BOWMANVILLE, ON, (Sept. 16, 2018) – The BEMC Indian Summer Trophy Races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park played host to the final 3 races in the 2018 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship season.
Perfect weather greeted the competitors as they rolled out for a full day of testing on the Friday. 3 cars were entered for young guns Zachary Vanier, Matt Gidman, and making his car racing debut Sam Baker.
All 3 drivers were showing great pace as we moved through practice and into the early morning qualifying on Saturday for the prestigious Al Craighead Cup, run later the same day. Vanier would barely be pipped for the pole, posting the 2nd fastest lap of the session and starting on the front row. Gidman would nab the 7th fastest lap, one of his best starting positions on the year and Sam Baker had a very impressive debut with a lap good enough for 9th on the grid.
The action in race 1, the Al Craighead Cup, was intense right from the drop of the green flag. Vanier would grab the lead early in the first lap and looked like he was ready to grab his first win. He maintained control of the race for most of the laps but the pack behind was just as hungry for the win. The last lap set up a 3 wide drag race down the final part of the back straightaway and into the 2nd last corner of the race. Vanier dove deep down the outside and into the lead, but made slight contact with another competitor, suffering a quick spin, collecting the car and recovering quickly for a 4th place finish.
Gidman has taken his driving to another level and was on the tail end of the lead pack for the entire event. He would miss the spinning cars in the final couple of corners and bring his car across the line in 7th and sending notice he was going to be a new force to be reckoned with for the rest of the weekend.
Baker was a little anxious about his first start in real competition but proved to himself and everyone else on the grid he is a quick study. He dropped a couple of spots with a cautious but smart start, then proceeded to work his way back through the grid and crossing the line 7th.
Sunday morning was hot and sunny for the final 2 races. Vanier started on the 3rd row but was anxious to get going. He has grown accustom to running at the front and really wanted to close out his rookie season with a win. He worked his way to 4th and was making a move for 3rd but was crowded on the inside and forced to climb the curb. Contact couldn’t be avoided and he ended up climbing over the other car and ripping the left rear suspension from the car. He would not finish.
Gidman had another solid run with the lead pack and continues to impress. He battled hard for the last 2 laps and picked up enough spots to bring his car across the line in 6th.
Baker’s confidence helped him finish yet another race in the top 10 with a 9th place run to the flag. Unfortunately, duty called and he had to head to the airport to fly back to the east coast for classes Monday morning so was unable to stick around for race 3.
Vanier’s car suffered a tremendous amount of damage from the race 2 incident and with not enough time to fix it the team decided to put him in the car Baker had run earlier.
He would start at the back of the field but wasted no time making ground. He had passed almost 10 cars when the safety car flags were thrown on lap 1, allowing the field to be bunched back up and setting the stage for some great action.
When the race resumed Vanier deftly made his was back into the top 5 and fighting with the lead group. He didn’t have quite enough at the end and would finish 5th, grabbing the hard charger award and setting the fastest lap of the race along the way ending a great season for the 15 year old.
Gidman had his own fair share of drama in the final event. His car had a small problem on the grid and when the crew attended to it the field had rolled so he was forced to start from the end of pit road. The safety car period worked in his favour as well allowing him to get caught back up. He would end up with a great result, racing his way back into 9th at the drop of the checkered flag.
The team has headed back to the shop to repair the cars with a quick turnaround as they are headed for the final F1600 Canada event at the Fall Classic at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant this weekend.
The trailer will have 4 cars in it for Zachary Vanier, Matt Gidman, Gord Ross and Jason Sharpe.