Nathan BlokNathan Blok, the 18-year old 2011 Formula 1600 Champion, raced to victory in both feature 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship races at the Canadian Grand Prix but an infraction under a caution cost him one win.

On Friday, June 9th, Blok looked to have qualified his #1 Aurora Tools / Great Slave Helicopter Van Dieman on the pole position until father and son team Michel and Olivier Bonnet hooked up in a draft to pass for the top 2 positions.

The first F-1600 feature race (Race 3 of 2012) took place under ideal conditions on Saturday morning. Before the starter dropped the green flag after a warm-up lap, pole-sitter Michel Bonnet followed the pace car into pit lane with mechanical problems. After a second warm-up lap the race was begun with Mathew Di Leo grabbing the lead spot while Blok followed and took 2nd position away from the Olivier Bonnet. Di Leo crashed into the wall at Corner 3 and Blok was then in the lead. Blok and Bonnet battled for next 7 laps until the penultimate lap when Blok passed Bonnet for the lead in the hairpin corner, apparently under a yellow caution. The two young racers continued their duel down to the final lap when Blok passed Bonnet for the final time in the chicane before the finish line sparking a drag race to the checkered flag. Blok beat Bonnet by a mere 0.02 seconds but 4 hours after the podium celebrations officials penalized Blok, costing him the win.

“It was very close the whole race, and very intense. There was a few laps at around the half way point where there wasn’t as much action going on, but after I got back in Olivier’s tow, we began going back & forth again. Us racing with each other slowed ourselves down enough to bring a few others to the party at the front. Coming off the final corner, I had no indication to tell me I was really on the final lap, and it came as a real surprise to me when I saw the checkers come out, and I was in a position to take the win!”

On Sunday the grid was determined by the fastest laps times of the previous day’s race placing Blok on the second row in 3rd position once again, this time behind Garret Grist and Olivier Bonnet.

The front three racers maintained their order for nearly one complete lap when Bonnet got past Grist in the hairpin. And so began another epic battle between Blok and Bonnet for the second time before an international audience seated trackside. Blok was soon by Grist for 2nd position and then past Bonnet for the lead. Grist fought back to regain the lead however for the duration of the race the battle for the lead was between Blok and Bonnet. By lap 8, Di Leo had caught up with Grist leaving Blok able to concentrate on defeating Bonnet. Heading for the finish line on the final lap, Bonnet moved to the left-side of the track and Blok charged up on his right but unexpectedly Bonnet moved back to the right-side and squeezed Blok on to the grass allowing Bonnet to cross the line just ahead of Blok. Sunday’s 13 lap race saw 17 passes for the lead of which Blok was involved in 16 of them.

“Again, it was another pulse pounding, no holds barred race, except this time without the half time intermission! the whole race was close, and intense but fair. Coming off the last corner, I went to take the lane on the right which was open, but I didn’t anticipate the door being shut on me. I was still going to go for the win, so the most logical choice for me was to take to the grass, to prevent a crash, and still go for it.”

Prior to the podium the race officials penalized Bonnet for blocking giving the win to Blok and the racer from Pembroke was on the top step of the podium for the second time of weekend.

Race weekend: “All in all, It was a very enjoyable weekend for myself, and the whole team. It had its ups and downs, but that’s racing, and I was glad to come out with an excellent finish at the end of it all. I had a great time putting on a show for the fans, and I would be honored to do it again anytime. I would like to thank Britain West Motorsports for preparing an amazing car all weekend. I would also like to thank all my sponsors, including Aurora Tools, Great Slave Helicopters, Discovery Air, and NAPA Auto Parts. Unfortunately, I do not have the financial capabilities to continue racing in the 2012 season, so hopefully my performance this weekend will have a positive outcome in that regards as well.”

For information and sponsorship info, contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by R. Fortin