Positive power! Fifteen year old Quebec racer Maxime Pelletier is doing quite a bit of 'homework' over the winter. It is not his schooling that he's putting all that overtime into, but his budding racing career. Pelletier has been doing a lot of...
Positive power! Fifteen year old Quebec racer Maxime Pelletier is doing quite a bit of 'homework' over the winter. It is not his schooling that he's putting all that overtime into, but his budding racing career. Pelletier has been doing a lot of testing with Gelles Racing since becoming the youngest driver to be awarded a 2006 F-BMW scholarship who he will run the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship with.
Pelletier is also one of the top drivers on the Cameron Motorsports 'Elite' team, moving up to the senior ranks, competing in the Florida Winter Tour.
"Maxime has really matured as a driver and a person," says Cameron Motorsports Team manager Trevor Wickens. "When he first joined us, he showed a lot of potential, and in the past 12 months, he has exceeded all our expectations."
Those expectations, combined with raw speed, and an abundance of talent have earned Pelletier a spot with Gelles Racing for 2006.
"Well since the beginning of January I have been testing already I have done seven days. I was already as fast as my teammate by the fifth day, which I was very happy about," Pelletier said after returning from his last test in Georgia.
"I am also really happy with the tests because I learn a lot about the car and driving these kind of cars. At our last test in Savannah, I was quite fast even faster than Kevin Lacroix's time from last year."
Wickens says he's seen the results of Pelletier's testing show up on the karting weekends also. "I think he will do well in F-BMW, and in the testing he has done so far, he has really improved plus I can see the results in his karting also. It seems to be helping in both areas." Pelletier also sees changes in his Cameron Motorsports team. "This year the Cameron Motorsports team has made some changes that will really help, like the addition of the way we record data, and the way we use that data as a team. In fact, our karting team works the same way as a car team would."
While the teams work the same way, the personnel are different, and for anyone to succeed in any form of racing, the relationship between driver and the team is paramount. "Since the first day of testing with Gelles, team owner Bob Gelles has been trying a few different engineers to work with me," Pelletier said. "Last test I worked with a German engineer. We worked very well together and he gave me lots of good advice. He was very professional, and I would like to work more with him."
For Pelletier, the real test will come when the official series test days roll around, and he is confident he can run in the top five, but he also realizes that he must keep working hard to achieve that goal.
When the season gets going in earnest, for sure Pelletier will have the Montreal Grand Prix round circled on his calendar. "I expect the competition to be very high, with 30 to 35 drivers per race. I am really looking forward to Montreal, and my goal there is a podium. I know there will be a lot of people there to support me, and that alone I think will help me get a good result in Montreal. But first I have to focus on the first race, and take it one race at a time."
Ironically, the 'BMW circle' for Pelletier is quite small. You see, Trevor Wickens, the team manager for Cameron is Robert Wickens brother. Robert finished third last year in the series, and he is out to secure the championship this year. Wickens is also the teammate to Pelletier in the kart team, so it could be a bit of an issue, but neither of them think it will be. "Well Robbie helps me so much with the karting, like last week in Homestead. There he was able to help me, but in the cars it won't be the same as we are both going for the same championship but I am sure we will stay friends like we are now," Pelletier said.
Those comments were echoed by Trevor Wickens. "That's not a big deal, I can cheer for both. I want my brother to do good, but I want my driver to do good also."
This will be a critical year of development for the young Quebec driver, and the best way to keep up with his progress is to visit his website at www.maximepelletier.com
Maxime Pelletier interview: One on one
By Russ Bond