Rookie Alex Penfold Wins First Honda/Michelin Race at St. Eustache Saint-Eustache, Quebec (August 22, 2004) - Starting on the outside of row one, rookie Alex Penfold of Georgetown, Ontario took the lead in the first turn of the 25-lap Eighth...
Rookie Alex Penfold Wins First Honda/Michelin Race at St. Eustache
Saint-Eustache, Quebec (August 22, 2004) - Starting on the outside of row one, rookie Alex Penfold of Georgetown, Ontario took the lead in the first turn of the 25-lap Eighth Round to win his first-ever Honda / Michelin Challenge Series race held Sunday on the road course of the Autodrome St. Eustache, near Montreal. The Pfaff Leasing driver never looked back after polesitter Steven Laporte of St. Sauveur (QC) slid off course in the first turn to fall back to 10th place. The Lombardi Honda driver then staged a comeback to finish fourth overall, behind his teammates, Normand Boyer and his brother Robert. Normand, the eldest of the two, took second place away from Robert on the last lap of the race.
Didier Schraenen of Mont St. Hilaire (QC) finished fifth ahead of Nick & Kuno Wittmer of Hudson (QC). Schraenen, who started eighth benefited from an off course excursion by Nick Wittmer and a stop & go penalty imposed on his older brother Kuno for short cutting the course, to score his fourth Top-5 finish of the season. Kuno was running second when he was called into the pits. Quebec drivers Denis Baillargeon, Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau and Frederick Lelièvre rounded out the Top-10.
"This is amazing," said Penfold after the race. "The Pfaff Leasing Honda Civic DX Coupe was unbelievable. We had problems in the morning practice, and the crew set out to resolve the problems. In qualifying, everything went well as I qualified second. I like this track, it's great for our cars. I wanted to redeemed myself after losing the win in Round 3 at Mosport (last June). I'm really happy. It can't get any better."
Runner-up Normand Boyer was a bit frustrated following the early afternoon qualifying session as he was held in the pits in the final minutes of the session for an on-track infraction. "This was when the track and the tires were at their best, and I had to sit in the pit and watch," said Boyer who started the race in seventh place. But the Ste. Agathe driver was in a better mood following the race. "I guess it turned for the best" continued the Lombardi Honda driver. This track is very demanding and this second place demanded a lot of work. I managed to slip by my brother at the end because his car was sliding all over the place. A few more laps and who knows, maybe I would have been able to get close enough to Alex (Penfold) to give it a try."
Third place finisher Robert Boyer was happy collecting his first podium finish of the season. "We have been very unlucky so far this year," said the veteran driver. "The car was great at the start of the race, but near the end, it was sliding all over the place and I made a few mistakes. I did not try to fight off Normand's challenge because his car was much quicker than mine at the end of the race. We'll take the points and the double podium for Team Lombardi."
Polesitter Steven Laporte, who made a great comeback to finish fourth after falling back to 10th, was rewarded with sole possession of first place in the provisional standings with 183 points. He actually doubled his points lead to eight over Nick Wittmer. The Ste Rose Honda driver did well at the start of the race going from six to fourth before falling back to finish where he started. Third place in the standings belongs to Didier Schraenen with 173 points. The Energie/NAPA/RDS driver moves up one position in the standings, two points ahead of Frederick Lelièvre of Mont-Joli who finished 10th today. Normand Boyer is fifth with 167 points, 10 ahead of Kuno Wittmer.
The next round will be held the weekend of September 26 for the Fall Classic at le circuit Mont-Tremblant, and the season finale is scheduled for the weekend of October 3 at Mosport International Raceway.
The Series The Honda / Michelin series is a 10-race series held over nine weekends. Six races are contested in Ontario (Mosport & Shannonville) and four in Quebec (Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Saint-Eustache & Mont-Tremblant).
The stock Honda Civic DX Coupes are equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, and provide a truly low cost form of motor racing. The series was re-introduced to encourage young drivers to enter the sport, but it did not deter some veterans from returning to the series. The single-make Championship Series gives drivers the opportunity the showcase their talent in identical cars. The Honda / Michelin Challenge Series reinforces the fun-to-drive aspects of the Civic and will be further supported by its reputation for quality, reliability and durability. The Honda Civic has been the top-selling passenger car in Canada for the past six years.
The road racing series was originally launched in 1976 with the Honda Civic hatchback. During its 17-year run, the series has attracted more than 400 racers. Among the Canadian race drivers who have competed in this series are Richard Spenard, Tony Morris, Frank Allers, Marc Dancose and Jacques Villeneuve, brother of the late Formula 1 driver Gilles Villeneuve.
The series is sanctioned by ASN Canada FIA and sponsored by Honda Canada Inc. The series is co-sponsored by Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., Alpine, Bosal, CSC, Goodridge and NGK.