• Force India

Racing Roundup: New Name for Force India Should Have Canada in it

‘Tag’ wins GP3R; Szoke unbeatable on motorcycles

Norris McDonald By: Norris McDonald August 13, 2018
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The sport of Formula One is on vacation but the business of Formula One never stops and the question this morning is this: what will the new owners of Force India rename the team?

Force India is now owned by Lawrence Stroll of Montreal and six business partners – Canadian businessman Andre Desmerais (Power Corp.), communications investor John McCaw Jr. (who once owned the Pacwest IndyCar team) and three other wealthy individuals. Because it is now out of Bankruptcy Protection (which the Brits call “Administration”), it will finish the season as Force India, with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in the cockpits.

However, it is a lock that Stroll’s son, Lance, will leave Williams at the end of 2018 and join his father’s team. It’s also possible, although highly unlikely, that Nicholas Latifi of Toronto who is now racing in Formula 2, will join Stroll in the second car.

So what to call it? I suggest Team Canada. Or Canada F1. Or something with the name of our country in it.

Remember that this team started life as Jordan. Then Eddie wanted out and Bernie Ecclestone found a buyer in Alex Schnaider, a Toronto land developer. F1 sucks money and Schnaider lasted 18 months before crying uncle. Bernie then talked Spyker cars into buying the team. The shareholders of that company wondered what in the world they were doing in F1, so Bernie had to find another buyer and that’s how Vijay Mallya became involved and that’s how the team became Force India.

With due respect, it was not long after Mallya took over that the rumours started about Force India being behind in its bills and things like the owner’s airline needing bankruptcy protection. You heard that and you went, “Uh-oh.”

It is not surprising that Bernie Eccleston has been involved in all sales of this company, including this one. I would suggest he holds the mortgage. I also suggest that he has his finger in the pie of several other F1 teams, including one of the storied marques.

When Chase Carey and friends purchased F1, I wrote a column in which I said I hoped they had done their due diligence. They might call him Chairman Emeritus and think that they kicked him upstairs but Bernie Ecclestone is Formula One and I think he still has way more influence than any of them want to admit.

It was Bernie who brought in the Stroll group. I think they will be able – unlike all the others – to make a go of it. Why? They know money and how to get it and handle it and to make it work in their favour. There will be no tag days for any of those guys.

They also know that Formula One is no walk in the park. Far too many people got involved in F1 because they thought it was easy.  They might have been brilliant in their own businesses or professions but F1 is a different kettle of fish, as all of them found out.

Stroll and Demerais got rich in Canada. Having Canada in the name of that F1 team would acknowledge and celebrate their success.

WEEKEND RACING

Force India

Alex Tagliani celebrates his second consecutive Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. CREDIT: Matthew Manor/NASCAR

In what was one of the most intense and ferocious NASCAR Pinty’s Series races on record, Alex Tagliani won Sunday’s 49th Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières – his second GP3R victory in a row.

It was Tagliani’s fourth consecutive podium appearance at the legendary 1.530-mile street course near the waterfront of this historic community on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 120 kilometres west of Quebec City.

Hometown driver L.P Dumoulin muscled his way through to finish second while Alex Labbe, who finished ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Columbus on Saturday, was third after having to start last in the 22-car field.

Fellow Trois-Rivières native (and L.P.’s brother) J.F. Dumoulin came home fourth. Pole sitter Camirand, who led the first 37 laps, was fifth. D.J. Kennington and Donald Theetge finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

French driver Frederic Gabillon – participating in an exchange program that will see J.F. Dumoulin race in Europe – recovered after a mid-race spin to finish eighth. Luc Lesage and Mark Dilley completed the top 10.

It was a rough race from the start, with plenty of spins and near-misses. Emotions ran high and, at one point, NASCAR Canada officials had to break up a confrontation between rival pit crews. There were a record eight caution flags for 20 of the 50 laps but there could have been plenty more.

Twenty-Two drivers started the race with 17 crossing the finish line. Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap.

“In the first moments of the race, it was an all-out war on the track and there were a lot of contacts,” winner Tagliani, who started fourth, said later. “Then, I had an opportunity to move into second place behind my teammate, Marc-Antoine Camirand, who’d won the pole.

“I finally had the chance to take over the race lead and nobody was going to take that away from me. This was not an easy race to win because it was very competitive. I am very proud of the hard work put out by (Scott Steckly’s) Team 22 Racing.

“We are a dominating force at this time with a fourth podium finish in our last six races and we are grinding away on the points leader. This win comes at an opportune moment of the season. With five races to go, we are going all out to win this title.”

Tagliani is now third in the championship with 317 points, 11 points behind championship leader L.P. Dumoulin and one behind second place Camirand.

The Pinty’s Series drivers now move on to the Maritimes for next Saturday evening’s Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S. The green flag for the Aug. 18 event will be waved at 7 p.m. EDT.

In two weeks, the Pinty’s Series will be back at Canadian Tire Motorsport  Park in support of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race

Kevin Harvick won his seventh Monster Energy Cup race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Brad Keselowski was second and Kyle Bush was third. For details of the Monster Energy race, please click here.

The Detroit Grand Prix IndyCar race will return to Belle Isle State Park for the next three years, it was announced Friday. But they’d better start looking around for another place to hold that race. The cyclists and tree-huggers were out in force this time and you can bet they will use the next three years to mount enough of a protest against the race continuing there that they will probably win.

In motorcycle racing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Jordan Szoke made history Sunday by  winning his record 13th, and fourth straight, national Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship.

Force India

Jordan Szoke of Lynden, Ont., captured his record 13th national superbike championship Sunday at CTMP.

Szoke secured the title with a fourth-place finish. Tomas Casas, of Peterborough  won for the second straight day in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike class.

Szoke, of Lynden, Ont., riding the No. 1 BMW S1000RR, started second behind pole sitter Kenny Riedmann, of Belfountain, Ont., on the No. 42 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.

At the drop of the green, Szoke, Riedmann and Saturday’s race winner, Ben Young of Clazkrsburg, Ont., on the No. 86 BMW S1000RR all jockeyed, for position with Young eventually leading Riedmann and Szoke. That order held pat until Lap 7 when Riedmann passed Young for the lead.

Lap 13 saw Young retake the lead only to relinquish it again to Riedmann by Lap 17. Meanwhile, Samuel Trepanier, of St. Isidore, Que., on the No. 14 BMW S1000RR, had worked his way up from his ninth starting position to join the lead pack passing Szoke for third on the penultimate lap.

Trepanier then passed Riedmann for second on the white flag lap only to give the position back running wide through Moss Corner. At the checkers, it was Riedmann, Young and Trepanier across the line. For Riedmann, it was his first career Mopar Canadian Superbike win.

For Saturday Racing Results, Please Click Here

In support races at Trois-Rivieres at the weekend, Zach Robichon of Ottawa took up where he left off Saturday and won the second of two Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada races Sunday. Robichon can’t lose these days, it seems. It was the fourth time this Canadian season that he’s won both races. And last weekend, he swept both races at a Porsche GT3 double-header weekend in the U.S. Wow.  Roman De Angelis of Windsor was second Sunday (as he was Saturday) and Etienne Borgeat of Montreal finished third (ditto) . . . . . .

In Nissan Micra Cup action, Olivier Bedard of Montreal won his second race of the weekend Sunday, with Jake Exton of Guildford, Great Britain, second and Valerie Limoges of Longueuil, Que., third. In the first race on Saturday, Bedard won, with Kevin King second and Exton third.. . . .

The Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) kicked things off Friday with a night race that is always among the most popular of the annual meeting. Etienne Borgeat was the overall winner and first in the GT Cup class, driving a Porche GT3 Cup car. Except for fellow GT Cup racer Mario Guerin, in a Ferrari 458, everybody else was at least a lap behind Borgeat. Malcolm Strong was first in the GT Sport class driving an Audi R8 GT4 LMS, Marc Raymond in a Porsche Cayman GT finished the race in front in Super Touring and Michel Sallenbach won the Touring class race wheeling a MINI Coup JCW. The Touring Cars raced again Saturday afternoon and the results were the same. Nearly 30 Touring Cars raced at Trois-Rivieres and many of the other runners finished in different positions but the four first-place drivers were the same. . . . . .

Bertrand Godin, who finished fourth in the Formula Tour 1600 race Saturday morning, roared back to finish first in the afternoon race.

Bertrand Godin? You remember “Bert,” don’t you? He was one of the Player’s scholarship drivers who were left high and dry when the federal government forced the tobacco companies to stop advertising and Imperial Tobacco had to start a gradual withdrawal from the sport.

(Remember when that all happened? How apologists for the feds said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, there are other sponsors just waiting to step in and help all these talented young Canadian racing drivers.’ Well, there weren’t any and people like David Empringham and Godin and a whole bunch of others were left by the wayside.

(The result, of course, was that if you didn’t come from a family with money, or have a direct access to money, you were beaten before you started. Talented racing drivers like Godin, who – to this day – won’t pay for rides, partially on principle but more-so because they don’t have any money, were left high and dry.)

In a conversation after his victory Saturday, Godin said that after Player’s was forced out, “it was the end of the world.”

The Canadian won two Formula Atlantic races in 1997, in Montreal and Cleveland, beating drivers like Alex Tagliani and Memo Gidley. But since then, he’s been doing a lot of things other than racing. He’s been an automotive journalist, represented auto manufacturers at car shows, been an analyst on racing programs carried by RDS, the French-language Quebec sports network, and so-forth. He even did a couple of races now and again, like one-offs in Canadian championships like the Nissan Micra Cup. But nothing steady.

“I dream of driving all the time,” he said, after he was peppered with questions by a gaggle of French-language reporters. “I have a simulator in my house – virtual reality – and I do two or three full-length races every week. I do it for fun and to stay in shape.”

He thanked Brantford’s Britain West Motorsports for giving him an opportunity to race  “in this tight, compact, really difficult, hard-to-pass place.”

And, like me and others, he can’t understand the ridiculous situation in Formula 1600 in this country that seems to go back to the beginning of time. With a few exceptions, like Britain West, most of the 19-car Formula Tour field Saturday was made up of Quebec cars. There are at least that many in Ontario but the owners and drivers refuse to race in Quebec and vice-versa.

From my perspective, I cannot understand how race drivers who either own cars or have access to cars aren’t racing when there’s a race scheduled. I’m not talking about the Formula One race in Montreal, which costs a fortune to run, but what about this one in Trois-Rivieres? It makes no sense.

Nor does it to Bertrand Godin.

“When I am behind the wheel, I don’t have a language,” he said. “And this Grand Prix of Three Rivers owes a lot to drivers like David Empringham and Ron Fellows. The Ontario guys should be here. It’s a shame they are not.”

Guillaume Archembault was second in that second race Saturday while the morning race winner, Didier Schraenen, finished third.

nmcdonald@thestar.ca

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