KONI Challenge Competitors Head North Of Border For 40th Annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres @Twelve Canadians Shooting For Win In Series' Only Visit To Canada In 2009 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2009) - The 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports ...
KONI Challenge Competitors Head North Of Border For 40th Annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres @Twelve Canadians Shooting For Win In Series' Only Visit To Canada In 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2009) - The 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season is quickly coming to a close, but this weekend's race at Le Circuit de Trois-Rivières in Quebec focuses on more than just championship battles.
Round 9 of 11 for KONI Challenge competitors comes during the 40th annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières on the 1.521-mile temporary street circuit, about two hours northeast of Montreal. This will be the series' fifth visit to the annual event, and in each visit, a Quebec native has won at least one of the races.
Split-class races for the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes are slated, with the ST race scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday and the GS race at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday. Both races will last 90 minutes.
Toronto's Ken Wilden leads a charge of a dozen Canadians challenging for one of the two race victories. Wilden, a two-time race winner in 2009 and co-driver of the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT, holds an 18-point lead (236-218) in the GS standings over James Gue and Bret Seafuse, co-pilots of the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT.
Gue and Seafuse are coming off a victory at Barber Motorsports Park, and Gue raced to a second-place finish in last year's race, won by Kinetic Motorsports drivers Marc-Antoine Camirand and Andy Lally. Wilden, seeking his first career Grand-Am title, is again paired with Dean Martin.
Turner Motorsport has twice won at Trois-Rivières, both times with Chris Gleason, who is fifth in the standings and still in the championship hunt. He is driving with Justin Marks in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, while Matt Bell - who has five GS poles this season - is driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 with Don Salama.
TRG also has two cars entered, with Duncan Ende - fourth in points - running the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997 with Spencer Pumpelly, while Lally - who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Monday at Watkins Glen International - will drive the No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997 with John Potter.
Vancouver's David Riddle completes the Canadian driver lineup in GS, driving the No. 26 C-Max Porsche 997, co-driven by Kris Wilson and fielded by BGB Motorsports.
In ST, point leader Christian Miller leads by 18 points (231-213) over Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante, who picked up six points with their third-place finish at Barber. This weekend, Miller welcomes Boischetel, Quebec, driver Benoit Theetge as his co-driver of the No. 74 Skunk2/034 Motorsport Honda Civic Si.
Like Camirand - a native of St-Leonard-d'Aston who will drive the team's No. 75 Skunk2/Hondata Honda Civic Si with team owner Karl Thomson - Theetge is one of the top drivers in Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières history and has several victories there, although he is still looking for his first career KONI Challenge victory.
"Honestly, I believe I am on the best team out there," said Theetge, who has led laps in each of the last three KONI Challenge ST races at Trois-Rivières. "But racing is racing. The last three years, I led - 20 minutes from the end, 40 minutes, an hour - but never came up winning. There will be a lot of different strategies. I know the car will be competitive and I will be competitive - it's my home track."
Compass360 Racing is also the defending race-winning team at Trois-Rivières, as the Toronto-based team fielded a car for Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood in 2008. The two have moved to the three-car RSR Motorsports stable, where they drive the No. 198 Cruise America/Fischer Skis Mini Cooper S.
The Trois-Rivières area will be represented by 89 Racing Team drivers Jocelyn Hebert of Becancour and Cyril Hamelin of Trois-Rivières. The two have top-10 finishes in each of their starts this season in the No. 189 Trois-Rivières Honda/TVA-Chem Honda Civic Si.
Other Canadian drivers include Gary and Tom Kwok of Markham, Ontario; Paul Dalla Lana and Andrew Danyliw of Toronto; and Gunter Schmidt of Midland, Ontario.
Still, everyone in the KONI ST class is chasing APR Motorsport, which has won the last three races and four pole positions on the season. Ian Baas and Josh Hurley triumphed in the most recent race at Barber in the No. 171 APR/Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI, while Dion von Moltke and Mike Sweeney - winners at Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - seek their third triumph in four races in the No. 181 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI.