By Denis Bourbonnais
It was only a matter of time for Marc Lalonde… After satisfying his thirst for speed in ATV, karting and ice racing competitions, the Valleyfield-born felt the ultimate thrill on his first laps on the water.
“I am an adrenaline junky and it came naturally behind the wheel of a hydroplane. Since the very first testing, I felt something I can’t live without anymore,” describes the driver who stepped on the podium on his 2nd weekend in the competitive Formula 2500 class in Beauharnois, in 2018.
Marc Lalonde and his family members have never missed an edition of the Régates de Valleyfield. His father, Jean Lalonde, was in fact the mechanic for Laurent and Pierre Métivier with the “Miss Laupie” back in the ‘70s.
“We are captivated by engines. Personally, I have always been an undying fan of regattas and this excitement reached a whole new level since I’ve started driving a hydroplane,” mentions the 35-year-old competitor.
The “Lalo Racing” F-751 driver admits that the need for such adrenaline bursts can seem strange for those who have not experienced it. “The waves, the danger, the feeling of taking the boat to its lightest while keeping it on the water… it becomes a challenge for which the reason is hard to explain. I have really been having a blast since my arrival in the HRL,” explains Marc Lalonde, who did not wait to push his boat to the limit.
The least we can say is that the driver hit the ground (or water) running at the beginning of his career in the Summer of 2018. Only a few weeks after acquiring Guillaume Charette’s “Project 6”, Marc Lalonde impressed the crowd on his powerboating debut at the North Tonawanda (N.Y.) event. Forced to start from the outside lane because of driving restrictions, he held his own against the best in the Formula 2500 class, on the tumultuous waters of the Niagara River, flying by like a rocket despite his unfavourable position.
A few weeks later, Marc Lalonde did not slow down at the Régates de Beauharnois, when he led his “Lalo Racing” to a 3rd place in the F-2500 final heat. This podium won on his 2nd event is a rare feat and despite his late arrival on the regattas scene in 2018, the new fan-favourite on the HRL circuit received an award at the Champions Gala.
Marc Lalonde was named Rookie of the year of the Hydroplane Racing League at the annual event held at the Hotel Plaza Valleyfield in January of 2019.
New Primeau Performance engine
A set of circumstances made it so Marc Lalonde could not re-enact his achievements on his 2nd campaign. A crash at the Régates de Saint-Félicien slowed down his momentum and it took some time to restore the right settings on the boat.
“I had to go through that. As a driver, only one day was necessary for me to get over the accident. We still needed to make changes to eventually restore the set ups, in addition to adjustments we had to make on the mechanical side,” remembers Marc Lalonde, who acquired a new “Primeau Performance” engine for the season to come.
The results obtained on the last races of the 2019 season gave a glimpse of the return to good fortune once racing begins post-pandemic. As he did in September of 2018, Marc ended the season on a successful note on Lake Hopatcong (New Jersey), by securing a 2nd place in one of the two finals that took place during the American Power Boat Association event.
More than ever, because of the forced break due to the spread of COVID-19, Marc Lalonde is impatient to get back into action. “I hope it will be this year. Our team is ready. Participating in a few events could help us prepare for the 2022 season,” mentions the man who will act as the substitute driver for two teams in the Hydro 350 class, the « Allard-Ménard.com » H-799 and the “Charpentek” H-666 of Danny Léger.
Marc Lalonde recognizes that he wants to make the jump to H-350 once he has done his time in Formula 2500. Meanwhile, he will take advantage of all the crew members who supported him in 2019, including his brother Bruno Lalonde (head mechanic), Brian Turpin (crew chief), Benoit Rousse (radio communications), Francis Babineau, Kim Léon, as well as his other family members, his father Jean Lalonde, his mother Jocelyne, his spouse Marie-Eve Leduc and his son Chad, who is 6 years old.
The driver insists on the importance of having a trusting relationship with his spotter. “Benoit Rousse is constantly in my ear. He talks to me throughout the race. I am rarely more than 5 seconds without hearing him and that is what I want. He constantly encourages me,” praises Marc Lalonde. “I also want to thank all of our sponsors that have stayed with us, even through this pandemic,” he adds.
In a previous interview, Marc Lalonde introduced himself as a “lunchbox guy” whose passion for hydroplane racing took over. Since then, the plumber by trade for over 16 years has partnered with his friend Maxime Larocque in his company.
As for his projections for the next season, Marc Lalonde aims for a top 5 in each event and, ideally, a spot in the first 3 in the overall rankings. “The main goal is more consistency, but, of course, podiums would be even more satisfying. With a new engine, new propellers, refreshed equipment and new colours, we have high hopes,” wishes Marc Lalonde.
Photo Credits: Rod Windover Photographer