Eigtheen-year-old Olivier Bédard sure made his mark on the inaugural season of the Nissan Micra Cup.
Born in 2015 to offer karting graduates and ambitious motorsport fans a chance to taste car racing, the Nissan Micra Cup really puts the emphasis on the driver’s talent (or lack thereof) with identical 1.6-litre Micra S, fitted with a NISMO suspension.
Bédard, himself a karting veteran and former F1600 racer, made the decision to race in the Micra Cup mere days before the start of the season: "It was really a last-minute call for us," the 2011 and 2013 Quebec karting champion told Motorsport.com.
"We got our hands on the car Monday, and the following weekend we were racing at Mont-Tremblant. As far as testing went, I managed five, maybe six laps in the media car during a pre-season test organized by [series promoter] Jacques Deshaies.
“Let’s just say I had to learn to drive these tiny cars on the fly. Although the biggest challenge was putting to rest my formula car reflexes. I kept forgetting it’s OK to rub fenders when you have some! It was a new way to race for me, and I grew to like it over the course of the season.”
With the support of Chag Autosport, Bédard snatched five victories in 12 races, to beat 'Mr. T', Nissan GT Academy’s own Thanaroj Thanasitnitikate, in the title fight.
“I started racing when I was eight,” the Terrebone, Quebec native remembers. “And I’ve always done it with my father, and the tiniest of budgets. So for me, motorsport was always about bringing the machine home in one piece. Really, as little damage as possible,” he adds.
“I was barely a week old when I was put in front of the TV to watch my first Formula 1 race. I grew up watching my dad fiddling with karts, and used to dream of the day I could finally get on track. When the day came, I started hanging out a lot at my dad’s racing school [Max Karting].”
Bédard also tried his hand at stock-car racing, making his debut in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (now known as NASCAR Pinty’s) at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), in August. The experience yielded a very positive 16th place.
It’s performances like these that earned Bédard the Gilles-Villeneuve Trophy, an award given by Auto Sport Québec to a local driver who showed grit and perseverance.
As far as 2016 is concerned, the youngster has every intention of defending his title in the Nissan Micra Cup. But there’s more in the works. “We’re looking at different opportunities, which I can’t talk about at the moment. I had a chance to race in NASCAR last year and I hope to get another to show what I’m really capable of.”