Nathan Blok, the 19-year old, two-time Formula Tour Series Champion switched gears to compete in the Canadian Touring Car Championship. The two races were in support of the Canadian Grand Prix on the weekend of June 7 – 9, 2013 on the tough Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Blok has plenty of experience on this racetrack but in the much lighter Formula 1600 open-wheel cars. This was to be his first time driving a BMW 330i sedan from 8legs Racing of Ottawa ON after a single day of practice.
The first two days of the Grand Prix weekend saw plenty of rain with few breaks. In the Friday morning practice session, the throttle stuck on the first lap – Blok was able to patch the throttle problem and got back on track 1/2 way through the session. Then 2nd gear failed with a few laps left to go in the session allowing Blok a total of only 4-laps.
Qualifying took place in the afternoon on Friday, still in rain and misty conditions. The throttle was repaired but there was not enough time to change the transmission, so Blok qualified without 2nd gear, a tough drive on a track with long straights and tight corners like Montreal. Despite the mechanical issues, Blok qualified qualified 5th out of 28 drivers (14 in his Super Touring class).
Saturday’s CTCC feature race saw the rain return at the drop of the green flag. Blok fell back one position in the first turn but retook the spot in the tight hairpin at the opposite end of the course.
At the mid-point of the race, Blok had contact with two competitors and spun off the track and the BMW stalled. Blok managed to get re-started and re-joined the race in 13th place. Charging hard, Blok gained two positions in the remaining laps to finish 11th overall and 8th in his class.
“When I saw the rain come down I knew my rear wheel drive Aurora Tools BMW was at a serious disadvantage to the front wheel and 4 wheel drive cars. I would have to be defensive to have any chance of a decent finish. But all things considered I felt I did respectable since I was the highest placing rear wheel drive car in the field.”
The second CTCC race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning under clearing skies and on a drying track. Qualifying was based on the best race times from Saturday placing Blok 7th on the grid.
The green flag was waved and Blok immediately gained three positions during the first lap. The race was spent battling for position with gains and losses with two competitors dropping out and Blok crossed the finish line in 2nd place, nearly 11 seconds ahead of his closest competition and earned his first podium in the CTCC series.
“I was so happy to see the sun come out for the first time this weekend. I had an excellent start, and by the end of the first lap I had moved up 3 positions. A number of DNF’s worked in my favour and I was able to get a podium finish on my debut to the series. I am working towards
finding funding to race at the Trois-Rivières Grand Prix in August and looking forward to improve on my 2nd place finish.”
“I would like to thank all my sponsors and partners, for without them this race weekend would not have been a success.”
For information on Nathan Bok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867
Photo by S Blok.