It was a soggy ending to the opening weekend of the 2015 Coupe du Quebec Championship at SRA Karting as after dark clouds loomed all day long, they finally opened up during the Finals and forced the back half of the classes to switch over to rain tires.
Nine categories were on track, including the new ROK Shifter class which saw the return of 6-speed shifter kart racing in Quebec. It was a pleasant day at the track, but a concerning one with only 71 entries, a topic we will get into with a feature article later this week.
And with the new season we got our first look at the who’s who for 2015, with some new faces rising up to the top of their categories. We also got a view of the manufacturers battle for 2015, which will mainly see only two colours competing; Red vs Blue, as BirelART is flown by PSL Karting and Ben Cooper Racing, while SH Racing is supporting the FA Kart colours. The three teams covered a majority of the entries.
Here is our report on the Senior classes, while you read about the Junior categories here.
Demers Shines in the Rain in Briggs Senior
In the dry, defending Briggs & Stratton Senior Canadian Champion Jean-Francois Lafontaine (BirelART) was very tough to beat, qualifying on the pole and leading flag to flag in the PreFinal. However just as the Briggs Senior drivers rolled on track for their Final, the rain brought out the red flag and drivers and mechanics made the switch to the rain tires during a brief delay.
Lafontaine got a nice jump when the race restarted with Sebastien Laviolette (CRG), Vincent Cyr (Birel), Maxime Couturier (TonyKart) and Mathieu Demers (Kosmic) in tow. But only a handful of laps in the leaders began to separate and Demers was working his way forward.
It didn’t take much to get by Lafontaine and from there Demers simply checked out to take the win in the season opener for the second straight year. Lafontaine managed to hang on to second place until the final lap when his right-rear tire fell off, victim to broken wheel studs, ending his race a lap early. This elevated Simon Belanger (FA Kart) up into second and completing the podium was Laviolette after a penalty to Couturier for contact moved him back to fourth.
Couturier Tops Senior Max Final
Maxime Couturier celebrated his second podium result of the day in the Rotax Senior Max category, the featured a dismal six entries.
In the rain, Couturier (SC Performance/TonyKart) battled with Dave Laplante (SH Racing/FA Kart) and Didier Carre (Ben Cooper Racing/BirelART) for the lead in the Final after Carre controlled the action in the dry.
Laplante did cross the finish line first ahead of Courturier and Carre, but a start violation resulted in a 3-second penalty to Laplante, awarding the win to Couturier, while Leplante settled for the third podium position behind Carre.
Excellent battle in Briggs Masters
The closest and most exciting race of the day went to the guys in Briggs & Stratton Masters. Separated from the Seniors for 2015, the Masters class featured 12 drivers and great racing throughout the field.
The final came down to a four-kart race on the final lap with David Michaud (FA Kart) leading the way over Guy Savard (FA Kart), Eric Beltrami (BirelART) and Serge Boisvert (BirelART).
The group shuffled a bit on the final lap, but no driver was able to top Michaud, allowing him to take the victory over Savard and Beltrami.
Legrand 1-2 in ROK Shifter Debut
It was a rocky introduction of the ROK Shifter class on Sunday. First they had to deal with the quiet pit rule not allowing them to warm up their engines, then when it came to their first race start, it took three attempts to get it right, and it was nowhere near perfect. But regardless, it was great to see some real shifter karts back on track.
When the racing finally got going, it was Dominic Legrand (CRG) who scored the win with his father Michel Legrand (CRG) finishing up behind him, while Alan Moreau overcame his many problems to complete the podium. Moreau was the fastest in qualifying but couldn’t convert the speed in both the PreFinal and Final races.
There were also a couple DD2 machines in the race that saw Dany St-Hilaire (PSL Karting/BirelART) claim the win in DD2 Masters while Alessandro Bizzotto (PSL Karting/BirelART) was the lone driver in DD2, utilizing the opportunity to test for the upcoming Rotax Open and Eastern Canadian Karting Championship events.
With round one in the books, the Coupe du Quebec now looks towards round two in a months time when it teams up with the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship for a double-header. Originally scheduled for Pointe du Lac, a recent change has the event now happening at ICAR in Mirabel on June 13 and 14.