Rickards Wins First Atlantic Race; Grant Clinches Title
Wampum, PA – A commanding drive from Garth Rickards
in round 13 of the 2015 Atlantic Championship Series season saw the K-Hill driver take the top step of the podium at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Rickards won over Conner Kearby and Keith Grant, who finished third to claim the 2015 Atlantic title for Polestar.
After two pace laps due to colder-than-expected conditions at the 18-turn road course, the green flag was in the air for pole-sitter Grant, who could not contain a fast moving Rickards from the outside of the front row through the opening corner. Once Rickards got the lead, via a move on the outside in turn one in his No. 83 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016/Mazda, it was off in the distance he went, driving to his first victory in the Atlantic Championship Series after a very successful 2014 in the F1600 Series.
“It’s my hometown so I’m used to this weather, the car felt good all race,” said Rickards. “The K-Hill guys did an amazing job. We had great tires from Hoosier and I can’t thank the guys enough.”
Of note, Rickards’ F1600 win also came during the season finale weekend in 2014.
Stalking Grant in the opening 20 minutes of the race, K-Hill Motorsports driver Conner Kearby pounced just after the mid-way point in the race to take second place and started to catch Rickards by the checkered flag.
“I think if we had a little more time we could have battled it out (for the lead), but Garth did a great job today,” said Kearby.
Despite starting from pole and winning both Pittsburgh races earlier in the year, Keith Grant settled for a third place finish and important points haul, making him the 2015 Champion with one race left on the schedule for Sunday at Pittsburgh.
“It seems like we wrapped up the Championship,” said Grant. “In the race Garth got a really good start and took me on the outside of turn one. It wasn’t something I was willing to do at the beginning of the race. Good job on his part.”
Connor Burke fell back in the opening laps, racing back to a strong fourth place finish in a competitive showing in the No. 19 Company Motorsports Swift 014/Toyota.
The Comprent entry of Richard Zober completed the top five at Pittsburgh.
Gaston Kearby, meanwhile, ran as high as fourth place but fell to sixth by the checkered flag, first of the Atlantic Challenge drivers.
Tonis Kasemets was another driver in the race story lines. Kasemets was fastest in practice in the No. 47 Swift 016/Mazda, but started last, passing six cars on the opening lap and settling in behind the leaders. Kasemets wouldn’t be able to advance further, however, as he retired to pit lane on lap four with reported gearbox issues.
Full results are available on www.AtlanticChampionshipSeries.com under the results tab.
The Atlantic Championship Series season concludes with round 14, a 40-minute race schedule for Sunday from Pittsburgh International Race Complex.