KUNO WITTMER WINS THE HONDA/MICHELIN SERIES RACE AT CIRCUIT GILLES-VILLENEUVE Montreal, Saturday, June 11, 2005 - Starting on the pole, Nick Wittmer of Hudson (QC) won Saturday's Honda/ Michelin Challenge Series race at the Circuit ...
KUNO WITTMER WINS THE HONDA/MICHELIN SERIES RACE AT CIRCUIT GILLES-VILLENEUVE
Montreal, Saturday, June 11, 2005 - Starting on the pole, Nick Wittmer of Hudson (QC) won Saturday's Honda/ Michelin Challenge Series race at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. The Honda de Sigi Autosport driver was unchallenged in the 14-lap race, crossing the finish line 4.536 seconds ahead of defending race champion Steven Laporte of Sainte-Anne-de-Lacs. Third man on the podium was Didier Schraenen of Mont-Saint-Hilaire (QC), who finished 19.469 seconds back.
''When I cleared the first corner, I knew I was in business and that I was not going to let anyone by me,'' said Wittmer who started on the pole, after Series officials disallowed Steven Laporte's pole winning lap for an illegal off-track excursion. ''I made no mistake on the first lap and thought at that point that I could actually win this thing. After I took a good lead, I let up a bit, but kept my concentration. I'm happy for the team, I'm just happy.''
Although he was unhappy about losing the pole and starting third, Laporte made up for it during the race to earn his second consecutive 2nd-place finish. ''We may end up winning the championship again if this podium streak continues, but I think we will win a few before the season is over,'' said the Lombardi Honda Racing driver. ''I should have made a move on Didier earlier, because Nick (Wittmer) was running away. When I finally got by him on lap 3, I started to push very hard and I almost lost it. I decided to settle down for second place when my teammate (Robert Boyer) hit the wall. With no one to work with and the lead that Nick built-up over me, there was no point of taking any chances.''
As for Schraenen, he made a mistake that cost him second place. ''I feel guilty because I let my team down,'' said the Energie/NAPA/RDS pilot. ''I made a few mistakes out there, but the biggest one is when I missed a shift in the middle of the long straight before the pit entry and Laporte and Boyer got by me. After that incident, the car was not as powerful.'' There was plenty of action during the second round of the 2005 season with many on-track incidents coming from the second lead pack to the back of the grid. When the dust settled, Alex Penfold of Georgetown (ON) emerged in fourth place ahead of Kuno Wittmer and rookie Matt Champagne of Fonthill (ON). Penfold had a great start moving from fifth to third ahead of Steven Laporte and Robert Boyer. But on the following lap, he returned to fifth after the two Lombardi Hondas made their way back past the Pfaff Leasing Honda of Penfold. He lost two more positions to Ryan Kelly and Normand Boyer but a contact between Kelly and Normand eliminated Kelly from contention while Normand was black-flagged for the incident. Penfold gained another position to fourth when Robert Boyer hit the wall on lap 11. As for Champagne, his sixth-place finish kept him in first place in the rookie standings.
''We had a good race even though we took a chance with the race set-ups,'' said Champagne who started the race in 11th place. ''We had limited track time here and we are new at this game. We are learning so much every weekend. In the race, I kept up with the second lead group and made my way past all the track incidents. We are rolling forward. We finished 12th in Mosport and 6th here.''
Marc Lachappelle of Longueuil finished seventh in the Honda Media car ahead of Normand Boyer of Sainte-Agathe. Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau, also of Longueuil, and Kurt Kossmsnn round out the Top-10.
In the points standings, Schraenen still leads the championship with 65 points, one ahead of Laporte. Nick Wittmer jumps from 7th to third with 58 points, followed by Alex Penfold with 54 and Kuno Wittmer with 50.
The Honda/Michelin Challenge Series is back in action next weekend at Mosport International Raceway for Round 3 of the 2005 schedule.