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.
Round six of the 2004 Honda Michelin Challenge Series was held at the thirty-fifth running of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Drivers would compete on the eleven-turn 1.53-mile temporary street circuit for eighteen-laps.
|The start of round six for the 2004 Honda Michelin Challenge Series at Trois-Rivieres. Leading the seventeen entrants through corner one is the pole-sitter, Nick Wittmer, in the No. 83 Honda Ste-Rose Honda Civic DX Coupe. Behind Wittmer is the third-fastest qualifier, Steven Laporte, in the No. 22 Lombardi Honda. On the outside of Laporte is the other front-row starter, Alex Penfold, driving the No. 8 Honda.|
|The first qualifying session was conducted in the rain and provided the drivers with little more than an opportunity to understand where to turn left and right. The fast times were set in the afternoon and it was Nick Wittmer who claimed his second pole position of the season. In the race, he avoided the drama behind him and led flag-to-flag for his first victory of the year. His father, Patrick, won the event in 1978.|
|Chasing the winner, Nick Wittmer, during round six was the second-fastest qualifier, Alex Penfold. Penfold lost second place to Steven Laporte on the lap-2. However, Laporte was black-flagged for jumping the start and Penfold regained his position. From that point, it was ‘clear sailing’ for the driver of the No. 8 Pfaff Leasing Honda Civic DX Coupe. Penfold was 1.708-seconds behind Wittmer at the finish.|
|Sports car racing veteran Normand Boyer had two victories, both of which were at Mosport International Raceway. He may have been leading the championship if not for being excluded in round two at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Boyer was seventh fastest in the qualifying session at Trois-Rivieres. By lap-4 of the contest, he was in third-place. Boyer protected the position and secured the final spot on the podium.|
|Robert Boyer, piloting the No. 33 Lombardi Honda sponsored Honda Civic DX Coupe, is sporting the classic ‘Trois-Rivieres blue stripe.’ Boyer was gridded in the fourteenth position for the eighteen lap event. He made a tremendous start and was in eighth-place by the end of lap-1. Boyer’s progress continued and at the checkered flag, he was in the sixth spot.|
|The championship leader, Didier Schraenen, left round six still on top of the standings, but his rivals were now within striking distance. Schraenen was fifth-fastest in the qualifying session, piloting the No. 94 Honda Civic DX Coupe. However, he lost positions in the race and finished in the eighth-place. His lead was reduced to five-points over Steven Laporte and Frederick Lelievre, who were tied for second.|
|FINISH||START||DRIVER||CAR / ENTRANT||LAPS||RETIREMENTS|
|1||1||Nick Wittmer||Honda Civic DX / Honda Ste-Rose||18||-|
|2||2||Alex Penfold||Honda Civic DX / Lakeshore Honda||18||-|
|3||7||Normand Boyer||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||18||-|
|4||4||Frederick Lelievre||Honda Civic DX / Lamontagne Auto||18||-|
|5||3||Steven Laporte||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||18||-|
|6||14||Robert Boyer||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||18||-|
|7||6||Denis Baillargeon||Honda Civic DX / Hamel Honda||18||-|
|8||5||Didier Schraenen||Honda Civic DX / Radio Energie||18||-|
|9||10||Ryan Kelly||Honda Civic DX / London Honda||18||-|
|10||15||Jamie Holtom||Honda Civic DX / SCADAPack||18||-|
|11||9||Sylvain Ouelet||Honda Civic DX / Auto Frank & Michel||18||-|
|12||13||Kyle Brack||Honda Civic DX / Formula Honda||18||-|
|13||16||Gabriel Gelinas||Honda Civic DX / Honda Canada||18||-|
|14||12||Travis Walker||Honda Civic DX / Oakville Honda||17||-|
|15||17||Daniel Courtney||Honda Civic DX / Whitby/Oshawa Honda||18||-|
|16||11||Emmanuel Boivin-Moreau||Honda Civic DX / Lombardi Honda||16||-|
|17||8||Kuno Wittmer||Honda Civic DX / Honda de Sigi||12||Did Not Finish|
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