By: Mathieu Fortin
CORNWALL, ON – Opening night in Cornwall It was scheduled for May 15. Then the rain put it back to the 22nd, before finally putting it back to this evening. But nothing was going to stop the Cornwall track from kicking off its season tonight.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of Marcel Lafrance, a former driver who marked the history of the track and who unfortunately died during the off-season. The track announced a Picard Mobile Truck Repair modified series finale divided into 3 segments of 15 laps, Lafrance’s number, and for the occasion, Brian “Slim” McDonald would drive a car with the number 15 and the colors that Lafrance had at the time.
Note that we also had a key event to close the evening, with a 35 lap final for the Clyde Sligner Pro-Stock Series. For the event, renowned pilots came from all over. Bruno Cyr drove 6 hours to be there. In addition, a few newcomers were there, including drivers Maxime Foley (ex Lightning Sprint), Eric Loyer (ex Novice Sportsman) and Brandon MacMillan (ex mini stock) who were making their debut in this class.
Mini Stocks, with the Frank Belair Memorial Series, had the honor of kicking off the season and they did not disappoint. Starting on pole, the defending champion Alexis Charbonneau faced an attack from Pierre Picard who ended up overtaking him at the start of the race, but Charbonneau regained the lead on the restart following Picard’s choice to take the outside line, which allowed a Charbonneau to have a perfect raise from within. The defending champion will keep the lead until the checkered flag, and seems to be the driver to beat again this season.
For the modified race, the tribute to Marcel Lafrance had a format of 3 segments of 15 laps. The points would not be counted although the pilots present had points of presence. Absent from the track is Brianna Ladouceur, who was still there as a spectator as she and her boyfriend Mario are expecting their first child.
The first segment is the affair of Carey Terrance, who starts on pole and keeps the lead until the end of the segment. An inversion of 3 is then drawn, which allows Louie Jackson Jr to take the pole of the second segment. We had a big scare on lap 29 when the 54R car driven by Evan Racine hit the wall hard at turn number 4. Fortunately, Evan got out of his car himself. With one lap to go on the relaunch, Jackson maintains his lead to win the second segment. An inversion of 9 is drawn for the 3rd segment, which places Luke Whitteker in the lead position, he who was driving the 124 car of Pierre Dagenais for the occasion. On lap 40, Brian McDonald, in car 15, came close to overtaking Whitteker at turn 4, but the latter resisted. With 5 turns to go, McDonald’s will try again each time in that same turn until the end. And it was on the last lap that McDonald finally succeeded in overtaking to win the race.
Now for the Sportsman. A grid of 31 cars is present. Among the drivers coming from other categories, Shane Pecore (ex modified), Tristan Ladouceur (reigning Novice Sportsman champion) and Jeremie Goyette (ex mini stock) are among the number. For Goyette, he will race in the Novice Sportsman class for the rest of the season, but has decided to race with the regular class tonight. Note that Pecore and Goyette also each brought a new fan. Pecore’s daughter and Goyette’s son were born during the off season, and were looking good around the track. Also worth noting is the return of Adam Rozon, who is back in his number 3 car after taking a break from racing. Another unusual driver was Sean Imbeault who we had the pleasure of welcoming this weekend.
William Racine, who has been winning races since last year, starts on pole in the Next Level Home Improvement Sportsman race. However, Cédric Gauvreau made sure to take the lead from the start and took the lead. A yellow flag is waved on the 5th lap. However, this would not be indicative of the rest of the race because it would be the last. Gauvreau regains the lead on the restart and will no longer be worried. He won a victory that seemed easy. If Cédric decides to do the full season with us, he will be one to watch for the championship. Note that the only yellow flag for 31 cars demonstrates the quality of the field.
The pro stock class is in the finals and as always the show is excellent. Eric Jean-Louis is starting from the pole. There will be several changes of leaders between Bruno Cyr, Bruno Richard and Marc Lalonde. Once again, it’s in the last turn that everything is decided when Bruno Richard overtakes Bruno Cyr to take the victory. The two Brunos gave quite a show and I can’t wait to see them back on the track. Among our regulars, Marc Lalonde seems to be a candidate to watch for the title.
There was also a Vintage car race but the names of the drivers not being in the track system as it is a non-regular class, unfortunately I could not get access to all the names of all participants but the winners were Steve Billings (in the main class) and Pat Charland (for the older cars).
Note that next week, we will have our 5 regular classes. Among the races to watch are the Race for the Cure Sportsman and Farnham Pro Stock series. The winner of the latter will get $1000. Additionally, there will be the debut of the excellent Fun Zone Party Inflatables Novice Sportsman series.