INTRO – By Editor ‘arris
|Just happy to be there.Photo: Marc Anctil
Team CMG’s Pascal Anctil managed to pull off a respectable seventh place in the first round of the Diablo SV Cup at Shannonville in May. But seventh just isn’t very CMG. You gotta either win, almost win, or come dead last (preferably after a spectacular crash requiring a long stay in the local hospital). With this in mind, our intrepid and fool-hardy racer packed up his cowboy hat, steak knife and ill-fitting leathers, and headed west to Calgary.
Words: Pascal Anctill Photos: Richard Seck, unless otherwise noted
BIG SKY COUNTRY
So I arrived at the Race City fresh off the plane only to find out that my bike hasn’t arrived yet! No panic, my folks (who were bringing it across country for me) said they’d meet me here and they’re always dependable. Well, so far. Sure enough, they eventually roll in after a three-day cross-country drive and claim that the unscheduled mini-tour of Calgary was just that, and nothing to do with getting lost at all. No, not my dad.
|Pascal psyches himself up to change the sprocket.Photo: Marc Anctil
So far I’ve spent very little time talking about setting up the bike because I set the baseline during testing at the beginning of the season and the SV seems to be happy at that. As a result I’ve been sticking to it religiously. But Calgary is special, with the longest straightaway in Canada, but very tight and technical everywhere else. Gearing was going to require some alteration if I wasn’t going to be left behind on that straight.
I opted to fit the smallest sprocket that I had onto the rear before I even reached the track. A few laps later I realize this was still not enough; it was time to replace the front with something bigger. Now those who know me know how great a wrench I am … I mean, I’ve never changed a front sprocket in my life kind of wrench.
|Still psyching …Photo: Marc Anctil
The SV must have sensed this and stubbornly refused to let go off the securing nut. Eddy Brunet, the Diablo Suzuki race team manager, saw my farcical wrench attempts and after a few smart-ass comments, offered to help. Even using the team’s massive air compressor and impact driver, the thing would not budge. Turns out that all I needed was a 5 foot long bar attached to a half inch ratchet and 3 strong bodies. Huh, not much to this wrenching thing after all …
Needless to say I was happy that I’d bought a Diablo bike and that the team was so willing to help me out. I believe Eddy also helped out another Diablo mounted rider that weekend … nice guy that Eddy.
Eddy, can I take my bike in for an oil change and complimentary wash now? And do you have a towel – my nose seems to have turned brown?
LEARNING RACE CITY
|“Watch out for the Quebec guy”. Pre-grid chatter in CalgaryPhoto: Marc Anctil
I seemed to have hit the gearing just about right and was now able to spend some laps in qualifying learning the track. Funny thing was – after a few laps following some of the local pro’s, I had gotten really comfortable. Seems to me that the Calgary track is just St-Eustache (my home track) with a longer straightaway, i.e. bumpy, shitty pavement and damn scary!
Shutting off what was left of my brain, I ignored the omnipresent walls, put my head down and managed to qualify a very acceptable second. This not only shocked me, but also a few locals in the process – putting heat on the local hot shoe Tom Cody (AM#144).
The race started in the rain but was somewhat uneventful, drying out by mid-race. Although I managed to get in the fastest lap, Tom was determined to do well on home turf. I could keep up to him, and I even passed him once thanks to a lapper hindering Tom’s progress, only to get passed right away as more lappers proceeded to hinder my progress!
|Tucking in for the draft move.Photo: Marc Anctil
Damn lappers and their poetic justice.
The race was getting on and I wasn’t having much luck with any breaks. I figured that my best hope lay with trying to draft him on that long straight, pass him just before the first corner and then try and pull away in the St. Eustache-like twisties.
It was a good plan but there was one major problem. You see Tom is not exactly of the large persuasion – I’d say 5’6”, 130ish pounds. This makes him extremely hard to draft for a ‘normal’ sized human (I’m 6”0”, 190 pounds). No matter how hard I tried I could not manage the elusive draft.
Then, on the final lap, Tom took a wide line into the chicane without protecting the inside, presenting me the opportunity to stuff him. It was going to be a tight pass though, with as much chance of a crash as a clean pass. Besides, there were still a few more opportunities ahead for him to return the courtesy and/or for us to crash.
I opted for the points and passed the checkered flag in second. Although I would have quite happily accepted first, I was pleased with second, which gave me my first National trophy and an overall second place in the championship points, only 9 points away from the leader.
Calgary had been good for me; Mosport could be better …
|Getting comfortable at the daunting Mosport track.
Well, as my fellow competitor (and Armour Bodies wizard) Billy Solmes (AM#913) said, there is enough drama in the Diablo SV Cup this year to make a reality TV Show… and no, I’m not thinking about the Trailer Park Boys. It’s an accurate statement but I hope this weekend was the peak of this drama series, ‘cause I can’t take too much more of this!
Time for practice at Mosport was limited – only 20 minutes before our actual timed qualifying – so I knew I had to learn the intricacies of Mosport in a hurry. My previous experience with this technical track is limited to a rather scary race weekend last year. Like all traumatic events in my life, my memory had erased all recollection of that weekend, so I entered the track almost as a newbie.
|Pascal leads the crowd over the hill to the infamous turn 2.
Practice was mixed as our transponders failed to report any lap times for that morning session, so I had absolutely no clue where I was standing versus my competition. At least I now knew which turns turned where and by how much! Note to self: look at track map beforehand in future.
So out I go for qualifying with a promise from my mentor and friend Rob Trottier to wave me in if my times had earned me a spot in the front row of the race. Within a few laps I see the frantic waving from Rob and so head into the pits. I was running third, which was quite respectable, given that many had been practicing the weekend before while I was still waiting for my bike to return from Calgary (my parents opting to take it easy on the return journey – slackers).
|Going all-out to get pole position.Photo: www.colourtech.ca
I stayed in the pits for a while, content that third meant I would be starting the race in the front row. Well, that plan was fine until Jason Haine (AM#669) pulled his fastest lap, demoting me to fourth place – only one spot away from row two. Not wanting to take any chances about being bumped, and yet with only three minutes left in the session, I decided to head out and try to pull a rabbit out of my hat.
The rabbit appeared as a 1:35.6 lap time that put me in the pole position – for both races. The double-whammy of supreme happiness was an additional four championship points that came with the pole position, thanks to it being a double-header weekend. Hah!
More drama unfolded when Marc St-Amand (Pro#44), archrival and current points leader, crashed returning to the pits in the back of a truck. He had completed the second fastest time but the rules state that if he failed to get it back together for the pre-race dyno testing, then his qualifying times would not count. He did. I was very happy for him. Very … 🙂
THE BICKERING BACHELOR(S)
|Watching the rain while roughing it in the palatial motor home with a chow mein and a fine Chianti.
Saturday was race day. In pre-race practice my time dropped to 1:35.1, but that was still good enough for fastest time of the session and a well-timed ego-boost. I was feeling good and felt that I had a real chance at actually winning this one.
The race turned out to be a real kicker.
Blue skies were blocked by dark clouds, and I couldn’t make up my mind whether I should go out with rains or dry (DOT) tires. There was no choice – it was time for a little espionage. I decided to spy on amateur #6 Gilles (viens t’assir su mon’oncle) Biron to see what he was running.
You see, Gilles has an uncanny ability to predict the weather thanks to his advanced age – I actually believe he graduated high school the same year as Mother Nature. Well, shocker, his pit crew were mounting wets. After playing a few mind games with him (mostly lying), I rushed back to my pits to swap my wheels for a pair that I’d premounted with rain tires (thanks eBay!).
|“I have wets”.
Off to the grid I go. Looking around me on the pre grid, I notice that most of the other racers had decided to stay with DOT’s… I was smiling ear to ear with the belief that Gilles knew Mother Nature personally.
At the start of the warm up laps, my confidence was through the roof … until turn 3. It was bone dry! Yep, it was raining in the pits, in turn 1 and in turn 2, but turn 3 was dry. As it happens, so were 4 and 5 and half the straightaway! Mosport is a long track (4km or so) and half of it was dry.
Cursing Gilles for lying to me, I knew I had to be fast enough in the initial wet sections of the track so that my DOT mounted competitors couldn’t catch me in the dry portions.
|“Oh make it rain, make it rain, pah, pah, pah … “. The rain song does its job.Photo: www.colourtech.ca
It all started so well – I had a good launch off the grid and immediately took the lead. At turn 5 I glanced behind to see how much of a lead I’d gained, and saw Gilles riveted to my ass. This wasn’t the plan! I had to do something to put some major real estate between us.
Coming out of corner 10 I got a little sideways, thanks to an overly aggressive right hand. It was no big deal … until I drifted wide enough to hit the curbing and got real sideways – I mean hitting-the-steering-stop sideways. Somehow I managed to stay upright and on two wheels, but my antics seemed to create the unexpected benefit of spooking Gilles sufficiently that I was now getting away from him.
It was a lucky break but the track was still a mix of wet and dry and I was still paranoid that St-Amand was going to catch up. There was no alternative but to start singing my highly secretive “make it rain song”.
After two laps of split concentration between riding and singing I got my wish. And boy did I. Enough rain that the straightaway became real slippery and lack of visibility became a serious concern. After my fourth lap the organizers opted to stop the race.
They were supposed to restart it, but because of weather and time constraints they decided to call the results final. Since I was leading at that point I was awarded my first National win! I’d rather have done it another way but I’ll take it nonetheless, thank you. The complaining that ensued would have put to shame the bickering women seen on The Bachelor…
I’ll move on now, as I don’t think I’m making any new friends here!!!
THE AMAZING RACE
|Getting the hole-shot.
Sunday arrived with clear skies and stayed nice and sunny for our second race. I was now sitting in the lead of the Championship points race, but I knew some of my competitors were primed and ready for battle. Now was NOT the time to pull a CMG (i.e. crash)!
I had another great start and by the first 3 laps had started to pull away from the pack. But, this wouldn’t be worthy of reality TV (or even CMG) if I weren’t about to experience more drama …
This happened between turns 5a and 5b, when I went wide, pushed the front while on the cement strip and got real close to losing it. Since you can’t win a race if you don’t finish, I decided to play it safe and slow down a tiny bit.
|Bushe (89) takes Pascal on the inside, Busby (66) moves up for the draft.
I must have slowed down a bit too much as in the next lap Matt Bushes (AM#89) took the inside of me in turn 1. It was a nicely orchestrated move that caught me totally by surprise. Matt had come up from dead last because he had missed qualifying due to bike troubles. To say he was smokin’ is an understatement – the kid was on a mission!
I knew he wasn’t a championship threat so I elected to just keep up with him and maybe try to pass him on the last lap if the opportunity presented itself. It was a good plan, but keeping up to him was proving to be more challenging than I expected.
Just as I was starting to think second place wasn’t such a bad spot to be, Rob Busby (Pro#66) drafted past me on the straightway. Put out by this blatant act of irreverence I passed him right back on the brakes at the end of the straight … only to have a repeat performance on the next lap.
But moment number three was still in store and no one bothered to warn me. I went wide in Mosport’s infamous turn 2, all the way into the marbles! Trust me this is not the place you want to go wide. I somehow managed to survive my slight miscalculation, only to have Rob blow by me on the inside. Tabarnak!
Ok, third ain’t bad. Besides, both of those guys aren’t in the championship race anyway.
|Bushe starts to creep away from a hapless Pascal.
Well guess what? More drama! It’s a repeat performance of the Rob Busby move, only this time it’s Gilles Biron who passes me on the straight only to have me get him back on the brakes. This happens again on the last lap, but this time I went so deep on the brakes that I actually saw St-Joseph at the doors of heaven.
But my time had not come. Was I actually welcome there anyway?
I manage to stay up on two wheels and take third, just barely hedging out Gilles. Rob Busby managed to pass Matt Bushe on the last turn of the last lap (as Matt got caught up with a lapper) for the win. Trying to keep up to those two maniacs – and the pressure from old man Gilles – had brought out my best lap of the weekend: 1:34.0, slightly behind Busby’s best of 1:33.9.
That makes three podium finishes in 4 races, and I’m now top of the overall points standing (how very un-CMG of me). We are at the halfway mark of the season with only three races left, a double header at Tremblant and then to Shannonville for the grand finale.
I’m feeling good, if I can avoid crashing or DNFing I have a real chance at the overall championship. But the pressure is on the others to catch up. All I need do however, is finish my races ahead of second placed St-Amand at Tremblant, so that I come back to Shannonville with a good points lead.
Sounds easy, but I fear (factor) more high drama. For love or money, I just want the simple life.
CURRENT TOP SIX CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
|1 – SHANNONVILLE
|2 – CALGARY
|3 – MOSPORT
|4 – MOSPORT
|42 + 3
|50 + 4
|50 + 2
|29 + 3
|42 + 2
|42 + 3
|29 + 1
Note – POS = Position, NS = No Show, DNF = Did Not Finish, DNS = Did Not Start, + = Qualifying points
Carrera Canada for the Forcefield back protector.
Philippe (aka Frenchy) at Le Complexe de la Moto for his time…
The good folks at Colour Tech for providing us with the stellar shots of Pascal, for use in this article.
P.S. We are still looking for sponsors to help Pascal with the costs of racing. Actually, we’re always looking for sponsors for anything.