Bowmanville, Ontario (September 30, 2004) - The 2004 Honda / Michelin Series' season is coming down to the wire this weekend at Mosport International Raceway. The top four drivers in the point standings will be in a battle of their own to see who...
Bowmanville, Ontario (September 30, 2004) - The 2004 Honda / Michelin Series' season is coming down to the wire this weekend at Mosport International Raceway. The top four drivers in the point standings will be in a battle of their own to see who will become the newly crowned champion. Only nine points separate the leading contenders going into this weekend's season finale and any mistake could be costly in their quest. With 204 points, Steven Laporte of St. Sauveur (QC) has a three-point lead on Didier Schraenen of Mont St. Hilaire (QC). Third place belongs to Normand Boyer of Ste. Agathe (QC) with 197 points, and Nick Wittmer of Hudson (QC) is fourth with 195. This weekend's race will be the fourth visit by the Honda / Michelin Series drivers to Mosport this season. Boyer won the first two races (May 23 & June 20) with the third one going to Laporte on August 8.
To be crowned champion, Laporte has to finish ahead of his three closest rivals, and if the Team Lombardi driver wins the race, it's a no brainer. In order for Schraenen to secure the 2004 title for his Energie/NAPA/RDS sponsors, he has to win the race from the pole. If neither Laporte nor Schraenen win the pole, Schraenen will need to finish two positions ahead of Laporte to keep alive any hope of winning the title.
Winning the race, even from the pole, will not be enough for Normand Boyer to win a fourth Honda / Michelin Series title. The Team Lombardi driver will need help. Boyer can secure the title, by winning the race from the pole, then his teammate Laporte would have to finish fourth or worse. But, there are more permutations. If Boyer finishes second in the race and his two main rivals are not in the Top-5, he could become champion providing that Nick Wittmer does not win the race from pole position.
As for Nick Wittmer, the fourth ace in the hole, he can become champion if he wins from the pole, Schraenen finishes fourth or worse and Laporte sixth or worse. By winning the race from the pole, the St. Rose Honda driver would automatically eliminate Boyer from the title chase. Winning the final round of the season seems to be the key to the 2004 Honda / Michelin Series crown. Of course, if another driver, not in the top four, wins the final race, it will be another story. And, that driver could very well be rookie Alex Penfold of Georgetown (ON), who has been running very strong races lately. The Pfaff Leasing driver won the pole in the second Mosport race in June. He won the race before being penalized and pushed back to third. Most of the contenders think he will be a factor in the hunt for the Honda/Michelin championship.
But first place will not the only battleground for this weekend's Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs of Ontario's CELEBRATION 2004. The race for fifth place will also be hotly contested. Kuno Wittmer of Hudson (QC) is fifth with 180 points, five more than Penfold. To preserve his fifth ranking, the Honda de Sigi driver has to finish ahead of Penfold and that won't be an easy task as the Ontario rookie has finished the last two races on the podium, winning in St. Eustache in August and finishing second last weekend in Tremblant.
Frederick Lelièvre of Mont-Joli (QC) is seventh with 171 points. The Rimouski Lamontagne Auto sponsored driver remains a question mark for this weekend as he crashed his car in last Sunday's race warm-up. When he did not start the race, he discarded all possibilities of finishing in the top-3. Montrealer Denis Baillargeon is eighth with 167 points. The Hamel Honda driver, Schraenen' teammate, will need to have a strong run at the front of the field to help his teammate in his quest for his first Honda / Michelin Series title.
Championship Weekend for the Rookies Also on the line this weekend is the very tight battle for Rookie-of-the-Year honours with only two points splitting first from second place. With its own point structure, the rookie standing is a stand-alone championship. At each race, the top rookie finisher scores 30 points, the second place finisher 27 and so on. These are the same as the points distributed for the overall standings but they are only applied to the rookie standings. So, even though Alex Penfold is the top rookie in the overall standings with 175 points, good for sixth place, he's two points back in second place in the rookie standings with 227 points. 11th overall, Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau of Longueuil (QC) leads the rookie standings with 229. Travis Walker, who crashed his Oakville Honda in the warm-up at Mont-Tremblant, is a long shot in third with 215 points.
On Tap This Weekend Celebration 2004 is a two-day affair. Drivers will practice for 20 minutes on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. and will qualifying later that day at 1:45 p.m. The Honda / Michelin Challenge Series 16-lap season finale, to take place this Sunday at 1:15, will crown the 2004 Series Champions. Kelly Williams, a Toronto-based CASCAR driver and Champ Car Team pace car member, will be driving the Honda Canada 00 Honda Civic Press Car this weekend at Mosport.
The Series The Honda / Michelin Challenge Series is a ten-race series held over nine weekends. Six of the races are contested in Ontario (Mosport & Shannonville), with the balance 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 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 Spenard, Tony Morris, Frank Allers, Marc Dancose and Jacques Villeneuve, brother of the late Formula 1 driver Gilles Villeneuve.
Sanctioned by ASN Canada FIA, the series is sponsored by Honda Canada Inc., and co-sponsored by Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., Alpine, Bosal, CSC, Goodridge and NGK.