Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Markus Niemela: 2008 Atlantic Champion

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted October 4, 2008 at 10:56 am Atlantic Championship

Finninsh driver Markus Niemela did everything right on Friday afternoon in Braselton, Georgia; driving for Brookes Associates Racing. The 24 year old rookie not only won the race, he claimed the 2008 drivers championship, solidifying his title as Rookie of the Year. The former GP2 driver has had a very solid year in America with five podiums, Friday’s victory was Markus’s second consecutive win. He is the first Finnish driver to win the overall championship and the second rookie to win the title. Simon Pagenaud of France also won the title as a rookie in 2006 driving for Team Australia. John Brookes of Brookes Associates Racing is extremely pleased with the result as Niemela’s driving created a historical moment for the team, this is their first Atlantic title.

American drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Jonathan Summerton didn’t fare quite as well. Heading into the series finale at Road Atlanta, Bomarito held a eight point lead over Summerton in the championship tally, Niemela actually sat in third. Unfortunately, both American drivers failed to finish the final race on Friday afternoon. Bomarito, driving for Mathiasen Motorsports, had a mechanical failure that prevented him from crossing the stripe more than 10 times, while Summerton ended up pushing just a bit too hard in an effort to catch Niemela on Friday. Both drivers faced a DNF, ending their hopes of a Championship title in 2008. It should be noted that both drivers had a very successful season. Bomarito claimed 3 victories this year which was a rarity as the series saw seven different winners in 2008. Summerton was in contention all year long and actually had the Rookie of the Year points lead heading into the finale. The Kissimmee, Florida resident had two victories this year driving for Newman-Wachs Racing.

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