Sylvain Lacombe Wins ACT CASTROL Series Race at Montmagny Speedway by Marc Patrick Roy
Tempers Flare Following Several On-Track Incidents
It took four events for Terrebonne, Québec’s Sylvain Lacombe, the 2005 LMS Champion, to win a race on the ACT Castrol Series.  Rookie driver Spencer MacPherson of Carleton Place, Ontario and Jean-François Déry of Val Bélair, Québec completed the podium at Montmagny.

It was a great day for racing at Montmagny.
When it all began on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, 23 Late Model cars lined the pits of Montmagny Speedway, a 3/8ths of a mile track 40 minutes outside Québec City, for a chance to win the fourth leg of the twelve races championship.

During practice sessions the cars of Sylvain Lacombe (18.23 seconds), Patrick Laperle (18.23), Donald Theetge (18.24 seconds) and Karl Allard (18.25 seconds) were close together and setting the fastest laps.  Most of the other drivers were clocking laps less than 1/10th off this very fast pace.  Therefore, everything was in place for a very exciting 100 lap race.

A surprise entry was filed by Donald Theetge, who is not a regular on the ACT CASTROL Series.  Theetge was convinced by his crew, during the week, to “come and play” after winning the season opening event at Montmagny.  One notable and very fast driver missing was Alexandre Gingras.  Early in the first practice session Gingras, who won
In the third heat, Karl Allard of St-Félicien finished first.  He was followed by Normand Lavigueur of Chomedey, Jean-François Déry, Alexandre Gingras of Québec, Donald Theetge of Boischatel, Rejean Blanchet of St-Tite-des-Caps and Eric Lehoux of Ste-Marie de Beauce. 

In the semi feature, Dany Ouellet captured the win convincingly.  The work his crew did during the week was once again paying off.  Yvon Bédard finished second and Eric St-Gelais was third.  Behind them were Marc-André Cliche, Simon Roussin, Karl Allard, Jean-François Déry, Normand Lavigueur and Claude Leclerc.  The only incident of the race was when Leclerc, who was running a strong fifth at the time, spun out when everyone checked up for St-Gelais (running second) who exited turn four sideways.  No caution flag was thrown.

Next, it was time for the crews to be in the spotlight for a tire changing competition.  Each team had to two opportunities to replace the two right side tires, to become the titleholders of the fastest crew on pit road.  A loose lug nut would result in a 5 second penalty, while running over the air hose would result in a 10 second penalty.

Using the ACT plus and minus line up procedure, Daniel Bergeron and Dany Ouellet started on the front row of the feature race.  At the green flag, Bergeron took the lead, while Ouellet, MacPherson, Bédard, St-Gelais settled behind him.  Bergeron would build a significant lead until the first caution.
The event’s first caution came out on lap 17, when third place driver Steven Boissoneault, started six, plowed Dany Ouellet running in second as they exited turn four.  Ouellet went into a spin and by some miracle the whole field managed to drive around him who was sitting in the middle of the track.  The cars of Kevin Roberge, Jacques Poulin and Jean-François Déry all entered the pits with different levels of bodywork damage.  Roberge and Poulin would rejoin the field in time for the green flag.  Meanwhile Déry, still in the pits, saw his crew scramble to bypass his rear brakes with vice-grip pliers as the field went to green.

On the restart, Daniel Bergeron, the leader, who exited just a little high coming out of four found himself sandwiched, between Éric St-Gelais, started fourth, who tucked in low from his third place position, and Yvon Bédard, started third, who was on the outside.  There was no room for the three of them going into one, after contact Bergeron spun and brought out the second caution of the race.  Since not one lap was run under green, Déry lucked out and rejoined the field with completed repairs and managed to remain on the lead lap.

The #80 team won the pit crew contest at Montmagny.
It to last week’s ACT CASTROL Series event at Capital City Speedway, realized he had a bad differential, most likely a consequence of his Autodrome St-Eustache spectacular accident earlier this season.  He was forced to the sidelines as the practice sessions went on, but his crew work quickly and he was ready by the time he had to roll for his qualifying run.

Dany Ouellet of La Pocatière, on a rebound from a disappointing performance at Capital City, a week before, finished a strong first in the first qualifying race.  He finished ahead of Eric St-Gelais of St-Nicholas and East Broughton’s Jacques Poulin, Spencer MacPherson, Jonathan Desbiens of Lévis, Stéphane Durand of Québec and Kevin Roberge of Lévis.

In qualifying heat race number two,  Martin Lacombe of Terrebonne ran away with the win and was followed across the line by Simon Roussin of Québec, Claude Leclerc of Montreal, Marc-André Cliche of Vallée Jonction, Steveen Boissoneault of Lyster, Patrick Laperle of St-Denis-sur-richelieu and Sylvain Lacombe.  In post race inspection Martin Lacombe’s win was disqualified for being too low.

Theetge (#60) and Laperle (#91) raced close at Montmagny - maybe too close.
At the green flag, Bédard took command of the race and would go on to lead the next 12 laps.  On lap 30, despite being faster and trying for the last 5 or so laps, Patrick Laperle successfully passed Bédard, who was making is car very wide, for the lead.  At the time, the order of cars was: Laperle, Bédard, Roussin, Cliche, Gingras, Sylvain Lacombe, Theetge, St-Gelais, Lavigueur and Boissoneault.  Just a lap later (lap 31), Roussin and Gingras had quickly gone around Bédard who was now under pressure by Donald Theetge.

On lap 34, the third caution flag was waved for the spinning car of Stephan Durand just outside turn four.  The order of cars was: Laperle, Roussin, Gingras, Bédard, Sylvain Lacombe, Theetge, Leclerc, St-Gelais, Lavigueur, MacPherson, Martin Lacombe, Lehoux, Blanchet, Allard, Boissoneault, Déry, Ouellet, Poulin, Desbiens, Bergeron, Roberge,  Cliche and Durand.  At the restart, with Laperle leading, Gingras tucks behind him for second.  Roussin, Sylvain Lacombe, Theetge, Bédard and Leclerc followed him around.
On lap 47, the caution flag was waived, for the rookie driver Kevin Roberge who went into a solo spin.  At this point, the field’s top 15 was: Laperle, Sylvain Lacombe, Gingras, Theetge, Leclerc, Bédard, St-Gelais, Lavigueur, Roussin, Martin Lacombe, Boissoneault, MacPherson, Déry, Allard and Ouellet.

The fifth yellow came out on lap 53, after Eric St-Gelais came down, in between turns three and four, on the car of JF Déry, who had tried to capitalize on St-Gelais’ bad entry, and spun out.  Once the field was repositioned and ready to go back to green, the formation was judged out of alignment by the flagman and the restart was refused.  Laperle had a whole car length ahead of Lacombe.  Crew radio chatter was reporting this as a strategy by the veteran, Lacombe, to to tuck in just behind Laperle and run the low line.

On the second try, the green flag was waived, but only momentarily, when Yvon Bédard got up to speed his hood came up blocking his windshield, most likely a consequence of damage sustained in the aborted start just moments before.  He spun out going into turn one bringing out the sixth caution flag.

With Bédard visiting the pits for a quick service, the field was lined up and got back to green flag racing.  But once again, it would only be momentarily, as the field came around to complete the lap, contact occurred between the cars of Leclerc and Simon Roussin coming out of turn four.  As a consequence, Roussin’s car made contact with the outside wall damaging the front end of his car and came to a rest on the high side of the track just at the feet of the flagman’s tower.  Steveen Boissoneault made light contact with him and continued on, but it wasn’t so for Éric Lehoux who collected the standing car of Roussin.  Others also involved and with no where to go, were the cars of Dany Ouellet and Réjean Blanchet.  The red flag was shown (and seventh caution flag), to stop the cars on the backstretch, in an effort to facilitate the recovery of the damaged vehicles by the safety crew.  The cars of Roussin and potentially Blanchet sustained structural damage.  Roussin, very upset with Leclerc, jogged over to the backstretch to
give him a piece of his mind. Track officials quickly got Roussin under control.  “This man is out of control.  Is he too old to be driving?  He deliberately shoved me in the wall” commented Roussin following the event to anyone that came by asking for his vision of the incident.

Once the field resumed to green flag racing with Laperle leading, Donald Theetge and Alexandre Gingras quickly went around Sylvain Lacombe dropping him to fourth place.  Leclerc, Lavigueur, Déry, MacPherson, Poulin and Bergeron were right behind them.

On lap 56, Normand Lavigueur, the St-Eustache winner, is sent into a violent spin just after the flagman, collects and knocks over a first Jersey barrier, spins another 180 degree and connects and knocks over a second Jersey barrier.  This brought out the second red flag (and eight yellow) of the race.  “I am not going to go over to him, but the young Ontario driver [Spencer MacPherson] never let go and contacted me right here” said Normand Lavigueur, after the race, and pointing to driver’s side of his heavily damaged race car.

The field, once again stopped on the back stretch with the order at that time being: Laperle, Theetge, Gingras, Lacombe, Déry, MacPherson, Poulin, Bergeron, St-Gelais, Roberge, Boissoneault, Leclerc, Desbiens, Bédard and Allard.

Once back under green, everyone was standing and watching the side-by-side battle, between Laperle and Theetge, classic short track stock car racing at its best.  Coming back around, on lap 56, at the flagstand Theetge edged out Laperle, by a nose, to become the events fourth leader. 

On the backstretch, Theetge had a half car length on Laperle. As they came to turn
three, Theetge entered very deep and fast, too fast, and went very high, Laperle
hugging the low line got back even with Theetge.  As they went down the front stretch,
once again, Theetge built a small advantage over Laperle.  As they went into turn
one, Laperle on the inside, Theetge on the outside, contact was made and the two
went into a spin bringing out the ninth yellow. Alexandre Gingras, running third,
sustained the most damage in this incident, with the nose of his car crushed back,
when he hit the spinning car of Laperle.  Theetge, Laperle, Gingras would visit the pits
under the yellow flag condition.

When the race resumed, Sylvain Lacombe inherited the lead on lap 57, he was
followed by JF Déry, MacPherson, Poulin, St-Gelais, Bergeron, Boissoneault and
Bédard.  Lacombe would go on to lead the remaining laps challenged only by JF
Déry, who had been running since lap 18 with no rear brakes.  Déry while he showed
Lacombe he was there, never forced the issue, as he and his crew were concerned
with the hood of his car ripping open should there be front end contact, since the hood was being held closed with the help of only racing tape [he had made contact on the lap 17 incident].

Theetge and Laperle worked their way back to finish the race in 8th and 9th positiosn respectively, without further on-track incidents between the two. 

After the race when asked his opinion of the mid race incident, Theetge responded, “Laperle just can’t stand being passed on the outside.  I ran on the outside of him and he just drove into me.  Just like he did to me at Vallée last year.  The Laperles just can’t win in Québec and it drives them nuts.” 

A few minutes later, when I asked Patrick Laperle his version of the incident he responded with “I can’t believe how he can claim to be a champion.  On the backstretch before the green he kept hitting me trying to ruin my toe, then he pushed me in the speed bumps.  It was intimidation.  After the first lap back to green, going into turn one, he came down on me.  He hadn’t cleared me.  What kind of champion does this?  He wants a fight, I’ll give him a fight”.

While Sylvain Lacombe had a fast car, he only briefly showed his muscle, when attacking Patrick Laperle for the lead early on and later to protect the top spot from Jean-François Déry.  Lacombe, while this is second time on the podium in four races, this is first event win on ACT CASTROL Series.  “I waited for Theetge and Laperle to make a mistake or to take themselves out.  I definitely could have challenged them for the lead, my team gave me a great car” said Lacombe during post race inspection.

“Wow.  I never taught we would finish this good.  At the first yellow, I told my crew there was a problem with the rear brakes.  They found out the rear callipers had shifted on the housing bracket damaging the hose.  We decided to pinch the lines and run only with front brakes.  Even with only front brakes I went back thru the field, took advantage of the other’s misfortune and ontrack incidents.  Once again the crew gave me a great car and this finish just increased our position on top of the standings” declared Jean-François Déry.

The rookie, Spencer MacPherson, finished third, was really excited with his finish. “We started fifth, wanted a top ten finishing position, so third is really sweet for us.  Last time we came here we finished fifteen.  This was a race of attrition, we managed to stay out of trouble and fought our way back to the top after our car faded really bad early on” said MacPherson.

“Second week in a row we go home with a car without damage.  What could I ask for more? Well there is always more financial support, you know, were a small team” said Daniel Bergeron, who finished sixth. 

Amazingly, Bergeron goes to the races with only three or four crew members, including his teen daughter, and hauls to and from the racetrack with an open trailer…  in the age of transporters (averaging half a million dollar) and multi car teams.

Following the race, I asked, track owner and promoter, Ralph Nason for his comments and appreciation on the event:

“This was a very competitive field,” said Nason.  “The fans had a good race, too bad there weren’t more of them here today.  It’s sunny and hot.  A great group of racers and a good car count.  A fair price was being charged (25$ Canadian) for admission.  Everything a race fan should be asking for.  It’s too bad.  Stock Car fan enthusiasm is down, here at Montmangy, in Maine and everywhere.”

Fin pos (starting pos) driver, hometown, laps completed, reason out

1. (11) Sylvain Lacombe, Terrebonne, QC, 100
2. (15) Jean-Francois Déry, Val-Belair, Qc, 100
3. (5) Spencer MacPherson, Carleton Place, ON, 100
4. (21) Jacques Poulin, East Broughton, Qc, 100
5. (4) Eric St-Gelais, St-Nicolas, Qc, 100
6. (1) Daniel Bergeron,  St-Benoit, Qc, 100
7. (6) Steven Boissonneault, Lyster, Qc, 100
8.  (13) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Qc, 100
9. (9) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Qc, 100
10. (3) Yvon Bedard, St-Nicolas, Qc, 100
11. (16) Karl Allard, St-Felicien, Qc, 100
12. (20) Kevin Roberge, Levis, Qc, 99
13. (2) Dany Ouellet, La Pocatiere, Qc, 91
14. (12) Alexandre Gingras, Québec, Qc, 87, Overheating
15. (35) Jonathan Desbiens, Levis, Qc, 78, Suspension
16. (10) Claude Leclerc, Lanouraie, Qc, 75, Overheating
17.  (18)  Stephane Durand. Québec, Qc, 66, Engine
18.  (14) Normand Lavigeur, Laval, Qc, 55, Wreck
19. (8) Simon Roussin, Québec, Qc, 53, Wreck
20. (22) Martin Lacombe, Terrebonne, Qc, 53, Ignition
21. (19)  Eric Lehoux, Ste-Marie, Beauce, Qc, 53, Wreck
22. (17) Rejean Blanchet, St-Tite-des-Caps, Qc, 53, Wreck
23. (7) Marc-Andre Cliche, Vallee-Jonction, Qc, 41, Overheating

Rank      Team1st try/2nd tryBest Time PenaltiesTotal timeTime to servicePenaltiesTotal time
1#80 Donald Theetge17.48-17.4818.08-18.0817.48
2#21 J-F Déry18.501 x 5 sec23.5017.49-17.4917.49
3#9 Yvon Bédard--DNF20.58-20.5820.58
4#91 Patrick Laperle22.212x5,1x1042.2118.701 x 5 sec23.7023.70
5#28 Dany Ouellet24.00-24.0025.95-25.9524.00
6#66 Simon Roussin24.162 x 5 sec34.1622.442 x 5 sec32.4432.44

NOTE - Due to technical problems, this race story was delayed from appearing on immediately after the race.

The podium finishers from Montmagny.
Normand Lavigeur's wrecked Late Model.