Last season, the Grand-Am Cup division was renamed the KONI Challenge Series after KONI shock absorbers signed a three-year contract to act as the championship’s title sponsor. The agreement between Grand-Am and KONI called for the company to offer the richest purse in the series history - $100,000 per event. The winning Grand Sport team would earn $5,000, but the prize fund doubled to $10,000 if the car was equipped with KONI shock absorbers. Street Tuner competitors were competing for a similar payout - $3,750 to the winner and $7,500 if the vehicle is fitted with KONIs.

Series cars are not that much different than their road-going counterparts. Modifications are mandated mainly for safety – roll cages, window nets, etc. They also use spec DOT-approved tires produced by Hoosier. Based on performance potential, the cars are divided into one of two groups:

  • Grand Sport (GS): The quicker of the two classes - the group features the larger displacement engines as well as smaller four-cylinder motors with forced induction systems. The power-plants produce between 350 and 405-horsepower. Minimum weights range between 2,730 – 3,250-pounds, which is dependent on the motor configuration and displacement. This class includes cars such as the BMW M3, Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang and Porsche 997.
  • Street Tuner (ST): The smaller displacement cars compete in this group in which engines typically produce between 170 and 240-horsepower. Vehicle’s weights vary from 2,200 – 2,925-pounds. The top speed for a car built to the Street Tuner regulations is approximately 135-mph. Popular makes found in this category are the Acura RSX, Acura TSX, Mazda RX-8, Mazda MX-5, Honda Accord, BMW 330i, Subaru Legacy, Chevrolet Cobalt and Mini Cooper S.

The 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge season consisted of eleven race weekends. Except for Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Iowa Speedway and Miller Motorsports Park, all venues would have separate races for the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes. This year’s schedule started in January at Daytona International Speedway. The next event on the calendar wasn’t until April at Virginia International Raceway. A month later, the series visited Lime Rock Park. In June, the teams traveled north of the border to compete at Mosport International Raceway. After Mosport, race weekends took place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Street Tuner only), Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park (Grand Sport only). In early August, the series made a stop at Iowa Speedway. A week later, teams made their second visit to Canada, where the action would take place on the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The penultimate round was held at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park, with the finale being conducted at Virginia International Raceway.

The Trois-Rivieres event was round-seven for the KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport division. Twenty-one teams would compete on the ten-turn 1.521-mile street course for eighty-laps.

Twenty-one Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series competitors receive the green flag for the start of round seven at the Grand Prix du Trois-Rivieres. On the pole is home town favourite, Marc-Antoine Camirand in the No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3. Beside Camirand is the Hyper Sport Ford Mustang driven by Joe Foster. Occupying the second row is the Turner Motorsport BMW of Brian Ortiz and Jack Roush, Jr. in a Mustang.
Andy Lally and Marc-Antoine Camirand dominated round seven at Trois-Rivieres. Camirand was fastest in qualifying, driving the No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3. He also qualified on the Street Tuner pole but didn’t fare as well in the race. The two drivers combined to lead seventy-forty of the eighty-lap contest. This was the team’s first series win and Camirand tied the record for the most victories at this track at eight.
Finishing a close second at the Grand Prix du Trois-Rivieres were James Gue and Bret Seafuse. They shared the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT and started the race in the fifth position. Gue drove the final stint and was catching Andy Lally at the end of the event. At this finish, he was 0.372-seconds behind the winner in the runner-up spot. This was the team’s second podium finish in the last three races.
Driving the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT was Ray Mason and rising star, Billy Johnson. This was the second event of the season that they competed as teammates. Mason qualified the Mustang and was twelfth fastest in the session. After the driver change, Johnson moved through the field and caught the leaders, Andy Lally and James Gue. Despite putting pressure on Gue, he was unable to pass and finished third.
Trois-Rivieres residents and brothers, Jean-Francois and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin, shared the No. 38 BGB Motorsports prepared Porsche 997. Despite their intimate knowledge of the circuit, the brothers were gridded eleventh for the start of the eighty-lap event. Even though there was a small fire under the car during their driver chance, the brothers remained on the lead lap and were in sixth place at the checkered flag.
The KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport podium for round seven at the Grand Prix du Trois-Rivieres. Standing in the center are the winners, Andy Lally and Marc-Antoine Camirand. Standing on the left side of the rostrum are James Gue and Bret Seafuse, who moved within ten-points of the championship leaders, Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton. The final spot on the podium is occupied by Ray Mason and Billy Johnson.

1GSLally / CamirandBMW M3Kinetic Motorsports80
2GSSeafuse / GueFord Mustang GTJBS Motorsports80
3GSMason / JohnsonFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing80
4GSMiller / StantonPorsche 997BGB Motorsports80
5GSRoush / MartinFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing80
6GSDumoulin / DumoulinPorsche 997BGB Motorsports80
7GSAuberlen / AlhadeffBMW M3Turner Motorsport80
8GSEspenlaub / PutmanBMW M3Automatic Racing80
9GSAuriemma / MayesPorsche 997Motorsport Technology Group80
10GSFoster / MaxwellFord Mustang GTHyper Sport80
11GSSalama / OrtizBMW M3Turner Motorsport80
12GSThornton / SegalBMW M3Automatic Racing79
13GSAnis / StrachanNissan 350ZSG Motorsport78
14GSPumpelly / EndePorsche 997The Racer's Group75
15GSConstantine / BorkowskiBMW M3Playboy Racing69
16GSRiddle / WilsonPorsche 997BGB Motorsports57
17GSCanney / PlumbFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing56
18GSCameron / FinlayBMW M3Automatic Racing51
19GSSchroeder / LudwigPorsche 997The Racer's Group45
20GSJenkins / BodenBMW M3Playboy Racing27
21GSRiddle / WilsonPorsche 997BGB Motorsports10

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