Monday 11 July 2022 by Philippe Brasseur
The third event of the 2022 season of the SPC (Super Production Challenge) series, the ICAR GT Challenge, took place last weekend at the ICAR complex in Mirabel. Under a ubiquitous sun, entrants in the SP, Production and Compact classes each competed for three races, with the SPs alone on the track while Production and Compact were grouped together.
It is the first time since 2015 that the SPC has offered separate races in this way and it must be admitted that this has somewhat diminished the spectacle. Also for the pilots, not having to deal with the traffic of the other categories took away a strategic element that is one of the attractions of the SPC.
It should be understood that the ICAR circuit is homologated for a maximum of 34 cars at a time and the total number of SPC entries exceeds this number this season. However, from free practice on Friday, several drivers saw their race weekend end prematurely, such as former champion Jacques Gravel (broken engine of his BMW), Charles-André Bilodeau or even the rookie in the series Charles Dépatie, forcibly left the track with the Nissan Z of the XTrême Motorsports team, driven by Kurt Wittmer at the start of the season.
The first race scheduled, early on Saturday afternoon, let Olivier Bédard (Nissan Z) win easily. Although the reigning champion increased his lead halfway through the race to ten seconds over Eric Hochgeschurz (BMW 330i), he won by 4 tenths of a second at the finish.
Jimmy Brière (Hyundai Genesis) completed the podium at the end of a solo race, ahead of Gabriel Lacombe (Honda Civic Si), who started last. Marc Héroux (Chevrolet Camaro), Christopher Bernier (BMW 323i), Michael Habrich (Nissan Z) and Éric Chaput, who started the series with another Nissan Z from the Xtreme Motorsports team (replacing Torontonian Nicholas Hornbostel), have been followed to the Top 8.
The second race of the day (pictured above) pitted the Production and Compact classes against each other and was dominated by Ontario team Ry-Spec’s Toyota GT86s. However, it was rookie Connor Bell who won, six seconds ahead of championship leader Owen Clarke. Bell, a young driver from Ottawa, entered his first official car race in his life and he demonstrated the full extent of his talent by driving incredibly fast laps while being very careful in the traffic of the Compact class cars he doubled. about the laps. Connor Bell is definitely a driver we’ll be talking about in the coming days!
Clarke finished second, ahead of Nelson Chan (Mini Cooper), Kai Dalziel (Subaru BRZ), Yannick Lupien (Mini Cooper), Alexandre Brosseau (Honda Civic), Suellio Almeida (Toyota GT86) and Crystel Charest (Mini Cooper).
The best show came from the Compact class. Rookies Vincent Desautels (Honda Fit) and Étienne Samson Laflamme (Toyota Echo Cup) battled it out for much of the race, with Samson Laflamme eventually winning by 3 seconds over Desautels. Sylvain Ouellet (Nissan Micra) finished 3rd, ahead of Patrik Wittmer (Honda Fit) and other recruits, namely Éric Coulombe (Chevrolet Sonic), Nathan Mutch (Toyota Écho Cup) and Stéphane Day (Nissan Micra) who did not let go from first to the last round.
On Sunday, the 2nd and 3rd races were held in the ICAR Complex, always under the sun and in a very relaxed atmosphere, to the delight of fans and participants. The first race in the morning was for the SP class and was won by Jimmy Brière, ahead of Olivier Bédard. Qualified on pole, Bédard raffled for 8th place on the grid. He missed a few laps in this 30 minute race to hope for victory in Brière. Héroux, Lacombe, Arek Wojciechowski (BMW 330i), Éric Chaput, Michael Habrich and Pierre-André Gosselin (BMW M235i Cup) completed the Top 8.
In the production and compact race, Owen Clarke returned to victory ahead of Connor Bell. The latter had been given a three-place penalty at the start for exceeding the track limits during qualifying and finished just 5 hundredths of a second behind Clarke! Dalziel completed the podium and hat-trick for the Ry-Spec team, ahead of Nathan Block (Toyota GT86), Sylvain Laporte (Mini Cooper), Chan, Almeida and Lupien.
In the Compact class, Vincent Desautels achieved this first victory that had narrowly escaped him the day before. Sylvain Ouellet, Patrik Wittmer, Éric Coulombe, Steven Scala (Toyota Echo Cup) and Nathan Mutch completed the Top 6.
The final race of the day in SP enabled Arek Wojciechowski to take his first win of the day, ahead of Olivier Bédard, Jimmy Brière, Marc Héroux and Éric Chaput, author of the pole position in just his first race weekend in series! Michael Habrich, Gabrielle Lacombe and Pierre-André Gosselin completed the round of the top 8.
Race 3 for the Production and Compact rounded out the event, with Connor Bell again on his way to victory. Clarke finishes 4 seconds behind his teammate. Block, Laporte, Lupien, Carlos Tasler-Mabe (Mini Cooper), Samuel Laquerre (Honda Civic) and Almeida followed.
In the Compact class, veteran Patrik Wittmer returned to victory after a great battle with another veteran veteran, Sylvain Ouellet. The two drivers finish with only 4 tenths of a second difference. The Top 6 is completed by Desautels, Coulombe, Mutch and Day.
This success for Wittmer brings the number of different winners over the weekend to 8, over 9 races (Production and Compact combined). Also note that the departures were launched on Saturday. All races on Sunday, on the other hand, were with standing starts, as is the tradition in the series.
For the full ranking, click here. Don’t miss our photo galleries of the event by Marie-Lyse Tremblay and Bruno Dorais, by clicking here.
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