By Michel Poirier-Defoy
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 21 : Antoine Bessette was driving to a podium finish with two laps to go when he was bumped off the track at 170 miles per hour by another competitor at the end of the start-finish straight, ending by the same token every hope he nursed for the Toyota Atlantic championship title. The last race of the season takes place in his hometown next week, at the Gilles-Villeneuve race track. Bessette was finally classified in 13th place.
“Do I have to say how frustrated I am, sighed AB. I drive down the straight at full throttle and this guy comes along and deliberately contacts my car wheel to wheel and sends me off to a DNF. I’ve heard the series officials considered the matter seriously and penalized him for his stupid move but that doesn’t give me back my chances to race for the title.”
A good car on Sunday
Bessette started looking for speed as early as Friday morning. “Road America is the kind of track where you can setup your car and really make the best out of these 4 miles, continued the Quebec native. At one point, I felt we were trying to improve the handling but were getting nowhere. That explains why I was so far on the chart. After discussing with Bruce (Potter), we finally came up with some race setup for the Sunday morning warm-up. I was finally satisfied with the handling and very positive towards the race.
At the green, my car was very quick, I started in 8th place and went up to third within 10 laps. I had Tonis (Kasemets) and Katherine (Legge) in sight and thought I could even win. Trying to setup Katherine for a pass, I went too wide in Canada corner and for the next laps my car was not as good, but I had third place locked up when car 54 (Di Leo) did this stupid move. I have to be the unluckiest guy in this series.”
Antoine Bessette wished Andreas Wirth the very best after his morning accident. “I was sorry not to see him on the starting grid, he said. I wish him the best and hope he will be in Montreal next week, so we can get back at it! We’re tied in fourth place with 234 points and that will be my goal next week: to win in Montreal and try to finish on the season standings podium.”
AB is the only Canadian to enter the 12-race series of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic championship. He drives the #3 Unik Auto Design car from Polestar Racing Group. You may visit Antoine Bessette's web site at www.bessetteracing.com and the series at www.toyotaatlantic.com.