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Category: Formula Tour F1600

Nathan Blok and Marcel LafontaineNathan Blok, back to back Champion of the Formula Tour 1600 Series, Canada’s premiere open wheel series accepted his award at the recent awards banquet. Presenting him his trophy was series organizer Marcel Lafontaine. Nathan’s speech included recognition of all 22 sponsors and his team Britain West Motorsports who were all instrumental in the success of his season.

Photo by Flagworld.com.

Nathan BlokNathan Blok, the 18-year old 2011 Formula 1600 Champion, claimed his second consecutive Formula Tour 1600 Championship despite formidable odds against him. Motorsports can easily consume the largest budgets and Team Blok runs solely on sponsorships and economic conditions make season-long deals hard to come by. Nonetheless the young racer was determined to try and repeat his 2011 championship title even though he would have only one practice day to prepare himself for the new season.

Blok raced his #1 Van Dieman F-1600 in the Formula Tour 1600 Series class as part of the Spring Classic at Circuit Mont-Tremblant track north of Montréal. For Race #1 on Saturday, Blok qualified his car 3rd in a field of 20 competitors, a mere 0.3 seconds off the pole. From the drop of the green flag, Blok had a battle on his hands with Xavier Coupal, a talented driver from Quebec. Coupal went off the course on the 6th lap and Blok would lead the field until Lap 13 when he too left the pavement. Quickly re-joining the race in 7th place, Blok began his charge back up through the field, crossing the line in 6th place behind veteran racer Didier Scharenen

On Sunday, Blok qualified his car in the coveted pole position for Race #2. On the start, Blok maintained his starting position with Coupal hot on his tail. The two young racers diced each other for the lead through the opening laps. On the final lap, Blok threaded the needle between two back-markers in Corner 8 in a breath-taking move. Coupal would challenge Blok one final time in Namarow but Blok successfully defended his line and took the checkers at the finish line.

The next race weekend took place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the Canadian Grand Prix. Blok started Race #3 from the third spot on the grid behind the father and son team of Michel & Olivier Bonnet. Blok and the Olivier Bonnet battled for the last 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.

On Sunday the grid for Race #4 was determined by the fastest lap time of the previous day’s race placing Blok on the second row in 3rd position once again. Another epic battle took place between Blok and Bonnet for the second time before an international audience. 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. Prior to the podium the race officials penalized Bonnet for blocking (this decision was later protested) giving the win to Blok and the racer from Pembroke was on the top step of the podium for the second time of weekend.

The racers returned to Mont Tremblant for Race #5 and despite driving with a sprained wrist, it quickly became a 3-way duel between Blok, Matthew Di Leo and Michael Adams. On the final lap, Di Leo was in the lead when Adams attempted to pass Blok but was not able to complete the move. Blok and Adams exited side-by-side and remained that way all the way to Turn 7 when Blok came out ahead. Blok defended another passing attempt by Adams in the next corner and would take the checkered flag in 2nd place.

Sunday’s qualifying session for Race #6 of 2012 saw Blok a mere 0.02 seconds behind 2nd place Adams while Di Leo repeated his pole-position. Blok stuck with the leaders from the start and began pressuring Adams who put two tires off the road during Lap 3 and Blok capitalized on his mistake taking the lead.

On the 15th and final lap, Adams got by Blok in Turn 10 for the lead. Blok made two attempts to pass, under the bridge and again in the infamous Namerow Corner but was unable to make the move stick, settling for his second 2nd place finish of the weekend. Blok now led the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship by 39 points.

Race #7 took place in Trois-Rivières during a heat wave but Blok had a good start maintaining his 3rd place position. Series newcomer, Brandon Newey of the United States, made his presence known by passing both Blok and Michel Bonnet in the hairpin. Blok took advantage of the unsettled Bonnet diving past and securing 2nd place. After gently brushing the wall coming out of corner 2, Blok began to pull away from Newey and began to gain on the leaders. The race ended with Blok in 3rd place.

Sunday’s Race #8 saw temperatures even higher along with increased humidity. Starting positions were based on the fastest lap times from Saturday’s race, placing Blok 3rd on the grid. The starter gave the green light but Blok did not get the best start, dropping him to 6th position. Blok steadily regained positions until Coupal aggressively crowded Blok off his racing line on the 13th lap yet Blok retook the position one lap later. Coupal locked up his brakes under the Arch, driving into the run-off area and Blok moved up into 3rd place. A full-course caution was declared shortly after that and the race ended under yellow with Blok once again in 3rd place.

Race #9 of the season took place at Calabogie, west of Ottawa, the scene of several of Blok’s accomplishments; his first race in a car (2009) which ended with his first podium finish, his first race victory in a car (2010) and his first clean sweep weekend – both poles, both wins, which sealed his 2012 championship. Blok is now the youngest champion and back-to-back winner.

The first F-1600 feature race of the weekend began well with Blok retaining his lead but Jesse Lazare (OFFC) quickly passed Leclerc in the first corner. By Corner 8 he had gotten by Blok for the lead. The two former kart racers battled for the next several laps, often side-by-side, with Lazare nipping Blok for the front position.

Blok and Lazare came up onto lapped traffic with Lazare diving to the right and Blok staying on the left, risking driving through an oil spill on the track. Blok regained the lead and maintained it until the checkered flag was thrown.

Sunday was Race #10 and Blok qualified on the pole again, 0.123 seconds ahead of Jesse Lazare. For the first three of 10 laps, Blok maintained his lead position but Lazare remained fast and competitive. Going into Corner 5 on the fourth lap, Lazare got past Blok but they remained side-by-side again for several following corners. The two young racers traded the lead on lap 5 and 6 when they once again caught up with slower traffic. Blok managed the slower cars to his advantage, maintaining his lead position until the checkered flag, 0.56 seconds ahead of Lazare.

This victory secured Blok’s second Formula Tour 1600 Championship after just five of six race weekends.

“At the start of the season, I would have never thought I would win the title again, let alone with such an excellent string of success,” said Blok. “Due to the economic times it was difficult to raise funding for a full season. At the beginning it was looking like I would only have 2 race weekends. But as the season progressed so did the sponsorship, giving me enough to cover 5 out of the 6 weekends. It was comforting knowing I would be able to race, but I was concerned one mistake would cost me the title. Fortunately, I had some good luck, and just enough points to take the championship at the end of the 5th weekend!”

“It was extra special for me to win and capture the championship title in front of my home crowd at Calabogie. Its quite funny since its the same place I took my first lap in a race car, entered my first race, got my first podium, first win, and now my second title, back to back.”

“As far as my driving is concerned, I think I’ve done the best I could have possibly done. I didn’t have any damage to my car all season. I was constantly a contender for the win in every race, and I finished 80% of the races I entered on the podium. This excellent season wouldn’t have happened without the help of my many sponsors and supporters who stuck with me and believed in me when the times were tough, this also includes my numerous new sponsors who came on board as the season progressed. I also must praise the incredible job that the Britain West Motorsport team did at the track and back at the shop by providing me with a flawless car every race weekend. They truly made my job look easy.”

For information on Nathan Bok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by S Blok.

Nathan BlokNathan Blok had a racer’s perfect weekend at his home track of Calabogie, capturing the Formula Tour F1600 Series’ first-ever back-to-back titles. The 18-year old from nearby Beachburg ON placed first in practice, took the pole position for both races and won both races against drivers in two F1600 series competing on the annual Ted Powell Memorial Weekend. The Ontario Formula Ford Championship (OFFC) drivers had the advantages of 15 lbs less racing weight, race fuel instead of pump gas and an aerodynamic rear diffuser.

The track at Calabogie has been the scene of several of Blok’s accomplishments; his first race in a car (2009) which ended with his first podium finish, his first race victory in a car (2010) and his first clean sweep weekend – both poles, both wins, which sealed his 2012 championship. Blok is now the youngest champion and back-to-back winner.

On Saturday Blok qualified on the pole out of 29 drivers, 0.19 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc from the Formula Tour 1600 Series.

The first F-1600 feature race of the weekend (Race 9 of 12) began well with Blok retaining his lead but Jesse Lazare (OFFC) quickly passed Leclerc in the first corner. By Corner 8 he had gotten by Blok for the lead. The two former kart racers battled for the next several laps, often side-by-side, with Lazare nipping Blok for the front position.

On lap 8 with two to go, Blok and Lazare came up onto lap traffic with Lazare diving to the right and Blok staying on the left, risking driving through an oil spill on the track. Blok regained the lead and maintained it until the checkered flag was thrown, a 2.324 second gap over Lazare in 2nd place. Lazare received a three-position penalty post-race for blocking Blok three times during the heat, which only affected the OFFC positions. The Formula Tour 1600 podium winners were Blok (1st), Charles Leclerc (2nd) and JP Jodoin (3rd).

“Jesse (Lazare) put up a good fight for the first half of the race. With only a few laps to go, I knew I needed to make my move soon,” recalled Blok. “I seized the opportunity in corner 14 taking a bit of a risk by going through oil left on the track by another driver and using the lap car to my advantage to take the lead and bring home the checkered flag in front of the home crowd. I was proud to put on a show for my family, friends and sponsors.”

Sunday brought another chance for the 26 racers and Blok qualified on the pole again, 0.123 seconds ahead of Jesse Lazare.

For the first three of 10 laps, Blok maintained his lead position but Lazare remained fast and competitive. Going into Corner 5 on the fourth lap, Lazare got past Blok but the remained side-by-side again for several following corners. Blok was unable to complete his overtaking move but he remained on the leader’s tailpipe.

The two young racers traded the lead on lap 5 and 6 when they once again caught up with slower traffic. Blok managed the slower cars to his advantage, maintaining his lead position until the
checkered flag, 0.56 seconds ahead of Lazare.

The Formula Tour 1600 podium was Blok (1st), Sergio Pasian (2nd place) and Marc-Antoine Cardin (3rd place).

“It was really rewarding to take my second pole and win of the weekend. Sunday’s race was not as action packed as Saturday’s race, since the lead only changed three times early in the race. For the majority of the race I maintained the lead with a decent gap between myself and Jesse (Lazare).”

“At the first of the season I would not have thought that I would be the 2012 champion, let alone secure the title with one full weekend of racing to spare,” said Blok. “The Britain West crew gave me an awesome car every weekend and made my job look easy. They did an incredible job all season, and I can’t thank them enough. I would like to thank all of my sponsors, because without them I would not have been able to have such an incredible season and achieve a back to back championship.””

For information on Nathan Bok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by Flagworld.com

Nathan BlokFor Nathan Blok, the 18-year old 2011 Formula 1600 Champion, the 2012 championship heated up as much as the asphalt at the historic Trois-Rivières racetrack this past weekend in his #1 Aurora Tools / Mr. Lube / Great Slave Helicopter / NAPA car. The 7 & 8th rounds of the Formula Tour 1600 Championship continued under oppressively hot & humid conditions during the GP3R event.

In the qualifying session on Friday evening, Blok had to come to terms with a loose handling car yet he managed to secure the 3rd spot of 26 competitors on the starting grid behind the father & son team of Michel and Olivier Bonnet.

The first F-1600 feature race of the weekend (Race 7 of 12) saw temperatures several degrees hotter than on Friday. Blok had a good start maintaining his 3rd place position into corner 1. Series new-comer, Brandon Newey of the United States, made his presence known by passing both Blok and Michel Bonnet in the hairpin. Blok took advantage of the unsettled Bonnet diving past and securing 2nd place.

For the remaining laps of 25-lap heat, Blok, Michel Bonnet and Newey would trade positions behind leader Olivier Bonnet. After gently brushing the wall coming out of corner 2, Blok began to pull away from Newey and began to gain on the leaders. The race ended with Blok in 3rd place behind Michel (1st) and Olivier (2nd) Bonnet.

“Saturday’s race was very intense at the start, and I was pushing like crazy to catch Brandon Newey and the leaders after Michel had passed me in turn 6. Once I had passed Brandon for 3rd, I was trying everything I could to catch them, but I was struggling with over steer all weekend, and I didn’t have enough time to catch them before the end.”

Sunday’s race saw temperatures even higher along with increased humidity. Starting positions were based on the fastest lap times from Saturday’s race, placing Blok 3rd on the grid again behind Michel & Olivier Bonnet.

The starter gave the green light but Blok did not get the best start and was passed by Newey, Xavier Coupal and Luc Theroux entering the right-hand corner 1 and leaving Blok in 6th position. By corner 8, Blok retook one spot from Theroux for 5th place. Lap 2 saw Newey lock up his wheels and slide off the track putting Blok up into 4th and closing in on Coupal. As Blok passed under the famed arch on the 6th lap and approached Coupal’s gearbox, it became apparent that oil was spitting out the back of his opponent’s car. For the next lap, Blok and Coupal diced for position with several overtaking moves. Unfortunately Blok locked up his tires going into corner 8 allowing Coupal to lead him into lap 8.

Blok regained the position from Coupal in the first corner and he began to pull away, thankful to avoid the oil which was making it extremely difficult for Blok to see. Four laps later, lapped traffic held up Blok allowing Coupal to catch up reinstating their battle. Coupal aggressively crowded Blok off his racing line on the 13th lap yet Blok retook the position one lap later and so it went on until the 24th lap when Coupal locked up his brakes under the Arch, driving into the run-off area and Blok moved up into 3rd place. A full-course caution was declared shortly after that and the race ended under yellow with Blok in 3rd behind Michel (1st) and Olivier Bonnet (2nd).

“I got a poor start, but it didn’t take me long to get my 3rd place starting position back. I was closing on the leaders, but since I was fighting for position with Xavier, that gave the leaders an opportunity to stretch out a lead. The race with Xavier was a good back and forth battle, but his car was leaking oil heavily, making it very difficult for me to see. When he locked up and went off at the Arch, I had an opportunity to close the gap with the leaders. The race ended under yellow, and I was able to secure another 3rd place podium finish for the weekend.”

“We had been fighting with over-steer all weekend and the track conditions were very unpredictable.” Said Blok. “My double podiums this weekend have helped maintain my healthy lead in the championship going into a very important race for me in front of my home crowd at Calabogie in September. I would like to thank the Britain West Motorsport team for all their hard work on a very hot and humid weekend, and I cannot thank my sponsors enough for their support to help make this weekend a success.”

Blok enters Rounds 9 & 10 at Calabogie on September 1st & 2nd, leading the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship by 39 points with just two race weekends left in the season.

For information on Nathan Bok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by Flagworld.com.

Nathan BlokNathan Blok, 2011 Formula 1600 Champion and current 2012 points leader, overcame his battles during the Summer Classic weekend at the famed Mont-Tremblant Circuit. The fifth and sixth races of the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship took place under very hot & humid conditions while Blok dealt with a minor wrist injury from a qualifying session incident.

A shunt by Michel Bonnet during Saturday’s qualifying session left Blok off-track and into a tire wall, luckily leaving the car with minimal damage, but Nathan was left with a sprained wrist. Back on the circuit, Blok qualified his #1 Aurora Tools / Great Slave Helicopter Van Dieman 2nd out of a field of 26 competitors and shared the front row of the starting grid with pole-sitter Matthew Di Leo. Despite the troublesome injury, Blok would finish the weekend out on the podium, with the help of a lot of ice, Advil and a Tensor bandage.

The first F-1600 feature race of the weekend quickly became an impressive 3-way duel between Blok, Di Leo and Michael Adams who started from the third spot. Despite a full-course caution that brought out the Safety Car for two laps, Blok and Adams impressively battled for position the entire 15-lap heat. Coming into the final lap, Di Leo was in the lead when Adams attempted to pass Blok in Turn 4 but was not able to complete the move. Blok and Adams exited side-by-side and remained that way all the way to Turn 7 when Blok came out ahead. Blok defended another passing attempt by Adams in the next corner and would take the checkered flag in 2nd place.

“From the time I was sitting on the grid I knew I would be at a big disadvantage because of the injury I had from qualifying, but fortunately I was able to put it aside, and fight with Matthew (Di Leo) and Michael (Adams) for the early lead,” said Nathan. After the caution, Matthew got an excellent start, and began to pull away, but it was a very intense and fair race for second with Michael, and I was pleased to have come out on top.”

Sunday’s qualifying session for Race 6 of 2012 saw Blok a mere 0.02 seconds behind 2nd place Adams while Di Leo repeated his pole-position.

At the drop of the green flag, Adams made a move for the lead passing Di Leo in Turn 1. Blok stuck with the leaders and in Turn 7 he made his own pass on Di Leo grabbing 2nd place. Now pressuring the leader, Adams put two tires off the road during Lap 3 and Blok capitalized on his mistake taking the lead. Blok and Adams would trade places for the next few laps passing the first lapped car of the field on Lap 8.

A full-course caution eliminated the 11.5 second gap between the two front-runners with Jesse Lazare in 3rd position. When the course returned to green, Blok and Adams made an awesome restart to open the gap between them and Lazare, leaving the two to battle it out for the win. On the 15 th and final lap, Adams got by Blok in Turn 10 for the lead. Blok made two attempts to pass, under the bridge and again in the infamous Namarrow Corner but was unable to make the move stick, settling for his second 2nd place finish of the weekend.

“I was able to pass Mathew and Michael very early in lap 1, and I drafted with Michael to pull a big lead from the rest of the field. Unfortunately the late race caution reduced the gap we had, and after the restart, there was only a few laps to go, and we both fought for the lead to the end. Although i came in second, I am pleased to have extended my lead in the points heading into the prestigious GP3R! I would like to thank the Britain West Motorsports team for preparing an awesome car all weekend, and my many sponsors and supporters for helping me get to the podium.”

Blok enters Rounds 8 & 9 leading the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship by 39 points.

For information on Nathan Blok and sponsorship, visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by Flagworld.com 

Nathan BlokCanada’s 2011 Formula 1600 Champion and current 2012 points leader, Nathan Blok, is proud to officially announce that Aurora Tool Company has signed on as associate sponsor.

Aurora Tools, is a 100% Canadian owned innovative tool company providing high quality, highly engineered tools and industrial MRO products to meet the ever-changing demands of the industrial market. As Canada’s best value in industrial tools, Aurora Tools offers a quality line of air tools, hand tools and a wide variety of shop equipment to meet the highest of demands. Aurora Tools products are available through its Canadian distributor partners coast to coast.

“The Aurora Tools team is very proud to be a new sponsor partner with Nathan Blok Racing”, said Brian Camacho, head
of Aurora Tools Division. “We hope to have a long and mutually beneficial relationship for many years to come.”

“I am very excited to welcome Aurora Tools to our team, and to be able to provide them with a platform to showcase their line of products”, said Nathan. “The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix was a perfect venue to begin our relationship. And if my success there is any indication Nathan Blok Racing and Aurora Tools can look forward to an exciting and prosperous future together.”

Nathan Blok, a multiple championship winning, open wheel sensation from Beachburg Ontario and current leader of the Formula 1600 Series, has many top accolades under his belt in his short time racing. Acknowledged as one of the most promising up and coming open wheel drivers to come out of Canada, Nathan’s accolades include extensive wins and top podium finishes with multiple championships under his belt. Nathans 2013 plans are to explore opportunities to race at a higher level that will challenge him differently than ever before. Potential plans are to advance to the Star Mazda Series and showcase his talent at a higher international level on his road to Formula 1.

For More info on Aurora Tools- Aurora Tools, is a supplier of industrial grade hand and air tools and is widely considered the best value industrial tool brand in Canada. For more information on Aurora Tools, please visit; www.aurora-tools.com

For More info on Nathan Blok-
www.nathanblok.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nathan-Blok-Racing/127635827282556

www.starmazda.com

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

Nathan BlokNathan Blok, the 18-year old 2011 Formula 1600 Champion, returned to the challenging Circuit Mont-Tremblant track north of Montréal. Blok raced his #1 Van Diemen F-1600 in the Formula Libre class as part of the Spring Classic in the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship.

On Saturday, Blok qualified his car 3rd in a field of 20 competitors, a mere 0.3 seconds off the pole.

With the drop of the green flag the first feature 1600 race of the year began with Blok quickly gaining a position in the first corner. A full-course caution was in effect for the next two laps but Blok was ready when the green was shown again. Blok passed Xavier Coupal for the lead and the two drove hard to control the lead position. Coupal went off the course on the 6th lap and Blok would lead the field until Lap 13 when he too left the pavement. Quickly rejoining the race in 7th place, Blok began his charge back up through the field, crossing the line in 6th place behind veteran racer Didier Scharenen

“It was a great race. The car was slowly loosing grip as the race progressed, but I was able to control the slow decline of rear grip fairly well. I was disappointed to have spun out, especially being so close to the end of the race & in a position to go for the win, but it was still a great race.” On Sunday, Blok qualified his car in the coveted pole position for the feature race.

On the start of the second feature race of the weekend Blok maintained his starting position with Coupal hot on his tail. The two young racers diced each other for the lead through the opening laps. Soon lapped traffic became an issue as the two challenged each other for the lead. With side-by-side racing on Lap 9, Blok and Coupal approached the infamous Namarow corner battling for the lead. Blok emerged in front yet Coupal was not giving up. Two laps later on the final lap, Blok threaded the needle between two back-markers in Corner 8 in a breath-taking move. Coupal would challenge Blok one final time in Namarow but Blok successfully defended his line and took the checkers at the finish line.

“The second race was so intense from start to finish, it really is difficult to sum up in a few sentences. It was hard racing, but it was clean and fair, and that’s what made it so much fun. Its great to see that the action was so intense; the Grand Prix should be another excellent race weekend! I would like thank all my sponsors for their support and the Britian-West Motorsport team for preparing an awesome car for me this weekend. All in all, It was a great race, great weekend, and I’m really excited heading to the Grand Prix.”

Photo by R. Fortin

Chris VlokFollowing up his recent podiums at Mont Tremblant and Trois Rivieres, New Zealander Chris Vlok captured the win at the ICAR circuit located in Mirabel Quebec. From his 4th starting spot Chris quickly moved forward and within a few laps was running a solid second place behind recently named Team Canada Scholarship driver Xavier Coupal. When Coupal ran into mechanical problems Chris grabbed the lead and held off the hard charging Olivier Bonnet and Nathan Blok.

The win propelled Chris to 5th in the points and closing fast on the 3rd and 4th drivers in the standings. The team was making its first visit to the circuit and was learning more each session what Chris and his car needed to improve.

With the win under their belt, the team was anxious to get to qualifying for the Sunday event. Chris put the car on the outside pole just 7/100 of a second off the flying Coupal. The race was much like the Saturday version with Coupal being too strong for everyone and Chris leading the pursuit with a train of cars all fighting for position. Chris held second until the final laps when he was forced wide in turn one. While trying to counter and get the spot back, he lost momentum and was passed by the next couple of cars, dropping back to 5th in the blink of an eye. Refusing to give up he quickly attacked and retook a spot and then another as the field raced past the stopped car of leader Coupal, who had a second straight race win disappear only corners from the flag. Crossing the line in 3rd place, Chris moved into 4th in the standings and leads the Rookie points with just two rounds remaining.

“We had high expectations for Chris this weekend as he improves every time he gets in the car and we were not disappointed”, commented team principal Brian Graham. “It was our team’s first visit to ICAR so we knew we would be under pressure to figure out the track quickly so we could give Chris the car he needed to perform to his best. The car was flawless and our engineer made all the right adjustments and the results proved it. We are very excited about the final event at Mont Tremblant and are now focusing on getting the Rookie of the Year locked up and going for a top 3 position in the Championship.”

While BGR Team Grote has put more drivers in the winner’s circle than any other team in OFFC history, this is the first full season for the team to compete in the Formula Tour 1600. The team has now won with two different drivers this season, Trent Hindman who won the support event at the F1 weekend and now Chris Vlok with his win at ICAR. BGR Team Grote currently leads the Rookie points in both the OFFC and the Formula Tour 1600 series. While striving to be the best environment for Karters looking to make the transition to the open wheel ranks, BGR Team Grote encourages interested drivers to contact the team through the team website at www.briangrahamracing.com to learn more.

Originally published at Flagworld.
Photo by Flagworld.

Chris VlokBGR Team Grote was back in action last weekend with New Zealand Driver Chris Vlok putting on a stunning performance for his first time at the second oldest street race in the world and taking his second podium of the season at the famous Trois Rivieres Grand Prix. The Trois Rivieres GP is the second oldest street race in the world to the Monaco GP. Taking a prominent fixture on the podium this past weekend, Chris now leads the Rookie Championship and is coming 6th overall.

The BGR Team Grote entry of New Zealander Chris Vlok was contesting the always exciting Trois Riviere Grand Prix in his first visit to the event, Vlok delighted the team with a very competitive opening round of the doubleheader. Progressing with every lap and learning what the car and Vlok needed, the team improved every time they hit the track. After Qualifying his car P7, Vlok managed to fight his way to 5th place in the first race, but it was when the group hit lapped traffic that Chris was held up in the wrong place and fell back to P7. “It was a tough race”, said Vlok, “The lapped traffic really held me up toward the end, it couldn’t of happened at a worse spot in the circuit and cost me two positions”. “We only had one practice session before qualifying so we didn’t have a lot of time to set the car up properly, and on top of that it was my first time at this track and also on a street circuit”. “So between learning the track and the ins and outs of my first street circuit, we were trying to get the most out of our track time”

The feature race for the Formula Tour 1600 saw Vlok battle his way up to the leaders from 8th as he got faster with every lap, and in the end he was rewarded with an excellent third place and his second trip to the podium this season. “Race two went all to plan, and the changes we made to the car really paid off” Commented Vlok, “I ran in 6th from the end of the first lap, and was slowly left behind by the leading pack, until my tires came in” “From there on in the car was a rocket, and i was able to work my way back up to them” “Lapped traffic again held me back, this time coming after the 2nd safety car as the 1st and 2nd duo pulled away from the two lapped cars in front of me, but with the yellows still out i was stuck behind them, not for long, but the damage had been done and the gap was to big to chase in the two remaining laps” “Another great weekend though and am very happy with the outcome, a big thanks to BGR, Mark, Eric and my sponsors for all the hard work over the weekend.

“We are so pleased with our performances this past weekend and our stable of excellent young drivers,” noted team owner Brian Graham. “We have a great group of mechanics and engineers and were not nervous about our ability to run in two places at the same time, we are just that confident in our crew. Chris gets better every time he gets in the car, for a first timer at the GP3R he did an outstanding job, a podium at the GP3R is so special, he deserved it. Watching our cars run at the front is what we strive for at each race and we are lucky to have such talented drivers in our cars.”

For more information on Chris Vlok, please visit ChrisVlok.com. You can also follow his progress on facebook.com/CVlokMotorsport