KUNO WITTMER BREAKS QUALIFYING RECORD ON WAY TO THIRD POLE AT MOSPORT
Bowmanville, ON, October 1, 2005 - Kuno Wittmer of Hudson (QC) broke the Honda/Michelin Challenge Series lap record at Mosport International Raceway on his way to his third pole of the 2005 season. The Honda de Sigi AutoSport driver paced the 3.957-kilometre road course in 1 minute 41.883 seconds at an average speed of 139.819 km/h erasing a little more than half a second from the record previously set by Didier Schraenen last May. Kuno, the series points leader, will share the front row with his younger brother Nick, who missed the pole by only 0.013 seconds. Row two will be filled by defending champion Steven Laporte of Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs and his Lombardi Honda Racing teammate Robert Boyer.
The pole gave Kuno Wittmer an extra point, and five points now separate the top-3 contenders going into Sunday's final race of the season. Kuno is now leading the standings with 242 points, four more than Steven Laporte and five ahead of his teammate Nick.
''I needed the point more than my brother Nick did,'' said Kuno Wittmer. ''I now have a four-point lead and that could make a big difference in the championship race. The winner gets 34 points and third place finisher receives 30 points. If Steven (Laporte) wins, I can finish third and still win the title because I won more races than he did.''
Nick Wittmer held provisional pole for most of the only qualifying session in this ninth and final round of the season. But team strategies allowed his brother Kuno take the pole away from him at the end of the session.
''We came into the pits at the halfway mark and decided to let Kuno have a go at the pole in order to give him an extra cushion in the championship lead,'' said Nick Wittmer who was the fastest driver at the time with his Honda Sainte-Rose sponsored Civic DX Coupe. ''It will be more difficult for Steven (Laporte) to retain his title now that Kuno has a four-point lead. It could have been me at the top of the charts, but I'm third in the standings. I can still finish second overall (he's only one point back of Laporte) and I could still win the championship. Anyway you look at it, the Honda de Sigi AutoSport team is in great shape for the race and the title. During the morning practice session, we scrubbed all the Michelin tires needed for Sunday's race.'' Steven Laporte was not happy with his starting position. The Lombardi Honda Racing driver thought the point awarded for the pole was an important one.
''I wanted pole because it would have narrowed the gap to two points to Kuno,'' Laporte said. ''Now, I'm four points back. My car was sliding all over the place during qualifying. We think we may have had a tire pressure problem on the right side. Even though I also broke the old lap record, my car could not match the pace set by the Wittmers. The team will be looking at everything on the car to make sure it's perfect for the race. You never know what can happen during a race. I know I have to win and Kuno to finish fourth if I want to keep my crown.''
Frederick Lelièvre and Didier Schraenen, who has secured fourth place ahead of Lelièvre, will share the third row ahead of Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau and Sylvain Ouellet. Jeff Pabst of Newmarket (ON) and Kris Rams of Toronto round out the top ten.
The Rookies For Tyler Givogue, winning the rookie of the year honours is only a formality. The 20-year old rookie from Embrun, an Ottawa suburb, has a 33-point lead over his 16-year old Kart Depot Predators rookie teammate Philip Major of Ottawa, and 35 from Matt Champagne of Fonthill (ON). Major qualified 11th ahead of Champagne and Givogue.
On Tap This Weekend Celebration 2005 concludes the Honda / Michelin Challenge Series season on Sunday. The 18-lap season finale, to start at 1:15, will crown the 2005 Series Champions.
The Series While each race recognizes the top three finishing drivers, the Honda Civic DX Coupes have proven to be incredibly reliable and fast, race after race. At every event new lap records have been set for the Series - a true testament to Civic's proven technology and durability.
The Honda Michelin Challenge Series is sanctioned by ASN Canada FIA, sponsored by Honda Canada Inc. Supporting partners include: Michelin North America (Canada) Inc, Dynamic Suspensions, Bosal, CSC Racing Products, Goodridge, NGK Spark Plugs, Hawk Performance, Mechanix Wear and Racing Radios.
Honda is the world's preeminent maker of engines for automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment. With more than 120 manufacturing facilities in 30 countries worldwide, Honda now attracts nearly 20 million customers annually. Honda Canada manufactures the Honda Ridgeline, Civic, Pilot, and the Acura EL and MDX at its two plants in Alliston, Ontario.