Eric Langevin and Philippe Billette, two drivers from the province of Quebec, were victorious for the very first time of the season in their respective classes, this Sunday, at Thunder on the Niagara, in Tonawanda (NY), near Buffalo.
What was bound to happen finally did in the Grand Prix class, when Eric Langevin came out on top in the finals, following several successful runs in the past few weeks.
The driver from Mercier capitalized on a great start, as he and his GP-12 Long Shot were starting from the 2nd lane. Langevin raced all the way to the top of the podium, resisting a persistent Tom Pakradooni aboard the GP-88 Rolling Thunder. The former completed the four laps in 2 m 31 s, 16, more than three seconds in front of his rival from Pennsylvania.
“This moment is a long time coming. Winning a Grand Prix final is a dream come true”, said Eric Langevin after jumping in the agitated waters of the Niagara River. “I had to be extremely focused the whole time because we were not racing in the best conditions and Tom (Pakradooni) was chasing me all along from the inner lane”, he added before celebrating with his wife and crew.
Marty Wolfe (GP-93), Mathieu Daoust (GP-9), Mario Blain (GP-757) and Martin Rochon (GP-77) followed to the finish line in that order. Ken Brodie, the local favourite, was forced to forfeit aboard the GP-50 Intensity. Mathieu Daoust had to take the start from the second line because of a controversial decision that took away his victory in the Saturday 1B qualifying heat.
Bert Henderson, the winner of all three finals presented by the Hydroplane Racing League before this weekend, ended his winning streak as the engine of the GP-777 Steeler did not make it through the 2A heat held early on Sunday. Brandon Kennedy (GP-25) was stopped by a defective helm and Bertrand Dulude (GP-48) was bothered by mechanical problems and forfeited on Saturday.
Philippe Billette wins
In the 2.5 litre class, Philippe Billette was collecting victories, but finally reached the top of the podium in the finals behind the wheel of the S-7 Air Speed. The driver from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield ended with a three-second lead over Kevin Smith (S-26), from Massachusetts, followed by Claude Abbott (S-67), Tommy Shannon (S-4), Philippe Cardinal (S-222) and Sébastien Leduc (S-100), who was penalized.
In the Hydro 350 class, the Hendersons fought closely until the end, but Kent pushed the H-777 Team Toban to a third win in a row this season. His brother Bert was driving the H-12 Pleasure Seekers and offered an exciting challenge to the leader until mechanical problems forced him to stop mid-race. Donny Allen took the second position with the H-14 Legacy 1, followed by Patrick Haworth (H-79), Jonathan Daoust (H-15), Sylvain Dorais (H-32), Rémy Leblanc (H-799) and Michel Raymond (H-71).
The Formula 2500 class saw a first-time winner this season take the honors as Douglas Rapp (F-79) crossed the finish line in front of Donald Leduc (F-1), Yan Lecompte (F-28) and Bobby Kennedy (F-9). The latter completed the race with a giant hole in the hull of the Rewinder.
Bobby King (F-242) and Yan Beaupré (F-36) were too quick on the start of the final, which turned out to be restarted. Rob Stevenson (F-10) put out the beginning of a fire the first time around, while Tyler Kaddatz (F-519) lost control of his hydroplane in the first turn on the second start.