Two events, each divided into two rounds to make up a total of four races, were held at Calabogie Motorsports Park, southwest of Ottawa this past Saturday, marking the first time that the SPC series kicked off its season in Ontario. With 21 of the 23 entered drivers starting the promising event, a constant downpour rendered the 5.5km track very tricky for all involved.
During the first round, Jacques Gravel (BMW 330i) executed an exceptional climb back up the leaderboard after stalling at the start and getting hit from behind by a Compact Class competitor. Sitting in last place at the first turn, he then overtook his adversaries one by one before finishing the race in second place, less than a second behind the victor, Sylvain Laporte, who dominated throughout the duration of this round in his Mini Cooper S. Behind Laporte and Gravel were, Guillaume Labbé (Volkswagen Jetta GLI), novice Sébastien Lamontagne (Acura RSX), Frédéric Magny (Mazda Speed 3), Maxime Paquet (Hyundai Tiburon), 2015 champion Marc Héroux (Toyota GT-86) and Alexandre Lapierre (Acura TSX). In Compact Class, Éric Bellemare (Honda Civic) finished eight-tenths of a second ahead of Kurt Wittmer (Honda Fit) who was competing in the first race of his career. Kevin Bastien (Mini Cooper) rounded out the podium.
The second round saw Sylvain Laporte come away with the victory once again ahead of Jacques Gravel and Marc Héroux, Éric Durand (Chevrolet Cobalt SS) and Éric Bellemare, winner of Compact Class and an impressive fifth overall. Éric Laporte (Honda Civic Si) finished in sixth and Kurt Wittmer in seventh overall, in addition to being first novice and second in Compact Class after having lead the category for a portion of the round.
The second race, also divided into two rounds, saw Jacques Gravel take control fairly quickly to then claim his first win of the season. Labbé, Durand, Héroux and Éric Bellemare completed the ''Top 5''. The first three finishers in Compact Class placed amongst the top seven overall as Bellemare's teammate, Gabriel Lacombe (Honda Civic) finished second after a tight battle with Kurt Wittmer. These two drivers were sixth and seventh overall, ahead of Éric Laporte.
The fourth and last round of the day was just as exciting as Jacques Gravel earned another victory to then take the lead of the drivers' championship standings, finishing seven seconds ahead of Guillaume Labbé. Alexandre Lapierre completed podium, followed by Éric Durand, Ontarian Greg Kierstead (Mazda MX-5) and Lamontagne.
The action in Compact Class held everyone's attention as the winner was decided in the last lap of the race when Kurt Wittmer took over the lead from Éric Bellemare and won by a mere half a second. Lacombe finished third, ahead of 2015 champion Julien Legris (Toyota Echo Hatchback).
Following this successful yet humid weekend at Calabogie, the next event of the 2016 SPC season will take place in Quebec, at Mirabel's Circuit ICAR on June 4th.
For more information, visit the official series site at : superproductionchallenge.com.