Jack Mitchell Jr. topped the podium with Tristan DeGrand & Thomas McGregor
Exclusive Autosport (EA), the Canadian Spectrum Race Cars factory team, was impressive at opening round of the Formula Tour 1600 Championship at Circuit Mont Tremblant as they swept the podium capturing P1, P2 and P3.
Jack Mitchell Jr. (17, Clarendon Hills, Illinois) topped the podium with Tristan DeGrand (17, St. Louis, Missouri. P2) and Thomas McGregor (21, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. P3) on either side of him. Max Hanratty (19, Hartland, Wisconsin) finished P14 due to a last lap spin that tossed him into the gravel.
Although the weather has not been favourable, the Exclusive Autosport Spectrum Honda’s and their drivers have certainly responded well to the 2.56 mile 15-turn technical race track.
The team of driver’s set out in today’s qualifying session to work together, catch a draft and go after the pole position. They certainly accomplished their goal. DeGrand, in the #92 Pro Am Golf USA / Exclusive Autosport Spectrum Honda captured the pole position for the opening round with a time of 1:44.824.
Mitchell Jr. in the #90 Exclusive Autosport / Exclusive Management Inc. Spectrum Honda joined his teammate on the front row and qualified in P2 with a hot lap of 1:45.175.
Jack Mitchell and Tristan De Grand at the end of the race
McGregor, in the #93 Exclusive Management Inc./Dairy Queen Spectrum Honda qualified just off the front row in P3 with a fast lap time of 1:45.295.
Hanratty rounded the team’s four-car entry out by running a 1:46.875, enough to place his #91 SynerComm Inc./ Exclusive Autosport. Spectrum Honda in ninth place.
Despite the bitterly cold mountain air, battles began to heat up on track during the first race of the Formula Tour 1600 Championship season. Tristan and Jack managed to pull away from the field early on in green flag action and continued to leap frog exchanging positions for the top spot numerous times. With three laps to go, the two caught lap traffic and ended up making contact. Mitchell went on to take the checkered flag with DeGrand a few seconds behind him.
An early battle broke out between McGregor and Michel Bonnet (in the #2 Vector MG95) for third position. McGregor was forced to go defensive allowing his teammates (in the lead) DeGrand and Mitchell to slip away. Bonnet and McGregor exchanged positions multiple times in a hard fought battle for the final position on the podium. McGregor, who has not seen the podium in two years, was hungry for third and did not concede. He ultimately took the checkered in P3.
Max Hanratty and five of his competitors jockeyed for positions P5 thru P10, going two and three wide through various corners around the track. Unfortunately Hanratty came in too hot in the carousel and spun off into the gravel. He finished a lap down in P14. A disappointing finish for the young driver.
Exclusive Autosport will look to sweep the podium for a second time when racing continues at Circuit Mont Tremblant tomorrow (Sunday, May 26). Qualifications begin at 11 am with the second 15-lap race scheduled to run at 3:20 pm.
Jack Mitchell Jr. (#90 Exclusive Autosport / Exclusive Management Inc.):
“The day started off really well with a great practice session. My #90 Exclusive Autosport / Exclusive Management Inc. Spectrum Honda ran quick all day. We went out there to shake things down and get a good feel for the track conditions and everything in the car. I ran a 1:45.1 which was great. We grabbed a 1,2,3 start in qualifying with Max in the top ten as well. It was a really great team effort. Tristan and I were able to pull away a little bit at the start of the race and we got into a pretty good battle. We ended up running into lap traffic and made contact. I ended up with the win, which is an awesome way to start the season, but it was really unfortunate that Tristan and I touched. I have to thank Michael Duncalfe and Exclusive Autosport for the great car and my family for all of the support and encouragement.”
Tristan DeGrand (#92 Pro Am Golf USA / Exclusive Autosport):
“At the start of the weekend I knew that we would be fast, judging from the team and how they did at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park a few weekend’s ago. Practice went well. I felt really comfortable in the car, after we got the seat fitted properly for me. I knew we had a shot at the pole in today’s qualifying session, if we worked together as a team. We did that and I was able to get a clean lap and get the pole. Going into the race I knew it was going to be a close one, a good drafting battle. It was a really good race. Unfortunately Jack and I made light contact. It is a true testament to the strength of the Spectrum cars. We touched, however we were able to continue and finish 1, 2. I want to thank Pro Am Golf USA, my parents and my family, Exclusive Autosport and the Duncalfe’s, Remi and my mechanic Johnny.”
Thomas McGregor (#93 Exclusive Management Inc. / Dairy Queen) :
“I want to thank Exclusive Management Inc., Exclusive Autosport, Dairy Queen, Michael, my Dad and my family for giving me my first podium in two years. I am really excited about that. It was a really great day. I qualified third and had a good race. I was right there with my teammates, but lost a lot of time when a competitor made an aggressive move on the start which allowed Jack and Tristan to pull away. I knew third was the best I could do today so I really went for it and got it.”
Max Hanratty (#91 SynerComm Inc. / Exclusive Autosport)
“I put down my best time of the day in the morning practice session. I had a pretty nice tow to get it. Qualifying didn’t go as well as I would have liked though. I spun going into the carousel so I ended up losing the team which meant I couldn’t stick to our game plan and get the draft. I still put the car in the top ten which was my goal so I was happy about that. I learned a lot in the process. I had a great pack to race with during the race this afternoon. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately I spun in the carousel and ended up in the gravel pit on the last lap. I came in too fast, was on the brakes too late and tried to avoid one of my competitors. It’s not the way I wanted to finish the race, and it is certainly disappointing, but tomorrow’s qualifying session and race are the focus. Circuit Mont Tremblant is very technical. You really have to drive the car through the corners here. I am continuing to learn each time I am in the car. Being able to work alongside Tristan, Jack and Thomas has really been a huge help. I have learned so much just by watching their video and looking at their data. It has helped me figure out where I need to make adjustments and improvements on track. Thanks to SynerComm Inc., Exclusive Autosport, the crew and my family for everything.”