In the fourth season of the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship, the old adage of ‘the cream rising to the top’ was clearly evident as two drivers left little doubt as to where the hardware would end up at season’s end.
In the Super Touring class, Nick Wittmer of Montreal (younger brother of factory Dodge driver Kuno in the World Challenge Championships), dominated the field behind the wheel of the no. 1 Lombardi Racing Honda Civic Si, winning eight times (including three feature wins) on the way to capturing his second consecutive class title.
After failing to add to his win totals at Trois-Rivieres and Mosport late in the season, Wittmer entered the season finale at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec with a comfortable, but not insurmountable, 46 point edge over second place Dave Ciekiewicz of Toronto. To secure the title, Wittmer needed to finish in the top five in both races. If this scenario played out, the championship would belong to Wittmer even if Ciekiewicz won both races.
Instead of playing his hand conservatively, Wittmer was aggressive from the word go at Mirabel, as he grabbed the pole position for the first race and led every lap to take the win. Things were much the same on Sunday, as Wittmer took control of the race early, led every lap and won again. In so doing, he doubled his advantage in the final points standings to 111 over second place Ciekiewicz.
In the Touring class, Anthony Rapone had a little more breathing room as the season drew to a close, but still finished on the podium in both races at Mirabel to clinch his first championship with ease – he won the title by a comfortable margin (241) over the Mini Cooper driven by Michel Sallenbach of Roxton Pond, Quebec.
All told, the Markham, Ontario-based driver put the no.72 Durabond/Compass360 Racing Honda Civic on the top step of the podium six times in 2010, including two feature wins.
“The racing was intense all season long and we enjoyed a wide variety of winners including first-timers Michel Sallenbach (#46 Mini), Karl Thomson (#71 Honda), P.J. Groenke (#47 Mini), Tom Kwok (#55 Honda) and David Ciekiewicz (#36 Subaru). At Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres, Marc-Antoine Camirand won Saturday’s race in Super Class and that made him the most winningest driver at the event with nine in total,” series president John Bondar told PRN in an interview.
In addition to exciting battles for class championships, the series continued to do justice to its reputation for big fields and intense competition, as it showcased touring car racing at some of Canada’s biggest road racing events such as the Honda Indy Toronto headlined by the IZOD Indy Car Series and, for the first time, the Grand Prix of Mosport featuring the American Le Mans Series.
While it has taken a few years for the series to reach this level of growth and exposure, Bondar acknowledged the series progress.
“Now that we have successfully completed season four, it’s fair to say that we are on solid ground. We enjoyed healthy fields with an average of 37 cars which were driven by 66 different drivers. The drivers were primarily based in Quebec and Ontario but they came from as far away as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and San Francisco, California too. The mix of tracks and events meant that we were in front of over 350,000 spectators,” he said.
Among the most important initiatives the series undertook this season was to build an enhanced website that features more video content and user interactivity.
“Our Webisodes and Video Race Reports were a huge hit with fans, sponsors and competitors alike. They successfully portrayed the essence of Canadian Touring Car and gave the teams, drivers and sponsors the attention they deserved,” Bondar said.
So what’s new for 2011? Plenty.
At the Canadian Motorsport Expo in late January, Bondar unveiled the Series’ new branding, which includes a completely revamped logo and website.
Along with a fresh new look, the Series revealed its new tire partner.
“We are very excited to welcome Continental Tire as a new partner for the next three years. Continental has developed a race tire based on the same performance principles that go into their ExtremeContact family of products. The ExtremeContact race tire will be the official and exclusive tire of the CTCC,” Bondar said in a statement.
Along with new team and driver combinations, these developments bode well for a Series on the way up.
It all should make for another exciting season, which kicks off at Mosport with doubleheader rounds, May 21-22.