Words: Pascal Anctill Photos: Richard Seck, unless otherwise noted
|A shy Pascal finds relief polishing his helmet – especially when in front of the ladies.Photo: Rob Harris|
Motivation can come from the strangest places. After winning the shortened round 3 at Mosport (see previous article) and reading some of the posts on internet forums, I got a distinct feeling that some people didn’t think I “deserved” the win, and that the fastest SV racer was not the one leading the championship.
How could a laid back, non confrontational, shy AND quiet guy like me demonstrate his disagreement at this statement other than by a good performance at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant ???
With such talk, and the fact that a good performance at Tremblant could theoretically even get me the championship, I was pumped and ready for battle. No more Mr. Nice Guy! Although I can’t recall ever being called that … never mind, let’s move on.
Mont Tremblant is a technical track, with elevation changes, some super-fast turns mixed in with super-tight ones and best of all, a glassy smooth surface. I’d splurged $275 for a track day earlier in the year so this time I knew which turns turned left and which ones turned right. I was as ready as I’d ever be, all I needed to do was get a feel for how my competition was going to tackle the track and formulate a masterful plan that would take into account any possible variable.
PRACTICE, QUALIFY, POLE
Thursday and Friday were purely practice days and I went out and did some decent lap times right off the bat, or so I thought. By the end of Friday three of us were in the 1:54s; Gilles (Pappy) Biron (#6) – a potential championship contender – and Alain (Testosterone) Lefebvre (#410) – having a go at his first SV National race after some awesome performance at the regional level. More importantly, my biggest championship threat, Marc St. Amand (#33), was turning 1:56s, placing him fourth at the end of Friday.
Since I was trying to stretch the budget by running the practice days on old rubber, I knew that I could shave off a couple of seconds by running a new set of soft compound tires the next day. What I didn’t know was if those other Quebec nutcases, um, I mean racers, had the same in reserve. To my surprise the Ontario folks were seemingly having difficulties adapting to Le Circuit. It must have been the French signs … or more likely, the French women?
|Pulling a 1:52 lap time.|
Saturday was timed qualifying, with a practice session in the morning. My day’s plan was simple: pull a lap time in the 1.52s and sit out the rest of the session and see if anyone was hiding anything from me.
It took me seven long laps to finally get the signal from my pit crew (the lovely and talented Miss Brunet) that I’d achieved my goal. The fresh tires did their job and I pulled a very satisfactory 1:52.8. This turned out to also be the fastest lap, which not only gave me pole on the grid, but a much appreciated four additional championship points as well.
Marc St. Amand wasn’t having a good day and qualified 8th with a 1.55.3. I was starting to feel really good about this weekend as I needed all the points I could get before the last round at Shannonville – Marc’s home track – giving him a distinct advantage. 21 points separated us before this weekend, boosted to 25 with my pole win. Still, there’s a maximum of 54 points to be had at a race, and the more of those that I took the better I’d feel.
ON THIS SUNDAY
|Despite his small stature, Alain was a formidable counterpart. However, it was always ‘friends’ off the track.|
During the 75 minute drive from my place to the track, not much was said to my support crew. I had created The Plan the night before and the ride up was the time to go over it again and again in my head. The Plan had a solution for any scenario I could think of: good start, bad start, first three laps, mid race, last two laps, different tactics for different opponents … in other words I was as ready as I’d ever be.
I decided to start the morning session from the back to give me a chance to practice my passing, … no, no, no, I wasn’t second guessing my ability to get the holeshot but, you know, better safe than sorry.
During practice I actually caught up to Alain and decided it was time to put him in his place and crush his ego by passing him in a place that he’d remember. So after a lap of following him and studying his lines, I decided that turn 5 – a full throttle fifth gear left hander – was going to be the backdrop of my mind crushing, ego deflating pass. I wanted to see him weep like a little girl in front of my absolute superiority!
So I came in wide and proceeded to pass him on the outside – I showed him good. I was the king!
|The track Doc accidentally hits Pascal’s “off” switch.Photo: Rob Harris|
Back in the pits I was graciously withholding any emotions and anxiously waiting to hear what he had to say about my passing mastery. He’d have to admit that he was defeated … I even half expected him to pack up and leave. Then he came over with THAT smile on his face, whacked me on the back and thanked me for showing where he could save a good second a lap.
What?!?!? This was not part of The Plan. How can he become even more confident? Maybe I’m the one that should pack up and leave?
With a 5 hour gap between the end of practice and the actual race, I spent all 300 minutes of it nervous, stressed and not so confident anymore. Is there such a thing as competitive knitting that I could do instead?
Then, just before the race, I gained some much needed ego back. My friend Philippe (Frenchy) Durand gave me a highly motivational speech that essentially translates into something like this: Think that you’re just going to get some beer – it’s nothing more than a beer run. For some stupid reason, at that exact time and location, it made sense to me. And I’m good at doing beer runs!
RESURECTING THE PLAN
|Editor ‘arris gives some last minute advice. Pascal tries not to puke.|
After the warm up lap, I took my position on the grid and focused on the job ahead. I wasn’t nervous anymore, although I suddenly had a strong urge to hurl. Before I could lift my visor and point toward Alain, the light goes green and off we go. I catch Alain’s front wheel shoot for the sky out the corner of my eye but I keep my SV’s front low and get to turn 1 first.
After the holeshot, The Plan calls for three fast laps, followed by a backward glance on the straightaway to gauge where the competition are.
Since my brain can only focus on a couple things at the same time I forget all about my stomach woes and proceed to work on completing three fast laps. No-one has showed me a front wheel yet so I’m thinking my lap times should be quick.
Lap three comes around and I peek back to see Alain in second with Matt Bushes (#89) on his tale. I have a good gap but The Plan calls for consistency, so I keep my head down and don’t let up.
|Alain, Matt and Gilles chase Pascal.|
The next lap and I’m astonished to see Matt’s now behind me in second place but I still have a good gap. Flashbacks of Mosport (round 4) hit me, where Matt started dead last only to pass me within just four laps after I slowed down because I thought I had an insurmountable lead! I had no intention of letting him do that to me again.
There was only one thing to do – push harder! I decide that it’s time to pull a Hail Mary at the end of the straight – keep my fingers off the brakes until I see God, count to two and then hit them brakes hard! But the right hander is now coming faster than expected (duh!) so I lean the bike hard. I’m starting to run out of cornering clearance but that’s a small worry as I go wide into the marbles and the front starts to tuck. Not good!
If I survive this crash – and that’s far from a certainty going in around 10,000rpm in fourth gear – I’m going to have to kill myself for trying such a stupid move. I need to somehow keep the bike turning while regaining traction up front and stop carrying most of the bike’s weight on my knee.
I’d like to tell you exactly what move of skill I did to save it but all I know is that I did save it … somehow. Youpee! (Youpee? – Editor ‘arris).
The next lap I see that Alain has gotten by Matt for second place. I decide that I can’t slow down, but I can’t go any faster either. Consistency is my friend; at least I hope it is.
|“I am the King of Tremblant”. Pascal surveys his new domain.|
For the next few laps the gap stays the same and I take a moment to consult The Plan, which calls for me to slow down a tiny bit on the last two laps and not to do anything stupid (again). I manage to do this and come around at the end of lap ten to take the chequered flag and the win! I’m so ecstatic I forget to slow down for the chicane and I have to take the bypass … on the cool-down lap.
After the victory lap I ask an official where Marc St. Amand had finished. Apparently he crashed out in lap 6 and ended up with a DNF (Did Not Finish). I immediately go back into the deep recess of my brain to grade four math and start counting on my fingers.
At the start of the weekend I was 21 points ahead of Marc. I’ve just added 54 points on that (4 points for pole and 50 for the win), and since he’s just DNF’d he’s now out of the reckoning. Third place in the championship was Gilles, who just came in fourth for another 33 (32 + 1) points. But I had 55 points on him before this weekend and have just added another 21 to that. Since there’s only 54 possible points in a perfect weekend and there’s only one weekend left … Christ, I think I just won the whole enchilada!
I talk to some friends and after doing some quick math they concur. So this is what it feels to win a Championship? I’m tired and wonder whether championship sex is better than make-up sex.
|It’s all fun and games until someone pops a cork.Photo: Rob Harris|
After the podium celebration I learn that Alain has the new lap record for Tremblant doing a 1.51.8 – that’s a whole 0.7 seconds faster than my fastest lap. In my post race analysis (sounds good no?), I notice that I’ve done 7 of the 10 race laps within three tenths of a second – all in the 1.52.5 to 1.52.8 range. I’m really pleased with that because I’ve been struggling with consistency in past races.
Later that night, while I’m celebrating my victory at the Playboy mansion with hundreds of my new Playmate groupies, I awake from the dream, back in reality and ponder the whole event. Damn, I’m still the same guy, just with an extra trophy in my basement. Oh well, it’s been a great season and a great race – and all done according to The Plan.
There’s one more race in the series at Shannonville on September 3 – 5. Although I’ve already got the championship, a race is a race and I’ve no intention to back off … although I think I could do it without trying another Hail Mary move!
PS: The Championship winning bike is for sale and I’m looking for sponsors for next year in the 600 class. Anyone?
CURRENT TOP FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
|RIDER INFO||1 – SHANNONVILLE||2 – CALGARY||3 – MOSPORT||4 – MOSPORT||5 – TREMBLANT||CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Pascal Anctil||81A||6||27||2||42 + 3||1||50 + 4||3||37||1||50 + 4||1||217|
|Marc St. Amand||44P||1||50 + 2||5||29||5||29 + 3||5||29||DNF||0||2||142|
|Gilles Biron||6A||4||32||NS||0||2||42 + 2||4||32||4||32 + 1||3||141|
|Matt Bushe||89A||2||42 + 3||NS||0||DNF||0||2||42||3||37 + 2||4||126|
Note – POS = Position, NS = No Show, DNF = Did Not Finish, DNS = Did Not Start, + = Qualifying points
|HJC Helmets Techlusion FI Box
Carrera Canada for the Forcefield back protector.
Philippe (aka Frenchy) at Le Complexe de la Moto for his time…