BOUCHER BACK ON FAMILIAR GROUND SHANNONVILLE, Ont. (August 28) -- Although she has traveled all over the world, Shannonville Motorsport Park feels like home for motorcycle racer Marie-Josee Boucher. The 28-year-old will be back on familiar ...
BOUCHER BACK ON FAMILIAR GROUND
SHANNONVILLE, Ont. (August 28) -- Although she has traveled all over the world, Shannonville Motorsport Park feels like home for motorcycle racer Marie-Josee Boucher.
The 28-year-old will be back on familiar ground when the Parts Canada Superbike Championship wraps up its 2008 season at Shannonville this weekend. The season finale will be held on the 2.45km (1.53-mile) 'Pro Track.' Practice begins Friday with qualifying Saturday and feature races in all seven national classes on Sunday.
Jordan Szoke of Brantford, Ont. is trying to wrap up his third consecutive Parts Canada Superbike title.
"This is like home for me," said Boucher as she set up her equipment at the track on Thursday afternoon. "I know Shannonville so much. I've raced here in the regionals for a long time. It's a fun track, pretty technical. And there's a lot of braking, and I'm usually pretty good in the braking."
Riding her Excel Moto Hondas the Montreal resident is completing her first year as a Pro on the national tour and comes to the season finale third in the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year rankings. She lies 15th in the Parts Canada Superbike feature class standings, and is 10th in points in the Yoshimura Pro 600 Sport Bike division.
"The Nationals have been going better for me than I thought," said Boucher, who is the only woman competing at the Pro level on the Canadian tour this year. "I didn't really come into the year with any goals. I'm really happy with what I've achieved. I'd like to finish 10th in the Pro 600 class."
It's perhaps not surprising Boucher has developed a love of moving fast, since she's never stayed in one place for very long. Because of her father Roland's work as a project manager with Hydro Quebec International and Atomic Energy of Canada the Boucher family was constantly on the move. Marie-Josee has lived in Argentina, Cameroon and Romania.
"We traveled a lot because of Dad," she explained. "It was very educational. You really learn to appreciate what you have here."
Marie-Josee started racing in 2003 and quickly rose to prominence in the Pro Honda Oils Women's Cup, which runs in Quebec and Ontario. From there she started racing with the men in regional events and last year, along with Lachine, Que.'s Catherine Nadeau, was one of the stars of the national Amateur 600 Sport Bike Championship. Boucher finished fourth in the standings with two third place results to her credit.
For 2008 Boucher moved up to the Pro class with her Honda CBR600RRs supplied by Montreal's Excel Moto Honda, along with a new CBR1000RR for the Superbike class. Mixing it up with Canada's best professional racers has been an eye-opener, but Boucher is relishing the experience.
"These guys, from start to finish they just go at 110 per cent," she explained. "There's no messing around. The races are longer, so it's very tiring, and with the extra practice from doing two classes I'm spending more time on the bike. I try to conserve my energy, but I always want to go as hard as I can when I get out on the track.
"But I've learned a lot. I know these guys respect me as a racer and I'm glad I can be competitive with guys at my experience level. I'm having more fun this year, I feel like I have nothing to prove. I'm racing with better riders and I'm learning a lot just by following them."
Boucher's best result of the season came in the previous stop of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie, N.S., when she placed ninth in the opening Pro 600 Sport Bike race of the doubleheader weekend. But that event was also one of her toughest, as she badly bruised her elbow in a crash on the opening lap of the second Pro 600 Sport Bike race.
"I've had two weekends to recover," she said. "I've had some time to relax and go to the beach, which was good for me. I feel revived. My arm is OK, just a little swollen."
Boucher also faces the challenge of running in what is very much a privateer team. On most weekends her crew consists of former racer Alain Larouche, who handles the preparation of the motorcycles and Roland, who fills the role of team manager.
"Without Alain I wouldn't be here," Boucher admitted. "He's so good. He knows how the bikes work and he knows how to coach me to get the best out of them.
"My Dad is my greatest fan. It's not always easy for him to see me on the track. But he's having fun, even though he's supposed to be retired. He's a good communicator, he doesn't stress. He reminds me that I'm supposed to be here for fun. He doesn't put any pressure on me, and it's not easy; being on the track with these guys can be pretty discouraging sometimes."
Those frustrating moments haven't dulled Boucher's passion for the sport, however. She has used almost all her vacation time from her job as a tariff analyst for Cogeco Cable to come to the races.
"I think I have a good combination of professional work and a hobby," she said. "If I just had my job I don't know what I would do with myself. I'm always active. I don't just sit on the couch. I think my life is pretty good."
Round 7 of the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike Championship will be held at Shannonville Motorsport Park in Shannonville, Ont. Aug. 29-31. This is the final round for Canada's premier motorcycle road racing series, with national titles still up for grabs in four classes, including the headline Pro Superbike division.
Weekend Schedule: Practice will be held Friday, Aug. 29 with qualifying set for Saturday, Aug. 30. Feature races in all classes will go Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31.
Tickets: Visit www.shannonville.com, or call 1-800-959-8955 or (613) 966- 7223. Weekend tickets are available for $50, Sunday only for $30. Children under 12 are free.