Mississauga – Presented this weekend as part of the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, the third and fourth races of the 2022 Nissan Sentra Cup season were won by Simon Charbonneau, in the rain on Saturday, then by Stefan Rzadzinski Sunday, under the sun.
The popular Canadian motorsport series has also made history at Formula 1 more than once. Valérie Chiasson became the first female driver in the history of the Grand Prix du Canada to stand on the overall podium, during a race Coupe Nissan Micra in 2015. This weekend, Valérie Limoges and Marie-Soleil Labelle both won a Top 3, one in the overall standings and the other in the Micra class, at the end of Saturday's race.
No other motorsport series offers more success to female drivers on the circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal other than the Nissan Sentra Cup, and while Valérie Limoges is familiar with the Top 3 and even victories in the series, this is a very first podium at the GP of Canada for the young (18 years old) Marie-Soleil Labelle, who is a rookie at the event.
Nissan Sentra Cup drivers had the honour of being the first to hit the track at this Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, the country's premier sporting event, back on the calendar for the first time since 2019. On Friday morning, the twenty-eight drivers of the series competed in their free practice session.
Following that, the qualifying session, in front of already full grandstands, saw Justin Arseneau, another young talent of 16, take pole position with his Nissan Sentra from the ICAR Racing Team. Stefan Rzadzinski, Alexandre Fortin, Simon Charbonneau (the winners of the first two races of the season) and defending champion Kevin King completed the top 5.
After the hot sun on Friday, an icy wind greeted fans at the track on Saturday morning. The drivers' task was complicated as the rain made its appearance just before the start of the Nissan Sentra Cup race, forcing the mechanics to do a quick switch from slick to rain tires just before the green flag.
Shortened by weather conditions and a long full-course yellow, this first race saw Charbonneau win with just over a second ahead of Rzadzinski. Valérie Limoges completed the podium, her first on the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit, ahead of Kevin King, Daniel Fortin, Mathieu Miron, Simon Dion-Viens, Alexandre Fortin, Sylvain Ouellet and Éric Chaput.
In the Micra class, Samuel Rowe won his first victory, ahead of François Angers-Routhier, the championship leader, and Marie-Soleil Labelle. She finishes in front of the popular radio host Benoît Gagnon by a few hundredths of a second.
After the rain and cold on Saturday, the sun was back for the second Nissan Sentra Cup race at this 2022 edition of the Grand Prix du Canada on Sunday. With the encouragements of Karine Vanasse, the actress and spokesperson for Nissan in Quebec, and tens of thousands of fans in the grandstands, Stefan Rzadzinski returned to victory, exactly seven years after he triumphed in the Nissan Micra Cup on the same circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
The Western Canadian driver won ahead of Kevin King and Simon Charbonneau after a short and spectacular race, but ended under yellow flag. Valérie Limoges, Éric Chaput, Sylvain Ouellet, Mathieu Miron, André Lapointe, Nicolas Touchette and Frédéric Chaput completed the top 10.
In the Micra class, Samuel Rowe took his second victory of the weekend, ahead of François Angers-Routhier, while Benoît Gagnon climbed on the podium. Marie-Soleil Labelle and Martin Barrette finished fourth and fifth.
The next event will take place in five weeks, at Circuit Mont-Tremblant (July 23-24).
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2022 SCHEDULE - NISSAN SENTRA CUP
May 20-22 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario
June 17-19 Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada, Montréal, Québec
July 22-24 Summer Classic, Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Québec
August 5-7 Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Québec
September 2-4 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario
September 23-25 Fall Classic, Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Québec