Bowmanville, Ontario (October 2, 2004) - Kuno Wittmer of Hudson (QC) won the pole for the final race of the 2004 Honda / Michelin season following qualifying held Saturday at Mosport International Raceway, near Toronto. The session was run on a...
Bowmanville, Ontario (October 2, 2004) - Kuno Wittmer of Hudson (QC) won the pole for the final race of the 2004 Honda / Michelin season following qualifying held Saturday at Mosport International Raceway, near Toronto. The session was run on a damp track as the Honda de Sigi driver posted his best time on the second last lap of the session with a time of 2 minutes 03.499 seconds. He averaged 115.347 km/h around the 3.957-kilometre track. It was Wittmer's second pole of the season. He will start on the front row alongside Didier Schraenen of Mont Saint-Hilaire (QC). The Energie/NAPA/RDS driver held provisional pole until Wittmer edged him by five hundredths of a second while Schraenen was sitting in the pits. Schraenen registered his best time of 2:03.552, averaging 115.297 km/h. There were eight leader changes in the 30-minute, 14-lap session.
Also making a big jump at the end of the session was points leader Steven Laporte of Saint-Sauveur who moved from sixth to third on the final lap, posting a time of 2:04.225 for an average speed of 114.673 km/h. The Team Lombardi driver will share row 2 with Nick Wittmer who held provisional pole from lap 4 to lap 8, the longest of all 17 drivers entered in the final round of the season.
Row three will be filled by Robert Boyer of Sainte-Anne-des-Lac and rookie Alex Penfold of Georgetown (ON), while the next row will see Normand Boyer of Sainte-Agathe on the inside, next to Sylvain Ouellet of Louiseville (QC), who registered his best-ever qualifying effort of the season.
With the pole, Kuno Wittmer took a big point away from Schraenen who sits second in the standings with 201 points, three away from Laporte. "On my quick lap, I was at the limit all the way through my quickest lap," Kuno said. "Really pushing all boundaries. After the green flag was waved with five minutes to go, I went out and ran by myself on that quick lap. I was drifting all the way around the track."
Asked if he would let his brother Nick, who is in the thick the championship hunt, pass him for the win during the race, Kuno replied, "I will know on the last corner of the race." What Kuno meant was that he would let his brother Nick by only if he has a chance of winning the driver's championship. Nick is currently fourth in the standings with 195 points and still has a chance to win the title. Otherwise, Kuno said he would go for his first win of the season.
"When the green flag came out after Daniel Courtney's off-track excursion, I drove a lap and thought that the track would not come around as it was raining lightly and that nobody could improve their lap time," Schraenen said. "I guess I was wrong. I was also low on fuel and did not want to take a chance of being underweight and sent to the back of the field. It was the right call as my car was right on the limit following technical inspection."
As for championship leader Laporte, he was happy with the results that placed him near the front of the starting grid. "I'm not very experienced in the rain, but I'm learning quickly, Laporte said. "I took the best race line at the end and it worked. Nothing has changed following qualifying and tomorrow's race outcome will decide the championship."
Normand Boyer, third in the standings, qualified seventh for Sunday's race. "I'm the only one that went out in qualifying with rain tires," Boyer said. "That means that I have four brand new Michelin tires for the race. It should be cold tomorrow and the track will be more abrasive. The cars with the best sets of tires at the end of the race will be in a strong position."
With only nine points separating the top four, the scene is set to see who will be the 2004 champion. Laporte leads with 204 points, followed by Schraenen with 201, Normand Boyer with 197 and Nick Wittmer with 195. The Honda/Michelin Series drivers will return to the track on Sunday for the morning warm-up. The green flag for the 10th and final round of the 2004 season, a 16-lap race, will drop Sunday at 1:15 p.m. A new champion will be crowned. No rain, forecast sunny and cool for the race.
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.