to go.

Kasemets, the 31-year-old second-year Atlantic driver, knows he's got another mountain of points to climb in order to catch Zwolsman, who also has three wins and leads the series with five poles this season. Both drivers are also aware, however, that anything can happen on the fast and challenging 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road circuit. Neither Zwolsman or Kasemets has raced on the tough track before and while all eyes will be focused on the only two racers in the field that can win the crown, both title hopefuls will be dueling it out with some talented competition that has experience at the track and has a lot at stake in where they finish in the championship standings.

Canada's Antoine Bessette, who won earlier this year on home soil in Toronto, competed at the classic road circuit in the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series event. His race experience didn't last long as he exited due to contact on his first lap, but he does know the course well and the native of nearby St. Bruno, Quebec that currently sits fourth in the series standings would like nothing better than to end the season on the Victory Podium at his home track.

Although she hasn't raced at Montreal before, Katherine Legge, Bessette's Polestar Racing Group team-mate, will also be looking for a solid close to the 2005 season. She's re-written the record books this season as the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. Currently third in points after her fifth podium of the season last weekend in Road America, Legge already has one Canadian win to her credit this season with a victory in Edmonton to go along with trips to Victory Circle in Long Beach and San Jose.

One driver who might've figured in the championship battle if it weren't for an unfortunate accident last weekend, Andreas Wirth, will be missing from the Atlantic line-up in Montreal. Wirth suffered minor fractures to two of his vertebrae in a late morning warm-up crash on race day in Road America. The German rookie, who was second in the point standings and poised to start second in last Sunday's event at the time of the crash, was unable to race with his injuries and will not compete this weekend. With two top-five finishes at Montreal last season en route to his Formula BMW USA championship, Wirth certainly would have been one to watch this weekend.

Mexico's David Martinez arrives in Montreal as one of the hottest drivers in the championship and he also carries a Montreal racing resume into this weekend's action. Martinez has finished on the podium in three of the last five events, including a third-place result last weekend, and he qualified fourth in the 2003 Barber Dodge race in Montreal before his day ended early due to contact. Look for Martinez to run at the front of the pack as he tries to improve on his sixth-place standing in the championship before the final chequered flag of '05.

Young American racers Al Unser III and Kyle Kelley have also been coming on strong as of late. Unser, 22, equalled his career-best finish of fourth place at Road America and he's another driver that's tested the limits of the Villeneuve circuit. He earned his top result of his rookie Atlantic season at the venue, finishing eighth, and he also competed in the '03 Barber Dodge race. Kelley, the 20-year-old California-based racer, earned his second top-five result of the season at Road America when he soared from an eleventh-place starting spot to finish fifth. Kelley will see his first action at Montreal at the Molson Indy.

In the Yokohama Tire C2 Cup class, experienced Atlantic driver Bob Siska is preparing for his seventh series race in Montreal while rookie Lee Atkins and Canadian racer Daryl Leiski, fresh from his first C2 win of the year at Road America, will make their first Montreal starts.

 

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