Ed. note: Last weekend was an exciting one for up-and-coming junior formula driver and standout karter Zacharie Robichon of Ottawa. The BGR Team Grote driver earned his first career pole position and race win in cars (and then did it again) at Shannonville Motorsports Park. This week we’ve invited him to blog about his experience. Enjoy.
Shannonville DAC trillium trophy races driver diary by Zacharie Robichon
Friday: Friday morning was incredibly cold and rainy. You sometimes wonder why you live in Canada when it is May 24th and it is -1 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Needless to say, we had a little later start to the day than originally planned. Although I had tested at Shannonville during the Spring Fling in April, it was going to be the first time that I was able to race the full track (Spring Fling is run on a shortened version of the track). The setback caused by the weather meant that I was going to be missing some track time, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice!
It was still damp during my first session on track, so I used the laps to learn where certain bumps were. After lunch we finally got to hit the track when it was dry. This really was an opportunity for me to test the grip levels on the track to see how the car would react. It was a good session because I was only about two-tenths off the pole time from last year. Following that session we made little changes to the gear ratios to maximize the Honda everywhere on track and then headed back out for another two sessions. One thing I noticed quickly about the track is no matter what session it was, a distinct characteristic of the track is that fast laps would always be put in at the beginning of a session. I took note of this because it would definitely be important during the qualifying sessions.
Saturday: Saturday morning started with a warm-up. With Friday being such a cold day, there were many new faces on-track in the morning. I attempted to do a qualifying simulation in my first few laps to try and feel how the car would react when it came to qualifying. The car felt quite good, but a few changes would still need to be made to try and go even quicker in the qualifying session. Unfortunately, when it came time for qualifying, our adjustment sent us the wrong way.
For the first time in the weekend it was starting to heat up and the track was changing (It was far from warm, but compared to Friday it was hot!). The car had big oversteer all through the session, and like I had predicted, my fast times were done on my 2nd and 3rd laps. I tried to best my time for another two laps but I was not able to beat my time so I brought it in. Despite the oversteer, I was happy to hear that I had done enough to get my first ever pole in open-wheel racing.
The race ended up being fairly straightforward. At the beginning I found myself looking in my mirrors almost as much as I was looking forward! Because of this I was making minor mistakes, allowing Shane Jantzi to keep the pressure on me for a few laps. I finally got my head into it and was able to pull away and ended with a fairly comfortable gap. All in all it was a great way to get my first car racing win! After the race was over they had organized a great BBQ that allowed all the drivers and workers to have a great meal together! After that it was an early bedtime for me in order to get ready for another great race Sunday.
Sunday: Sunday morning warm up was a very relaxed session for me since I had to bed-in a new set of brake pads. We gambled a little bit with the setup going into qualifying since we were not sure what the track would be like. In qualifying I made a few small mistakes on my first flying lap and I wanted to throw in a second one but my team came on the radio to say that I had pole by nearly a second! So I came in and was going to go back out to do one more lap if the other drivers were to improve, but another driver blew an engine on track making it impossible to improve the times.
The race was much more eventful than the race on Saturday. Shane got a great jump on the start and overtook me into corner one. For the first time of the weekend I was the one playing catch-up. I managed to force him into a mistake early in the race and was able to make a pass to regain the lead. Even if I got by him fairly quickly he pushed me all the way through the race and kept me honest the whole way to the finish. He was always ready to make a move if I made a mistake! It was a great race and made it even more satisfying to take the checkered flag.
Two poles and two wins. I could not have asked for better results than that! My next race weekend will be at Mosport on June 22-23 and I will be looking for another strong finish to stay ahead in the points championship!
I’d like to thank everyone at BGR Team Grote for the great car all weekend, without them none of this would be possible and to my sponsors CEZAC Inc. and P1 Motorsports Fitness.