''WE NEED TO WORK AS A TEAM IF WE WANT TO HOLD ON TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP!'' Montreal, September 22, 2005 - Steven Laporte needs to count on the help of his teammate Robert Boyer this weekend at Circuit Mont-Tremblant if he wants to improve his ...
''WE NEED TO WORK AS A TEAM IF WE WANT TO HOLD ON TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP!''
Montreal, September 22, 2005 - Steven Laporte needs to count on the help of his teammate Robert Boyer this weekend at Circuit Mont-Tremblant if he wants to improve his chances of recapturing the title in the Honda Michelin Series. The Lombardi Honda driver holds first place in the series standings after seven rounds, but his lead over closest rival Kuno Wittmer is a mere two points, and he carries just three more than Nick Wittmer, who sits in third.
With one victory this season, Laporte also earned four, second place finishes and has 208 points on the eve of the penultimate round. The Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs driver had an excellent season start but missed the podium by finishing fourth in Toronto in July and earned an 11th place finish in Trois Rivières at the beginning of August. He got his groove back during the series last two outings, earning two second place finishes in Montreal and Mosport, propelling him to the head of the class.
"The perfect ending would be that my teammate Robert (Boyer) finish second directly behind me and ahead of the Wittmer brothers, but we don't live in a story book world," says Laporte with a hint of irony. "We'll be working as a team, that's for sure. Lombardi Honda Racing held private tests at Saint-Eustache on Monday and on Thursday we were at Circuit Mont-Tremblant for another day of testing. I know that Robert (Boyer) really wants to win this one because Tremblant is his home track. But I want to win too, so the stakes are high. We haven't talked about race strategy yet, but I want to make sure I'm ahead of him in order to stay out of trouble. We won't be offering positions as gifts to each other, but we're not going to play rough either."
"The championship is important to Lombardi", he continues. "Winning it two years in a row would be great recognition. We need to close this season as champions in order to please everyone, but especially our sponsors." As for Robert Boyer, he needs to improve his performance against the Wittmer brothers. Pulled down by a 16th place finish in Montreal at the Grand Prix of Canada, Laporte's teammate had excellent runs at the start of the season in two outings at Mosport. A second disappointing 12th place performance at Trois-Rivières marred his season further, and he was assessed a penalty that cost him a third place finish at the Molson Indy Montreal. Laporte's hope that Boyer can finish ahead of the Wittmer brothers in the last two rounds of the season, would give both drivers the maximum opportunity to earn precious points. Currently in 7th place with 156 points, Boyer is mathematically eliminated from winning the championship. The Sainte Anne des Lacs driver can however be an important factor in the battle between his teammate Laporte and the Wittmers.
"My results are not up to my expectations or hopes," says Boyer, slightly disappointed by the turn of his season. "Normally I run better than this. I need to find the stride that got me started this season. I don't offer any excuses for my poor performances, and I need to focus on my next race. With two rounds remaining it would be a great boost for me to win both events. The Lombardi team tested in Tremblant and in order to find what makes the new suspensions tick. We don't really know what to expect from this year's new suspensions here. We know the important role these pieces play, and we cannot neglect that aspect. The battle for the title is tight, so Steven (Laporte) and I will share our data 100% in order to get the maximum performance out of our cars."
"To win, the series needs to let me race and not penalize me for incidents like the one in the rain in Montreal, " continued Boyer who recalled the 30-second penalty he was assessed by officials following a non-intentional contact. "The third place finish that was stripped from me caused irreparable damages in the championship run. It erased seven points from my record and gave an extra point to Nick (Wittmer) and all of those who were re-ranked ahead of me. Race results are earned on track, and politics should have nothing to do with the results. Other drivers have to also stop thinking of my car as a stamp pad. The rules and regulations need to apply to everyone equally."
Tony Lombardi agrees with Laporte and Boyer's way of thinking about the championship battle. The owner of Lombardi Honda Racing wants to win the championship, but not at the expense of good sportsmanship.
"We have one strategy; to win," says Lombardi. "We want to see our drivers at the front and on the podium, especially ahead of their rivals. My expectations are very high, and in order to be successful, every member of our team must perform, there are no specific on-track instructions. Anyway, how could we possibly come up with a million different strategies for a thirty minute race? Normally everything gets laid out in qualifying and things rapidly change on the exit of turn 1. If one of my drivers slows down his teammate, he must let him pass. It's the only instruction I'm giving. I want our drivers to have a strong finish to the season, especially Robert (Boyer) . He should be in the hunt for the title, but he hasn't had luck on his side this year. One or two little mistakes can cost you the championship, that's what happened to him. I know that he is capable of winning and being a regular podium finisher just like Steven (Laporte)."
The Lombardi Honda Racing team will be on track this weekend at Circuit Mont-Tremblant for Round 8 of the Honda Michelin Series. Six sessions are schedule on the 4.26 kilometre track ; two practice sessions Friday, two qualifying periods on Saturday, and a warm-up on Sunday morning. The green flag drops on the 16-lap race on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.