Mont-Tremblant, Quebec – 05.24.2015 – The Nissan Micra Cup officially got under way this past weekend with two spectacular races on the Circuit Mont-Tremblant. Both rounds were claimed by the young driver from Thailand, Thanaroj Thanasitnitike, after two fierce battles that brought trackside spectators to their feet.
Qualifying in pole position for Saturday’s race, the young Quebecker Olivier Bédard initially led for the first few turns before getting passed by the two Nissan GT Academy Team drivers. Thanaroj Thanasitnitike, of Thailand, followed by his teammate from India, Abhinay Bikkani, took over the front, later to be joined by Marc-André Bergeron. For Bikkhani and Bergeron, any hope of becoming the very first Nissan Micra Cup winner was dashed mid-way through the race when they both crashed off course. Their Nissan Micras were not damaged and both quickly returned to racing, but by then Thanasitnitike, followed closely by Jean-Michel Isabelle and Friday’s practice session lap record holder Stefan Rzadzinski, became the new drivers battling it out for victory.
By the end of an exciting 30 minutes of racing, during which positions frequently changed, Thanasitnitike won by one second over Isabelle, with Rzadzinski only another three-tenths of a second behind. Olivier Bédard was successful in defending this fourth place spot, ahead of Valérie Chiasson. The Top 10 was rounded out by Abhinay Bikkani, Carl Nadeau, Valérie Limoges, top novice driver Metod Topolnik and Marc-Antoine Demers. All drivers that took to the start crossed the finish line with only a ten-second gap covering the first nine drivers; great signs of an exceptional course on all accounts.
Sunday, Thanasitnitike quickly claimed the lead with Olivier Bédard hot on his tail, both drivers exchanging the top-ranked spot multiple times. With only just enough fuel to finish the race, Bédard had to ease up during the last lap but managed to conserve a second place finish ahead of Albertan Stefan Rzadzinski, who once again completed the podium.
Carl Nadeau and novice Metod Topolnik had an intense battle for fourth place, with only six-tenths of a second separating them as they crossed the finish line. Olivier Pelletier, Gabriel Gélinas, Valérie Chiasson (who executed a spectacular comeback after having to drive onto the grass during the first lap to avoid hitting a spun car), Valérie Limoges and Paul Dargis completed the top 10.
A touching moment of solidarity crowned the inaugural series event. During the second race’s podium, the winner and Nissan GT Academy driver decided to offer his two Nissan Canada cheques of $1,500 worth of parts to new driver Mario Berthiaume, who was unable to start the race after seriously damaging his car in a practice session accident. Series organizer Jacques Deshaies, along with Didier Marsaud of Nissan Canada and Frank Bagouet of Total Canada each presented $1,500, bringing the total to $7,500. This thoughtful gesture exemplifies the spirit of family that is omnipresent in the Nissan Micra Cup, which will hopefully allow Mario Berthiaume to soon rejoin the pack.
Thanasitnitike leads the drivers’ championship with 80 points, ahead of Bédard (68), Rzadzinski (64), Jean-Michel Isabelle, and Pierre Clavet and Carl Nadeau (46). Metod Topolnik leads the novice championship.
This first weekend of the Nissan Micra Cup held up to all of its promises. There was never a lack of action, a good omen for the next outing in two weeks during the Grand Prix du Canada, on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montréal.
2015 Nissan Micra® Cup Schedule
|May 22-24||Classique de printemps, Circuit Mont-Tremblant|
|June 5, 6, 7||Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada|
|July 25-26||Classique d’été, Circuit Mont-Tremblant|
|July 31 – August 2||Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières|
|August 15||Circuit St-Eustache|
|September 25-27||Classique d’automne, Circuit Mont-Tremblant|