Bowmanville, Ontario (October 3, 2004) - Starting third on the grid, Steven Laporte of Saint-Sauveur (QC) moved into first place on lap four and then battled Didier Schraenen of Mont-Saint-Hilaire on lap 11 and 12 on his way to his third win of...
Bowmanville, Ontario (October 3, 2004) - Starting third on the grid, Steven Laporte of Saint-Sauveur (QC) moved into first place on lap four and then battled Didier Schraenen of Mont-Saint-Hilaire on lap 11 and 12 on his way to his third win of the season and the 2004 Honda / Michelin Series driver championship with 234 points. It was a war out there with four drivers contending for the driver championship. Prior to the race, Laporte was leading the championship with 204 points, three up on Schraenen. Normand Boyer was third with 197 followed by Nick Wittmer with 195. The action started as the green flag fell with door-to-door racing and a lot of bumping throughout the 16-lap final race of the season.
Polesitter Kuno Wittmer, of Hudson (QC) led the first three laps until passed by Laporte who led the field of 18 Honda Civic DX Coupes around the 3.957-kilometre Mosport International Raceway road course for the next eight circuits. Schraenen took the lead on lap 12 but was involved in an incident with Normand Boyer, who was running third. The incident did not help either driver sending the Énergie/NAPA/RDS Honda of Schraenen in sixth place ahead of Boyer. Laporte seized the moment and from that point on, it was clear sailing for the Team Lombardi Honda of Laporte who crossed the finish line 2.353 seconds ahead of Nick Wittmer. The battle for second was a close photo finish with less than two tenths of a second (0.176) separating second from fourth place. Coming into the last turn of the race, Robert Boyer of Saint-Anne-des-Lacs (QC) had eased his way into second place next to Ste-Rose Honda of Nick Wittmer but Nick won the drag race to the finish line by 65 thousandths of a second over Robert Boyer of Team Lombardi. Fourth place went to the Honda de Sigi car driven by Kuno Wittmer. Nick's second place finish also clinched second place in the driver's standings with 222 points, one point ahead of Schraenen.
Rookie Alex Penfold of Georgetown (ON) crossed the finish line in fifth place, three seconds behind the winner. The Pfaff Leasing driver earned rookie of the year honours, edging Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau of Longueuil (QC) by one point in the final rookie of the year standings. Sixth place in the race went to Didier Schraenen, followed by Ryan Kelly of London (ON). Sylvain Ouellet of Louiseville (QC) Denis Baillargeon of Montreal and Jeff Pabst of Schomberg (ON) round out the top ten. "I'm glad it's over," Laporte said. "This was a real battle to the finish and there was a lot of banging out there. Didier (Schraenen) put a lot of pressure on me. At one point in the race, my teammate Robert (Boyer) was right behind me, but he was passed by Didier who was a real threat. Fortunately, I managed to pull through. This victory and the driver's title were a real team effort and my Lombardi Honda crew and teammates deserve as much credit as I for this achievement"
"There was a lot of action and a lot of incidents in that race," said second place finisher Nick Wittmer. "At the start of the race, I went from fourth to seventh but I slowly crept back up the field to finally reach second place by lap 13. I got a little bit of help at the end to finish ahead of Robert (Boyer)."
Rookie of the year champion Alex Penfold was glad the race was over. "Some drivers were using my car for braking instead of using their own brakes. At the start of the race, I felt confident I could win this race but with almost everyone driving out of control, I quickly realized that it would be an impossible task to try and win here."
The provisional final standings has Laporte winning the title with 234 points, followed by Nick Wittmer who moved from fourth to second with 222 points. Didier Schraenen dropped from second to third with 221 points, while Normand Boyer finished fourth with 211. The Sainte-Agathe driver was pushed back to 12th in the race after he was assessed a 30-second penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the track, Kuno Wittmer concluded the season in fifth place with 204 points, followed by Alex Penfold with 196, Denis Baillargeon with 183 and Robert Boyer with 174. Frédérick Lelièvre of Mont-Joli (171 points) and Ryan Kelly (167 points) round out the Top-10.
The 2004 Honda/Michelin Challenge Series Banquet will be held Saturday October 16 in Kingston, Ontario. The Banquet will celebrate the successful relaunch of the series by rewarding all the drivers of participated in this year's championship quest.
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 Québec (Montréal, 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 Spénard, 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.