Kingston, Ontario (October 16, 2004) - Steven Laporte, from St. Sauveur (QC), was honoured as the 2004 Driver Champion during the first Annual Honda / Michelin Challenge Series Award Banquet of the 21st Century, held Saturday night in Kingston, ...
Kingston, Ontario (October 16, 2004) - Steven Laporte, from St. Sauveur (QC), was honoured as the 2004 Driver Champion during the first Annual Honda / Michelin Challenge Series Award Banquet of the 21st Century, held Saturday night in Kingston, Ontario. The series champion drove his Team Lombardi Honda Civic DX Coupe three times to the winner's circle, and totaled 234 points at season end. With only a four-point lead going into the 10th and final round at Mosport International Raceway, Laporte won the hard fought race to secure the title.
"Honda Canada and all of its associate sponsors are so proud to hold the first Annual Driver Award Banquet of the millennium," said Ralph Luciw, Series Director for Honda Canada Inc. "This year's championship has been one of the most hotly disputed battles since the series' 1976 inaugural season. All the drivers - rookies, newcomers and veterans of the previous series - came out to win on every race weekend. So much that the championship came down to the wire. Four drivers were still in the hunt for the top spot in the standings before the start of the last race at Mosport. First, I would like to congratulate the 2004 Series Champion, Steven Laporte, on his fine achievement, as well as all the other award recipients in tonight's award ceremony. I would also like to thank everyone that participated in or made this exiting championship series possible."
Laporte beat runner-up Nick Wittmer of Hudson (QC) by 12 points in the final standings. The Honda Ste. Rose pilot also drove a magnificent final race to cross the finish line second, and move from fourth to second place in the final standings. Wittmer won one race during the season but he did it in style. He lead all the race laps from the pole position in the Trois-Rivières event to become the only driver to win from the pole during the 2004 season. Also honoured was third-place finisher Didier Schraenen of Mont St. Hilaire (QC), who totaled 221 points. Only one point separated the Énergie/ NAPA/RDS driver from second place in the final standings. Schraenen also picked-up the Honda / Michelin Challenge Series Master Championship Award presented to the driver over 40 years of age with the most championship points at the end of the season. The Honda / Michelin Challenge Series Rookie of the Year Award was presented to Alex Penfold of Georgetown (ON) who topped the rookie standings with 257 points. The 19-year old finished only one point ahead of Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau of Longueuil (QC). In the overall standings, Penfold finished sixth. He won in St. Eustache, leading all 25 laps with his Pfaff Leasing Honda Civic. He also stood on the podium three more times. The rookie of the year winner also won the pole in round three at Mosport and set race fastest lap in the penultimate race at Mont-Tremblant.
Ralph Luciw, Honda / Michelin Series Director, also presented the Series Builder Award to Daniel Courtney, from Kendal (ON), for his outstanding work in the community and corporate sector in promoting Canada's professional series with his Positive Influence Racing group. He worked in partnership with the Durham Regional Police Service and Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Courtney, who entered nine of the ten events on the schedule, promoted the series and its image in major and regional Ontario newspapers, radio shows, television programs, corporate events and local fairs. His, and all of his Positive Influence Racing (PIR) sponsors', message was clear: Promote the series through safe driving - no drugs, no alcohol when you drive.
Silvia Mammone, Michelin Canada High Performance Product Manager, presented the 2004 Honda / Michelin Series Team Spirit Award to Patrick Wittmer, Managing Director for the Honda de Sigi / Honda Ste. Rose Team. The team showed a consistent display of the highest level of teamwork throughout the season in the area of presentation, preparation and results. The two-car team was constant runner with one win, six podium finishes, four poles and four fastest race laps.
During the 2004 season, the Honda / Michelin drivers completed 2,785 race laps out of a possible total of 2,850 laps for an average completion of 97.7%. Six different drivers won races and 12 different drivers stepped on the podium. The first season series averaged 18 entrants per race, and a total of 32 drivers, including one-off participation by members of the media, competed in the 10-race championship series.
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 in 2004 to encourage young drivers to enter the sport, but it has also attracted several veterans. The single-make Championship Series gives drivers the opportunity to showcase their talents in identical cars. The Honda/Michelin Challenge Series reinforces the fun-to-drive aspects of the Civic, the top-selling passenger car in Canada for the past six years, and will be further supported by its reputation for quality, reliability and durability.
The road racing series was originally launched in 1976 with the Honda Civic Hatchback. During its 17-year run, the series attracted more than 400 racers, including Richard Spénard, Tony Morris, Frank Allers, Marc Dancose and Jacques Villeneuve, brother of the late Formula 1 driver Gilles Villeneuve.