Frédéric started the opening round of the championship from third place, but had a good start and jumped over his teammate Summerton, together with the eventual race winner Edwards. The drivers of Genoa Racing battled for second place and Frédéric lost some precious time in his pursuit for the leader. After a series of fast laps, Fred had to let Edwards go. But second place still is a great result for Frédéric, who was the fastest rookie all week.
The racing week of Frédéric Vervisch started on Tuesday with two testing sessions in which he set the tone immediately in the Genoa Swift-Mazda #17. John Edwards was the only driver who was able to follow Frédéric’s pace. Before the second session, Genoa Racing and Frédéric opted to change the setup, but this didn’t turn out to be an improvement. The setup was once again changed before timed practice started.
During the first qualifying sessions Jonathan Summerton and Frédéric dominated. At the end, the Belgian driver was only five hundredths of a second shy of Summerton’s pole time. Although Frédéric set the second fastest time of all drivers during both qualifying sessions, he had to start from third place as Edwards was the fastest man in second qualifying, which earned him a front row grid spot.
In the race, everything went according to plan. During the start, Edwards and Fred went past the slow starting Summerton. At the start of the second lap however, the race was neutralized after a collision between Markus Niemelä and Jonathan Bomarito. Only after five laps the race was restarted and Frédéric was immediately attacked by Summerton. He overtook Frédéric in the first corner, but a lap later Fred retook second place. In the mean time, while Jonathan and Fred were fighting for second, Edwards had built a large lead. Frédéric tried to close the gap, but there wasn’t enough time left. A strong second place finish in his first Atlantic race was a very good result for the young Belgian. He also was the first driver since 2007 who was capable of finishing second on his debut.
Vervisch: “My first race weekend in the Atlantics was just great! The team was impressed by my speed. It has to be said that setting fast laps in a new car on unknown tracks isn’t an easy task. That we were also faster than guys like Niemelä (’08 champion) or Bomarito (’08 runner-up) all the time is a good sign. Working with a great team like Genoa Racing is also fantastic!”
“It’s a pity that we just missed pole by a couple of hundredths of a second and I think that a victory would have been possible. I was able to put Edwards under pressure on the opening lap, but after the caution period, I focused too much on Edwards and not on Summerton, who was overtaking me at the same time. I lost a lot of time behind my team mate. After I overtook Jonathan, it was already too late to attack the leader. Edwards had a big lead and he was not making any mistakes. I tried to secure second place, because it was my goal to get a good result and that is what we did. It was a good choice to come to America and I’m convinced that we can continue to work something out with the team for the rest of the season.”
“I want to dedicate my second place to one of my most loyal fans, who unfortunately left us too soon. Denis has always supported me in good times and bad and I called him a good friend. My sympathy goes to his wife, his son, family and friends who, at this moment, have such a difficult time.”