15-year-old Jesse Lazare aboard his Piper DF5/Honda impressed as he made his debut in the Formula Tour 1600 Series this past weekend at the famous Circuit Mont-Tremblant. His first-ever laps on the world class track came during the promoter’s test day on the Thursday. As he had done two weeks prior at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, he quickly came to grips with the high-speed facility and was comfortably in the top ten. Marc Bishara had two solid races and continues to learn and set some personal best laps in the process.
Qualifying for the first of the two rounds yielded a 10th place starting spot. Traffic proved tough in qualifying as Lazare’s times were slower that it had been in the previous sessions. The 15-lap event went off in the heat of the afternoon and proved to be an excellent race throughout the field. Lazare picked his way forward with some slick passes and with some attrition thrown in, he crossed the line in a superb 4th place.
With a 6th place qualifying position for the Sunday event, the hopes for a podium were building. A good start saw Jesse in a group of cars battling for the 3rd position. As the laps counted off the intensity grew with positions swapping every lap with Lazare now running in 3rd. A full course caution interrupted the battle and set up a wild finish. The green flag waved to restart the race with only three laps to go. Lazare stumbled on the restart erasing any chance of attacking the lead duo and bringing immense pressure from his pursuers as he held the 3rd position, he fought off the challenges to capture a fantastic 3rd position on his first Formula Tour 1600 event just one second behind the winner.
“What a great weekend for BGR and our driver Jesse Lazare! Two weeks ago he started his openwheel career with us at one of the most daunting tracks in the world at Mosport and came away with two podiums and has now backed that up with an impressive debut at another of the worlds most challenging tracks. We made steady progress throughout the week and this is just a sign of things to come,” said team principal Brian Graham. “We are thrilled with our Piper/Honda package and continue to learn every day with it and develop our data base. It is always nice coming to the Formula Tour events and will be back for more. The guys did an excellent job this weekend in the heat. Marc also is coming along and at this point just needs some more seat time to move up the grid.”
The team is now preparing for a trip to the USA based Pro F1600 Series at Mid-Ohio in late July. Testing prior to that round will take place next week. The team gets no break after Mid-Ohio as it then heads straight to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for the next rounds of the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship with a full slate of drivers, rookie points leader Jack Mitchell Jr, Jesse Lazare, Kieran Murphy, and Marc Bishara will make his debut in the series as he visits the track for the first time.
BGR Team Grote has put more drivers in the winners circle than any other team in OFFC history and continues to strive to provide the perfect environment for karters to make the transition to the open wheel ranks. The winners of the past six consecutive years of Rookie of the Year will be looking to continue that tradition this season. To learn more about the team visit www.briangrahamracing.com.