July 28, 2008
BRISEBOIS SWEEPS CANADIAN FERRARI CHALLENGE
Professional hockey is extremely popular in Canada; Patrice Brisebois is an extremely popular defenseman, sweeping the ice for the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League. Brisebois proved equally adept at racing, sweeping both races in the Ferrari 430 Challenge event at Mont Tremblant this past weekend.
Brisebois races for the Ferrari of Quebec team, and his car carries the same number 71 as his hockey jersey. He began the weekend by taking pole position in his Ferrari 430 Challenge, a full 8/10 second faster than Scott Tucker, winner of two previous 430 Challenge races at Infineon Raceway in California. Canadians filled the second row of the grid, with Martin Burrowes slightly edging Lawrence Stroll, Brisebois’ Ferrari of Quebec teammate.
Rain had thoroughly dampened the track, and with the threat of further rain the field was required to start on Pirelli rain tires. At the start Tucker passed Brisebois into the first turn, but his lead was brief, as Brisebois repassed on the third lap and immediately pulled out to a substantial lead. Both Burrowes and Stroll were able to get past Tucker, but on the eighth lap the race was halted, to allow the field to pit for dry-weather Pirelli slicks.
The single-file restart meant that Brisebois had Burrowes, Stroll and Tucker on his tail, but the popular hockey star again drew away from the field, taking the win by four seconds. Burrowes was second across the line, but as a guest driver in the series was not eligible for awards or points. Stroll and Tucker joined Brisebois on the podium, with Burrowes receiving a special award for his finish.
A second qualifying session was held to set the grid for Sunday’s race, and this time Scott Tucker put his Boardwalk Ferrari-prepared 430 on pole, 3/10 second faster than Brisebois. Burrowes and Championship points leader Roberto Fata shared the second row; Zak Brown, the Montreal race winner, and Stroll qualified fifth and sixth.
This time Tucker was first into Turn One, and held a solid lead over Brisebois. There was action further back, as Stroll passed Brown, then on lap 3 passed Fata for fourth. Fata had been a double winner at Road Atlanta in April, but was driving a strategic race to preserve his points lead. Stroll’s move forward was made easier when Burrowes pitted on the fourth lap with a flat tire; he retired on the next lap.
Tucker held the lead over Brisebois for 20 laps until he spun while lapping slower cars, and ended up against the barriers. Brisebois avoided the same problems, and took a lead he held to the end, winning by almost 14 seconds over Stroll. Fata held third to the end, and increased his Championship lead. Brown and John Horejsi rounded out the top five, with Horejsi retaining second in the championship.
During podium ceremonies a special "Spirit of the Challenge" award was presented to the Ferrari of Newport Beach crew. One of their drivers had crashed in practice, and the crew worked literally around the clock to have the car back on the grid for Sunday’s race.
The Ferrari Challenge is organized by Ferrari North America, and sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association. Drivers compete in specially built racing versions of the Ferrari F430, with preparation and race support handled by teams formed by authorized Ferrari dealers in North America. Preparation rules are very specific, and the series is intended to emphasize driving skill among lady and gentleman drivers. Sponsorship and support for the series comes from Avantair, Motorola, Pirelli, Sabelt, and Shell.
The Ferrari Challenge next races at the Laguna Seca track in Monterey, California, on August 9-10.