By Denis Bourbonnais
The 11th edition of the Régates de Saint-Félicien gave us exciting races in all four classes, especially during the consolation heats and the finals. Here are some of the highlights of the third stop on the Hydroplane Racing League (HRL) calendar.
Philippe Billette stands out
In the 2.5 litre class, Philippe Billette surprised everyone aboard the S-7 Air Speed by winning two qualifications in Saint-Félicien and taking the second place in the finals. It was the second time that the driver from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield was stepping on the podium this season and he is currently in third place in the standings.
Samuel Tremblay (S-5) also won two qualifying races in Saint-Félicien, taking his 6th and 7th victories in 8 starts. A defect in his gas pump took the driver out of heat 3B, which lead him to finish in 7th place in the finals.
Kevin Smith, who is making a comeback after a one-year hiatus, won the consolation final over Eric McKenna before taking the third place in the final with the S-26 Dream Weaver.
Yan Beaupré is getting closer
It will not be long before Yan Beaupré wins a final in the Formula 2500 class. In Saint-Félicien, the driver of the F-36 Yancy won two qualifications and finished second in the other one. During the ultimate race, he lead for three laps before Donald Leduc could pass him, using the inner lane. It was déjà vu for Beaupré who saw Rob Stevenson do the same thing in Beauharnois last year.
Tyler Kaddatz stepped on the podium for the second time in a row with his F-519 Ah Sum Secret. The driver from Brockville (Ontario) won a consolation final that could hardly be more entertaining. He crossed the finish line a mere 19 hundredth of a second in front of Yves Villeneuve (F-6 Graf-X). In the final, Kaddatz finished in third place after taking the second position in Long Sault. Jean-François Latour flipped during Saturday’s qualifications, but still came back on Sunday with a new hull, the F-8 FBL Special being completely wrecked.
A win for Louis Allard
Louis Allard took his first victory in the 1D qualifying heat on Saturday in Saint-Félicien. It is only his second season on the HRL circuit with the H-4 Big Decision. Michel Raymond and his H-71 M2K had a satisfying weekend, ending in 1st, 3rd and 2nd position in each qualification and in 5th place in the final. Raymond and Nicolas Rousse were neck in neck throughout the 3D heat, which Rousse took with only 31 hundredth of a second.
Jimmy King was perfect in “Saint-Fé” with 4 wins in as many races in the H-12 Pleasure Seekers. The veteran from Michigan is in fact undefeated in 5 starts this year. For professional reasons, the owner Roger Mahan is unable to attend the Brockville stop and will not take the boat to every competition on the calendar.
The H-12 will only race in Valleyfield and Tonawanda (NY), which means Nicolas Rousse is the favorite to take the championship this year with the H-225 Harley Davidson Valleyfield. Before the 1000 Islands Regatta & Festival, Rousse is in the lead, 46 points ahead his closest rival Richard Haineault (H-2 Miss Beauharnois).
Andrew Tate is down on his luck
It was a frustrating weekend for Andrew Tate who could not get the GP-101 Fat Chance Too to start in the finals. The unfortunate event came after Tate had earned the inner lane after winning two qualifications and finishing in second place in the third one. His DNS benefited Bert Henderson (GP-777 Steeler) who, from the 4th lane, flew past Eric Langevin (GP-12 Long Shot) and never looked back.
There was a string of bad luck amongst the Quebec drivers, including Martin Rochon who could not take part in the final because both motors on the GP-77 Coppertone failed the day before. Bertrand Dulude (GP-48 Zero Gravity) did not race all weekend, while Mathieu Daoust (GP-9 Ameublement N Lalonde) forfeited the consolation finals, out of engine to use. Pierre Maheu also had to bow out of the consolation heat because of damages to the motor on Ken Brodie’s GP-50 Intensity. Mario Blain (GP-757 Canada Boy) came close to getting into the final during the consolation, but Tom Thompson crossed the finish line before him in the wooden boat GP-525 Fat Chance.
To read the article in the Journal Saint-François: http://www.journalsaint-francois.ca/sports/2016/6/29/echos-des-regates-de-saint-felicien.html [French version only]