Lavoie Leads Flag-to-Flag in Rainy ACT Castrol Series Race by Marc Patrick Roy
Autodrome Chaudiere Sees Some Close Action in Not So Many Laps
Friday, in front of a capacity crowd at Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée Jonction (Quebec), Michaël Lavoie of Saguenay, QC led flag to flag in the rained shorted, at 51 laps, Pro-Fab 100. It was the sixth event on the ACT Castrol Series schedule. Placing second was St-Denis, QC’s Patrick Laperle who started from the 14th in the event. Across the line in third, was ARCA driver and two-time Hooters Pro Cup Champion driver, Mario Gosselin of Lake Wales, Florida, who started in the seventh starting position.
There was a big crowd Friday night for the ACT Castrol Series. (ACT Photos)
Early on, in the first practice round, hometown favourite, Marc-André Cliche set the mark with some fast 13.2 seconds laps. Another favourite driver, Marc Bégin of nearby St-Philibert, was also very quick in the same lap time range. By the end of first round Michaël Lavoie, Jean-François Déry, Alexandre Gingras would all be in 13.2 seconds range.
Unfortunately, André Coursol of St-Jérôme was sidelined with a broken rear end.
“We were quick off the truck, the car was good,” said Coursol. “After some hot laps, I felt a vibration and noise developed in the rear. Following visual inspection we found the internal components of the quick change to be stripped. This mini-quick is light, but it is not durable, we only had about ten races on this quick change. It’s unfortunate, because I love this track and did well in the past, all this travel and we can not race” declared a disappointed Coursol.
“When Normand called about fixing the car we stopped everything and got ready for the work to be done. We were three people working fourteen hours a day for over two weeks to fix the car. Normand also gave us the opportunity to come and race. Which I am very thankful for and very excited about,” said Mario Gosselin. “Both him and Germain flew in on Thursday. “This is essentially a new car. Eveything was changed on it except the main cage” confessed Germain Gosselin, who is also a tire changer on his ARCA series ride.
On Thursday, Lavigueur crew members, Marc Lecavalier and Benoit Beauchamps, left the Florida compound at 13h00. They drove the hauler to Washington, where the third crew member Pierre Tremblay, met up to relieve the other two from driving duties. When they finally got to the Vallée Jonction race track, they had travelled 2678 km, or 1664 miles, from the Gosselin race shop, just in time for the last round of practice. “Super Mario” who raced this track only once in 2005, got on the track with an untested race car and by lap 6, ran the fastest time I clocked all day at 13.05 seconds. That’s when everyone realized he was not here just for show. He was here to win.
Heat #1 – Dany Ouellet started first and finished first. Steeven Boissoneault, Kevin Roberge, Stephane Lecours, a first time driver, Eric St-Gelais, Réjean Blanchet, Stéphane Durand and Jonathan Desbiens completed the field. The field was slowed once for the spin of Durand.
Heat #2 – The second heat was a straight up finish. The order was Martin Lacombe, Yvon Bédard, Marc Bégin, Claude Leclerc, Marc-André Cliche, Mario Gosselin, Stephan Legault and Éric Lehoux.
Heat #3 – The finishing order was Jacques Poulin, Sylvain Lacombe, Patrick Laperle, Karl Allard, Jean-François Déry, Alexandre Gingras, Simon Roussin and Daniel Bergeron.
Mario Gosselin and team unload the #35 machine.
In following rounds, Patrick Laperle in both, his car and in the car of Éric Lehoux (which he had helped rebuild during the week), set some very fast times in the 13.1 seconds. Other drivers dropping their lap times in the 13.1 seconds were: Karl Allard, Déry, Dany Ouellet, Yvon Bédard and Claude Leclerc.
Meanwhile the talk on pit road was the missing race car to be driven by “Super Mario” Gosselin. The car, normally driven by Normand Lavigueur of Chomedey, QC, was destroyed on June 16, exactly 13 days ago, at the Montmagny ACT Castrol race when he was sent spinning into concrete Jersey barriers. The following day, the car was sent to the Gosselin race shop in Florida for extensive repairs. The front and rear clips, all suspension components and a new body had to be fitted. It took three people to repair the car working everyday for extended hours. The car had not arrived yet.
Mario and his brother Germain who are both natives of Ste-Marie de Beauce, just minutes away from the track, now live in Lake Wales, Florida.
The semi feature race was a very exciting race won by Steeven Boissonault (started 3rd). Yvon Bédard was second (started 5th) and Patrick Laperle finished third (started 9th) after having from the last position of the nine car field. Behind them, Dany Ouellet (started 1st), Sylvain Lacombe (started 8th), Jacques Poulin (started 7th), Martin Lacombe (started 4th), Marc Bégin (started 6th) and Kevin Roberge (started 2nd).
The cars of Michaël Lavoie and Kevin Roberge lined the front row of the 25 cars field. A light shower fell on the cars during driver introduction. Race director, Tom Curley, was under pressure to get the show in, because of the ACT Tour race held the next day at White Mountain Motorsport Park, and little options on a make up date. He got the cars fired and ran some hot laps to dry out the track.
Then, just like as if Curley’s commands were heard somewhere high up, the rain stopped at about the same time. Once the drying process complete the field was crossed and given the one to go signal.
At the end of lap one, Lavoie was in the lead. He was followed by Ouellet, St-Gelais, Gosselin, Roberge, Bégin, Boissoneault, Desbiens, Déry, Martin Lacombe, Bédard, Leclerc, Roussin, Poulin and Laperle. Unfortunately, by lap four, the field was slowed down for rain bringing out the first caution period. After a few caution laps, the rain stopped, the field was once again given the one to go signal. Lavoie still in the lead, was followed by Ouellet, Bégin, Gosselin, Boissoneault.
By lap six, Bégin was now second over Ouellet. Over the next couple of laps he really worked hard on Lavoie but could not go around him. Further back in the field, Patrick Laperle, started 14th, and Alexandre Gingras, started 16th, were now ninth and tenth and moving fast towards the front.
On the 20th circuit, the caution flag was shown, the second of the event, to slow down the field when a multi car incident developed, in turn four, Gingras was hit from behind and spun out. Sylvain Lacombe, Éric Lehoux, Jacques Poulin were all involved but showed little damage.
Also sent to the rear was Jean-François Déry who said “I didn’t hit anyone. I don’t know why I was sent to the back of the field, that’s why, I went back to reposition myself to the front of the field. But the race officials sent me to the rear. I stopped because the track was blocked, but I didn’t hit anyone.”
At the restart, Boissoneault and Gosselin passed Bégin sending him to fourth. On lap 25, the field’s order was: Lavoie, Boissoneault, Gosselin, Bégin, Cliche, Laperle, Leclerc, Bédard, Bergeron, Allard, Martin Lacombe, Ouellet, Déry, Sylvain Lacombe, Lecours, Gingras, Poulin, Desbiens, St-Gelais, Blanchet, Roberge and Durand.
On lap 28, Laperle took fifth over Cliche.
At the lap 40 mark, Lavoie, the race leader, while working on lap traffic, made contact with the car of Blanchet, about to go a lap down, who in turn was trying to pass
another back marker, making it three wide. Blanchet did not discriminate, as he got in the way of all of the leaders shuffling the order of cars. On lap 43 the order was now: Lavoie, Boissoneault, Laperle, Cliche, Gosselin, Leclerc, Allard, Bégin and Bédard. Blanchet would be black flagged for his ontrack behaviour.
At the halfway, the yellow came out for the third time, when Bédard and Déry spun between turns 3 and 4. The order of cars was: Lavoie, Boissoneault, Laperle, Cliche, Gosselin, Leclerc, Allard, Bégin, Martin Lacombe, Ouellet, Gingras, Poulin, Desbiens, St-Gelais and Legault.
Under green, the field had completed only two laps, when Marc Bégin’s lost the hood of his car going down the backstretch. This forced a fourth caution period. While the cars were circling on the track under yellow, the rain started pouring again. To prevent further incidents, Race Director, Tom Curley, brought out the red flag bringing the cars to a stop. After several minutes of waiting out for the rain to stop, the race was called for rain when the rain fell with more force than it ever did at any point during the night.
The fast and wide 3/8ths mile oval gave lots of room to the racers to showcase their skills. The crowd didn’t seem to mind the light showers that affected the first 50 laps. Mother Nature did cheat fans out of 49 laps, but the first 51 were well worth the price of admission.
But once again, an ACT Castrol race outcome is affected by slower traffic. The eventual winner, Michaël Lavoie, did not lose is lead, but he did get sideways and Marc Bégin, who was second at the time, was able to pull up next to Lavoie. It could have meant a different headline. Other drivers were not so fortunate. as they were shuffled a couple positions back.
“This is my first Late Model win,” said Lavoie. “Of course, I would have preferred if my win would have come following an event going the full distance. I had a very good car and managed to save my tires. So I had a lot more for the others. I look forward to White Mountain tomorrow. I always did well there, they start 30 or 35 racers in 30 lap features and I managed to finish in the top 10 everytime.”
Laperle, who finished second, is now due for a win.
“I finished third in the last race, finished second this time, maybe next time its going to be first,” said Laperle. “I had a good car and would have liked to challenge Lavoie for the lead.”
Gosselin was happy to up there as well.
“I had a blast,” said Gosselin. “The car was excellent. To finish this good with a car that was just rebuilt is very exciting. To be racing in front of family is also very sweet. I definitely had enough to challenge Patrick. He was pushing, another 10 or 20 laps, and he was a done deal. Don’t know if I would have enough for Lavoie, I would have liked for the race to go the distance. On Sunday, we go back home to take care of the business we put aside to help out with the rebuild of the car.”
Normand Girard sponsored both the second and third place cars, and was very happy with the podium rundown.
“I am very happy to see both my cars in the top three,” said Girard. “Both Patrick and Mario drove a great race. I am so excited. I was confident in Mario’s ability to rebuild the car and have it competitive out of the box, but I didn’t expect this much. If Mario’s ARCA commitments are not conflicting, he will be back in the no35 car for the Oxford 250.
"I’d like to thank everyone who helped getting the car fixed this quickly. Special mention go to Benoit Beauchamps’ contribution. He drove to and from Florida and worked countless hours helping Mario’s team in the Florida shop.”
Rain shortened the race to just 51 laps.
Lavoie (#10) leads Laperle (#91)