Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (September 26, 2004) - Starting third on the grid, Normand Boyer of Ste. Agathe, Que., took the lead on lap 1 of 15 to win Round 9 of the Honda/Michelin Challenge Series held Sunday at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. The Team ...
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (September 26, 2004) - Starting third on the grid, Normand Boyer of Ste. Agathe, Que., took the lead on lap 1 of 15 to win Round 9 of the Honda/Michelin Challenge Series held Sunday at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. The Team Lombardi Honda driver won his third race of the season - his first since Round 3 at Mosport on June 30. Alex Penfold finished second to earn his fourth podium of the season. The Georgetown, Ont., rookie took over second place on lap 4, passing polesitter Didier Schraenen of Mont St. Hilaire, who went on to finish third. Penfold pursued Normand Boyer in vain, looking for a mistake, but the veteran never put a wheel off, crossing the finish line two-tenths of a second ahead.
With the two front-runners well ahead of the pack, the real battle was for third place in the Fall Classic, with four drivers trading for position. Penfold was third on lap 1; Kuno Wittmer replaced him on lap 2; then it was Didier Schraenen on lap 4. Points leader Steven Laporte moved into third on lap 6 before being supplanted by Wittmer again on lap 11. Schraenen finally took third place back from lap 13 to the checkered flag, finishing 11 seconds behind the winner.
Only one second separated third from seventh place. Kuno Wittmer of Hudson, Que., finished fourth ahead of Steven Laporte of St. Sauveur, brother Nick Wittmer and Robert Boyer of Ste. Anne-des-Lacs. Montrealer Denis Baillargeon finished eighth followed by rookie Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau of Longueuil, Que., and Jeff Pabst of Schomberg, Ont.
Boyer was happy to finally get back into the winner's circle. ''It was a good race for Team Lombardi,'' said the three-time series champion, who had started third. ''My race strategy was to wait and see what would happen at the front, but I was already into second place coming out of the first corner. Then I drafted Didier (Schraenen) on the long straight and took over first place. On the last lap, (Alex) Penfold almost pushed me off the track, so when we came into the last corner, I did not give him any room to try any move on me. The Lombardi team put used Michelin tires on the car for the race and they held well until nearly the end of the race. If we had put new ones on, no way would Penfold been able to challenge me at the end. All in all, it was a good race.'' As for Penfold, he had a bumpy ride as he made his way from sixth to second in four laps. '' We had a great race,'' said the rookie driver. ''On lap four, I out-braked two cars at the end of the back straight to take over second place. After that, I pushed real hard to catch Normand (Boyer), but then the syncromesh gears became capricious and I had trouble shifting. That's why I was unable to keep a steady gap behind Normand. At the end I had a good draft, but I could not catch him. The Pfaff Leasing Honda was terrific and well balanced, and the Michelin tires were amazing. I'm very happy about the outcome of the race.''
Third place finisher Didier Schraenen was a bit frustrated coming out of his Energie/NAPA/RDS Honda Civic after the race. '' I have nothing against drivers fighting for positions, but I fell as low as sixth place with drivers trying to push me off the track on every lap,'' said the race polesitter. '' Of all the cars that passed me, only Normand (Boyer) made a clean pass on me. But I fought back to third place and kept it until the end.''
After nine races, Steven Laporte still leads the championship with 204 points, but his lead is down to three points over Didier Schraenen. With the win, Normand Boyer moves from fifth to third place overall with 197 points, two points ahead of Nick Wittmer. Fifth place belongs to Kuno Wittmer with 180 points, followed by Alex Penfold with 175.
The 2004 Honda/Michelin Series champion will be crowned at the conclusion of the final round of the season held October 3 at Mosport International Raceway.
The Honda / Michelin Challenge Series is a ten-race series held over nine weekends. Six of the races are contested in Ontario (Mosport & Shannonville), with the balance in Quebec (Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Saint-Eustache & Mont-Tremblant).