After a twelve-year absence, it was announced at the Montreal Auto Show that the Honda Michelin Challenge Series would return
in 2004 with a ten-race schedule featuring the Honda Civic DX Coupe.
The original series was the ‘brainchild’ of Gilles Bourcier and debuted in 1976. After getting its start in Quebec, the championship included Ontario tracks and racers. By 1987 there was enough demand to have East and West divisions. From its inception until 1992, the series attracted approximately 400-drivers, including some of the great names in Canadian motor racing – Richard Spenard and the Villeneuve brothers, Gilles and Jacques.
The inaugural event of the 2004 season will be held on the Victoria Day weekend at Mosport International Raceway. Next on the calendar is the series most prestigious event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as a support event for the Canadian Grand Prix. Then teams will return to Mosport for the second of four visits to this track. The championship’s only doubleheader takes place at Shannonville Motorsport Park on the Canada Day weekend. Shannonvile is followed by another high profile event, which takes place at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Round seven is held during the American Le Mans Series weekend at Mosport. Teams return to Quebec for the next two races – Autodrome St-Eustache and the penultimate round at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. The finale is held where the season started, Mosport.
The cars competing in the series are 2004 Honda DX Coupes. The Honda DX is powered by a 1.7-liter 16-valve SOHC engine, which produces 115-horsepower at 6,100-rpm. The DX is also equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission. An independent suspension design is used on the front and rear of the vehicles. All cars are required to race on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires. Modifications to the Hondas such as a roll-cage and window net are mandated for safety.
The final round of the 2004 Honda Michelin Challenge Series was held at Mosport International Raceway on October 3rd. Four drivers were in contention for the title and separated by just nine-points; they were Steven Laporte, Didier Schraenen, Nick Wittmer and Normand Boyer.
|Eighteen drivers were entered for the finale of the 2004 Honda Michelin Challenge Series at Mosport International Raceway. Leading the field into Moss corner on the pace lap is the pole-sitter, Kuno Wittmer, in the No. 82 Honda de Sigi Honda Civic DX Coupe. Sharing the front row with Wittmer is championship hopeful Didier Schraenen driving the No. 94 Radio Energie sponsored Honda Civic.|
|Lombardi Honda’s Steven Laporte led the championship by three-points over his closest rival, Didier Schraenen. Laporte put the No. 22 Honda Civic DX Coupe third on the starting grid. He moved into the lead on lap-4 but lost the position to Schraenen. Late in the contest, Schraenen was involved in an incident with Normand Boyer. Laporte grabbed first place and from there, it was ‘clear sailing’ to the win and title.|
|Championship contender Nick Wittmer was fourth fastest in the qualifying session, driving the No. 83 Honda Civic. Early in the sixteen lap contest, Wittmer followed the leaders, Didier Schraenen, Normand Boyer and Steven Laporte. When there was contact between Schraenen and Boyer, he moved into second place. On the last lap, Wittmer won a drag race with Robert Boyer to finish in the runner-up spot by 0.065-seconds.|
|Earning his second podium finish of the season at the finale was Robert Boyer piloting the No. 33 Honda Civic. During the qualifying session, Boyer recorded the fifth-fastest time. He drove aggressively in the race and benefitted from the incident between Didier Schraenen and Normand Boyer. At that point, he moved into third-place and almost passed the runner-up, Nick Wittmer, at the finish line.|
|Kuno Wittmer captured his second pole position of the year in the finale at Mosport International Raceway. Wittmer, driving the No. 82 Honda de Sigi Honda Civic DX Coupe, led for the first three laps before being passed by Steve Laporte. He was running in the sixth position when contact between Didier Schraenen and Normand Boyer allowed him to move up the race order. Wittmer finished in fourth-place.|
|Didier Schraenen saw his title aspirations end late in the contest when there was contact between him and championship contender Normand Boyer. Schraenen started the race on the outside of the front row. He moved the No. 94 Radio Energie Honda Civic DX Coupe into the lead on the lap-12. Unfortunately, the incident sent him back to sixth-place. Schraenen would be unable to recover from this setback.|
|FINISH||START||DRIVER||CAR / ENTRANT||LAPS||RETIREMENTS|
|1||3||Steven Laporte||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||16||-|
|2||4||Nick Wittmer||Honda Civic DX / Honda Ste-Rose||16||-|
|3||5||Robert Boyer||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||16||-|
|4||1||Kuno Wittmer||Honda Civic DX / Honda de Sigi||16||-|
|5||6||Alex Penfold||Honda Civic DX / Lakeshore Honda||16||-|
|6||2||Didier Schraenen||Honda Civic DX / Radio Energie||16||-|
|7||12||Ryan Kelly||Honda Civic DX / London Honda||16||-|
|8||8||Sylvain Ouelet||Honda Civic DX / Auto Frank & Michel||16||-|
|9||14||Denis Baillargeon||Honda Civic DX / Hamel Honda||16||-|
|10||9||Jeff Pabst||Honda Civic DX / Pfaff Leasing||16||-|
|11||13||Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||16||-|
|12||7||Normand Boyer||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||16||-|
|13||18||Travis Walker||Honda Civic DX / Oakville Honda||16||-|
|14||11||Kris Rams||Honda Civic DX / Ready Honda||16||-|
|15||15||Daniel Courtney||Honda Civic DX / Whitby/Oshawa Honda||16||-|
|16||17||Kelly Williams||Honda Civic DX / Honda Canada||16||-|
|17||16||Nick Woodhouse||Honda Civic DX / Woodhouse Racing||16||-|
|18||10||Kurt Kossmann||Honda Civic DX / Honda De Sigi||16||-|
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