KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport Race at Le Circuit de Trois-Rivieres
Quebec’s Camirand equals all-time Circuit de Trois-Rivieres victory mark, while Lally wins again
Andy Lally won his second straight Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) race Sunday and in the process gave co-driver Marc-Antoine Camirand a record-tying eighth circuit victory in the 39th annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. The duo averaged a race record 71.910 mph.
Lally and Camirand combined to lead 74 of the 80 laps - including the final 49 - in the No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3, with Lally winning by 0.372 seconds over James Gue. It marked the team's first ever KONI Challenge victory, Camirand's second - both coming at the 1.521-mile Trois-Rivieres temporary circuit - and Lally's fourth. Lally won last Sunday's GS race at Iowa Speedway driving a Porsche 997 for TRG.
Lally came under fire from Gue late in the race when fellow Iowa Speedway co-winner Scott Schroeder stopped on the track. But Lally held his line and didn't allow the JBS Motorsports driver - who ran second for much of the event - past, and he held off a three-car train behind him.
Camirand started from the pole and led the opening 25 laps before diving into the pits for the team's only stop. When leader Joe Foster - who ran second to Camirand before pacing six laps - pitted under a full course caution on Lap 32, Lally obtained the lead and pushed the No. 79 ahead to more than a four-second advantage before the final caution.
In addition to his second KONI Challenge victory at Trois-Rivieres, it was the eighth victory for Camirand, of St. Leonard d'Aston, Quebec, on the Trois-Rivieres streets, tying Jacques Bienvenue for the most victories ever. Bienvenue set the mark in 1985.
Prior to Gue catching Lally, the main battle was for second. Gue was doing his best to hold off Billy Johnson, Craig Stanton and Scott Maxwell for several laps, with Johnson glued to his rear bumper for much of the race's second half. Stanton and Maxwell traded positions on occasion, but Maxwell - pushing for a season-best third GS victory with Foster - was assessed and stop-and-go penalty for jumping the race's final restart. The pair finished 10th.
For Gue and Bret Seafuse, it was the team's second podium finish in three races and third this season, and first of three Mustangs in the top five at Trois-Rivieres. In addition, the duo finished second last month at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shursave Ford Mustang GT. Gue and Seafuse also pulled to within 10 points (190-180) over leaders Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal, who finished 12th at Trois-Rivieres. The car was assessed a stop-and-go plus 60-second penalty after running over equipment during the team's only stop.
Johnson and co-driver Ray Mason were third in the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang GT - only 0.941 seconds - and the team's No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Products/Valvoline Ford Mustang GT - co-driven by Jack Roush Jr. and Dean Martin - was fifth.
It was also a good day for BGB Motorsports. Stanton and co-driver Jon Miller were fourth in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Performance Drink/Weeden Consultants Porsche 997, while Trois-Rivieres brothers Jean-Francois and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin finished sixth despite a small fire from under the car during the team's pit stop. Defending race winner Bill Auberlen and co-driver Matthew Alhadeff were seventh in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
KONI Challenge participants return to action Sunday, Aug. 31 at the Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J.
NEWS & NOTES
- Automatic's Best Run Eighth: Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal finished outside the top five for the first time this season with their 12th-place finish. Their teammates, Charlie Putman and Charles Espenlaub, finished the best of the team's three cars - eighth in the No. 91 BMW M3 - despite a spin by Espenlaub on the restart. The No. 99 BMW M3, driven by Steve Cameron and Rob Finlay, was 18th.
- Motorsport Technology Group Takes Ninth: Michael Auriemma and John Mayes took ninth in the No. 20 Motorsport Technology Group Porsche 997, the car's best finish of the season and first top 10.
- Manufacturer Championship Even Tighter: Only five points separated leaders Ford, Porsche and BMW (188-185-183) heading into the race, and the race remains tight. Ford still holds the lead with 220 points, but is now two points ahead of new second-place marque BMW with 218. Porsche dropped to third with 212 points.
- Driving Two Cars: Kris Wilson had a tough day driving two different cars. The Colorado driver ran as high as fifth in the No. 26 C-Max Racing Porsche 997 before the car retired after only 10 laps and finished 21st. He later strapped into the No. 25 Porsche 997, taking the place of co-driver David Riddle, but that car completed only 57 laps and finished 16th.
TOP-THREE POST-RACE DRIVER QUOTES
Marc-Antoine Camirand (No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3): "It's a great event. I have eight wins up here, tying the record for the most wins at Trois-Rivieres. I couldn't have picked a better co-driver, Andy Lally. He's a great driver and everything today worked perfectly. The car was good. We did a great driver change. This was the first win for Kinetic. I have to say thank you to Nic Jonsson and Russell Smith. I'm really happy to win here.
"This one is special. We worked hard to tie the record. I was pretty close to tying it last year. This year the team worked really hard to give a good car to me and Andy. I'm happy to be on the podium and win."
Andy Lally (No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3): "It's special for many reasons. This is my first-ever victory at Trois-Rivieres; many obviously for him. It's a special occasion for him and for Kinetic. This is their first victory in the series. I owe a big congratulations and thanks to everybody at Kinetic and Marc-Antoine (Camirand) for doing such a great job with the car this weekend, earning pole position and pulling away from the guys. He gave me the car in the lead and I didn't have to pass a single person. I just had to maintain but it was tough because our competition here in the Fords were on my tail chasing me. The whole weekend they were very, very strong. Every time I made a mistake they got right to me. Both cars did a really good job. I have to say thank you to our guys who have been hustling on this car and doing a ton of work behind the scenes and this is a big day for Kinetic."
James Gue (No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT): "I'm obviously extremely pleased with the way the weekend went. JBS Motorsports and Bret (Seafuse), they all did an outstanding job. They gave me a great car. We had a great pit strategy. I got in the car and had to, like everybody out there, conserve the brakes and take it easy. It was definitely a handful here racing in the streets. Like Bret said we were looking at the big picture: championship points. First and second - those guys had bad days today, so we made up a lot of points; I couldn't be happier."
Bret Seafuse (No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT): "Our third podium this year. It was a great point race for us. We did very well. We were third. This should move us up to second with a little cushion. That's what we were looking at. We would've certainly loved to win; we already visited second and third on the podium a couple of times. We were looking for the top spot here but the points, this race, was definitely what we were looking at. James (Gue) did a phenomenal job. He had Billy here on his tail the whole time for pretty much his whole stint. I just pretty much tried to bring the car to him in one piece and in good shape and let him go to work.
"That last caution isn't exactly what we wanted. James has built a little bit of a cushion on Billy - a couple of car lengths. But it panned out and we couldn't be happier."
Billy Johnson (No. 52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT): "I just like to thank Ray (Mason). He did an awesome job this weekend. He qualified really well in this blue Ford. We had great pit strategy and great racing. He did a really good job with the pit stop and got us out on the track and gained a few positions. I sat in third place behind James (Gue) for quite some time. I was just pressuring him, trying to make him make a mistake, but he was all over it all race long. I was just trying to hang on to third."
Ray Mason (No. 52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT): "It's a great event to come up here in Trois-Rivieres. We love coming here with the great crowds. To drive around the track afterwards was a heck of a lot of fun. I think I'm obviously the oldest guy on the podium, so it makes me proud just to breath up here with these fellas. I've been up here with Andy (Lally) before. He's an excellent wheel. Driving with Billy Johnson has been great this year. He's a 21-year-old man and he's got a great future ahead of him."