June 1, 2009 - Shannonville Ontario - Once again the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship presented by Toyo Tires was the premiere “show” at the Deutscher Automobil Club Trillium Trophy Races at Shannonville Motorsports Park this past weekend. 40 drivers came to strut their stuff and did so in first class fashion.
Lombardi Honda based out of Montreal Quebec brought their two very powerful Honda Civic SIs as did Fix Auto sponsored Eric & Stephen Laporte. The GT Racing squad came fully prepared to make a run for Super Touring Class podium honours with their four-car BMW contingent.
Ontario's own father & son Blanchet Racing two-car team effort and Kars, Ontario Andrew Bearss Dow Honda brought their two Honda Civics hoping to top the Touring Class podium. All of the teams have stepped up to the plate and brought the best of the best in racing hardware. The fans were entertained to some of the hottest & exciting on-track action during Saturdays practice, qualifying and 20-minute heat race in both classes.
The series was very happy to see Andrew Wojteczko back in Super Touring Class action with his Lexus IS300 after he was sidelined in round one with a motor that wasn't up to race condition. Roger Bowes and his Acura Integra from Kingston was back after having to replace a blown engine at Mosport just two short weeks ago and Mont St-Gregoire’s Jocelyn Facteau finally sorted out his Toyota Corrolla electrical gremlins for this weekends race.
Saturdays race was run under sunny cool conditions providing a clean dry track where the competitors could really put the power down on Shannonville’s "Full Track" configuration. From the pole Super Touring Class Wojteczko took a demanding early lead and never really looked back. Try as they may Lombardi Honda’s Nick Wittmer, Jean Francois Dumoulin & Mathieu Audette in his Acura RSX had their work cut out for them and try as they may they never could reel him in. Wittmer finished a distant second place 12 seconds back with Audette 22 seconds behind the leader.
The top five Touring Class drivers diced amongst themselves for the entire 20 minute race as Anthony Rapone piloting his Honda Civic SI held MINI Cooper driver, Alain Lauziere, at bay until Lauziere's clutch malfunctioned sidelining him with only 4 laps to go. Nigel Heron put his Acura Integra in the second spot securing him an outside pole start for Sundays 40-minute feature race. Farther back in the pack the battles were intense as Paris Ontario resident Aldo Lombardi, Roger Bowes & Honda Civic driver Tom Kwok battled for position the entire race. The high level of competition is fierce through the entire field this year have to work hard to get and keep every position they earn. Saturday’s podium results were 1st place going once again to Anthony Rapone, 2nd place Nigel Heron and 16 seconds back for third spot Aldo Lombardi.
Sunday morning the drivers took to the track for a brief 15-minute warm up session to work out any last minute set-up changes for the afternoon 40-minute race. 36 cars made their way to the grid for what was to be a cruel joke by Mother Nature. As the drivers made their way to the front straight of the track for pre race gridding procedures a light rain began to fall that quickly turned to hail then snow followed by freezing rain. Not what the drivers & crews were expecting for an end of May. With the drivers already committed to running their dry "slicks" it was obvious that the race was going to be intense to say the least.
Pole sitter Andrew Wojteczko led the field for the two customary pace laps to the green flag start. Lombardi Honda driver Nick Wittmer jumped to an early lead going into turn one followed closely by with Wojteczko (Lexus), Mathieu Audette (Acura), Jean Francois Dumolin (Honda) and Etienne Borgeat (BMW). Borgeat’s race was cut short on the very first lap as three cars came together just exiting the hairpin. Fast Wheels driver Lee Chaplin and his Hyundai Tiburon, Borgeat were done for the day when both cars experienced heavy crash damage. This incident brought out a 2 lap full course yellow that allowed cleanup crews to remove the damaged cars as 1st place Wojteczko crossed the start/finish line. Wittmer held the lead for the first lap only to be overtaken by Wojteczko exiting the Carousel Corner.
Nigel Krikorian driving his Can Jam/Versace sponsored Subaru WRX STi, 2008 ST Class champion used his all wheel drive to fight his way up from his 9th place starting position to second place overall in 4 short laps after dueling with Audette and Wittmer as the track quickly went from dry to slick. From his 6th place starting position Greg Pootmans had his hands full dealing with Honda driver Gary Kwok and Jean Francois Dumolin for a few laps before securing third place for the balance of the 14 laps.
Vaudreuil, Quebec’s and 2007 Touring Class champion, Alain Lauziere was a man on a mission. After being sidelined after seven laps during Saturdays race with a clutch slave cylinder failure in his MINI Cooper. Being true to his form he came from the back of the 36 car field to not only challenge and pass all 12 Touring Class drivers but to take the lead away from class leading Anthony Rapone with two laps to go. Andrew Bearss (Honda) and Nigel Heron (Acura) diced back and forth for 11 laps when Heron lost control exiting the carousel turn allowing Bearrs to relax a little and secure his third place finish 30 seconds back from class winner Lauziere. Unfortunately for Bearss the third place finish was awarded to Heron after he was penalized one lap for a pass under yellow flag infraction.
Fantastic drives to be noted were from Ottawa driver Alex Healy (Acura RSX) who was battling cooling problems, came from 34th place to finish 11th overall and Nicolas Krikorian (Subaru) from the 38th spot to 18th overall.The teams now have two short weeks to get their cars ready to compete in Round three of the 8 event championship where they will be returning to Mosport International Raceway for the Mosport High Octane Weekend June 13-14 2009.
For further information, check out http://www.touringcar.ca/ for the latest championship news.- -The Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship Presented By Toyo Tires is Canada's Premiere Touring Car Series and features Canada's Best Drivers Racing Today's Hottest Touring Cars. The Championship is showcased at eight event weekends in Quebec and Ontario with marquee events at Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres and Honda Indy Toronto.
For more information on Toyo Tires, please visit http://www.toyotires.ca/. Toyo manufactures and distributes a complete line of replacement tires for high performance cars, luxury vehicles, light trucks and SUVs as well as tires for commercial trucks, buses and off-road and construction applications.