Trois-RiviÃ¨res Driver Cyril Hamelin Seeks Top-Five Finish in Home Race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2009) - Cyril Hamelin does not always seek the spotlight as a driver, but this weekend, he wants to partake in some of the glory. The ...
Trois-Rivières Driver Cyril Hamelin Seeks Top-Five Finish in Home Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2009) - Cyril Hamelin does not always seek the spotlight as a driver, but this weekend, he wants to partake in some of the glory.
The 32-year-old Hamelin - born, raised and currently living in Trois- Rivières - would like to earn his third top-10 finish in three Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner starts this season, as he prepares for Saturday's ST race in the 40th edition of the Grand Prix de Trois- Rivières.
Saturday's race will begin at 1:15 p.m., while Sunday's Grand Sport (GS) race is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Both races will last 90 minutes.
Hamelin will co-drive with 89 Racing Team owner Jocelyn Hebert in the No. 189 Honda Civic Si, the pair's third race together during the 2009 KONI Challenge season. Previously, the two have finished eighth at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and 10th at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. With two top-10 finishes this season, and three top 10s in seven career series starts, Hamelin would like to keep his momentum going.
"We have to be in the top 10, to keep that streak alive," said Hamelin, whose best career KONI Challenge finish was seventh in 2007 at Mid-Ohio. "But we'd really like to have a top five."
Hamelin grew up watching drivers compete in the Grand Prix de Trois- Rivières and dreamed someday of competing himself. By 1998, his dream came true - as a crewmember for the Hyundai Motorsport team in the Motorola Cup, a predecessor series to KONI Challenge.
"When I was young, I watched the races at Trois-Rivières," said Hamelin, who lives about five minutes away from where the races are staged. "This will be my sixth time racing here, and it's the one and only weekend in Canada for me to race, so this is my favorite weekend."
In 2001, he began racing in go-karts and, from 2002-2005, participated in the Quebec GTU Championship, driving for Hebert in virtually identical cars. Hamelin won the series title in 2004, and laughed as he reminisced about running against his boss.
"Then, I raced as a teammate to Jocelyn, but we competed against each other," Hamelin said. "He used to take the fastest car, and I had to drive the second fastest car. It was fun, especially when I beat him."
By 2006, the two decided to build a car they would co-drive - a Honda Civic Si - in the KONI Challenge, which specifies that two drivers must compete in every race. Hamelin finished 16th in his series debut at Lime Rock Park in May 2006, and has competed in at least one event in every season since.
Despite his three career top 10s, he is still looking for a strong KONI Challenge finish at Trois-Rivières. His best finish at the track was third in the Quebec GTU Championship, but he has finished 18th (2008) and 19th (2007) in two KONI Challenge starts on the 1.521-mile temporary course.
One of the prime mechanics on the 89 Racing Team, Hamelin - whose day job is working as a master technician on Volvo cars - said he understands he is not the most high-profile driver in the series. However, he said he is living his childhood dream, and with Hebert as a co-driver, Hamelin is hoping to accomplish more in his hometown race in 2009.
"Me and my brothers, we saw the cars and the trailers, and I thought, 'Maybe one day, I will race here,'" said Hamelin, who thanked his Trois- Rivières based sponsors Trois-Rivières Honda, TVA-Chem, Carrosseries Trois- Rivières, Auberge Godefroy, MChip.ca and energie 102.3, among others.
"I have competed here as a crew member in the Motorola Cup with Hyundai Motorsport and now as a driver with 89 Racing, so I have accomplished a lot here," he said. "Now, we want that really good finish."
And some of the weekend's spotlight, too.