Owen Trinkler said he felt like a Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres victory got away from him last season. On Saturday, however, he made sure what happened a year ago did not happen again.
Trinkler and Randy Smalley earned their second consecutive Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner (ST) victory on the 1.521-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit, as Trinkler took the lead from Tom Long in Turn 8 and led the final 40 minutes – or 32 laps of the 91-lap event – in the No. 198 Cruise America/4 Winds RV Mini Cooper S. The pair also won the last race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Trinkler took over from Smalley on lap 3, during the first of three full-course cautions. Falling back as other drivers chose to stay on the track, Trinkler weaved through the field after the restart and up to third during the first hour behind Quebec drivers Jocelyn Herbert and Donald Theetge.
Most teams pitted on lap 56, during the final caution, when Charlie Putman stopped his No. 28 Lifelock MAZDASPEED3 on the track. Among those were Herbert, Theetge and Trinkler, whose RSR Motorsports team fueled the car and changed tires to put Trinkler back on the track third.
Ahead of him was a pair of Freedom Autosport cars, including Long and Andrew Carbonell, who led the field back to the green flag. Moments later, though, contact between Carbonell and the lapped car of VJ Mirzayan – also driving for RSR Motorsports in the No. 197 Cruise America/4 Winds RV Mini Cooper S – spun Carbonell around in Turn 6 and gave Long the lead.
A few laps later, Trinkler – who passed a group of lapped cars on the restart – challenged Long in the same portion of the track for the lead. Trinkler completed the pass in Turn 8, and pulled away, stretching the lead to more than four seconds. The final margin of victory was 4.766sec for Trinkler, who in 2009 led 39 laps from pole only to watch his seat break during a driver change.
"We've worked so hard over the past four years and I felt like this track owed us one," Trinkler said. "Tom (Long) was really quick and if I didn't have those tires it would have been a tougher fight."
The Mini Cooper S has now won two races in a professional setting after earning its first win with the RSR Motorsports team at New Jersey.
"I've always said, ‘To win in this series, at this track would be one of my top picks,'" Smalley said. "We were fortunate enough to also win the last race, so this is really awesome."
Long and Derek Whitis were second in the No. 25 Lifelock Mazda MX-5, while Carbonell, the defending race co-winner, recovered to finished third in the No. 26 Lifelock Mazda MX-5.
Herbert led the first 54 laps after starting from the pole, which he garnered during Friday's qualifications. The Becancour, Quebec, native dueled with fellow Quebec driver Theetge of Quebec City for several laps before both pitted during the third caution. Unfortunately for the pair, however, most teams fielding Honda Civics were forced to change brake pads, leaving drivers on pit road for a lengthy stop.
Herbert and Cyril Hamelin, of Trois-Rivières, were seventh in the No. 98 Trois-Rivières Honda/Auberge Godefroy Honda Civic Si, while Theetge and Benoit Theetge were 13th in the No. 76 HPD/Auto Michel Et Frank Honda Civic Si.
Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann in the No. 81 Performance Friction/Rays Engineering BMW 328i were fourth, opening their championship lead further to 19 points (263-244) over Lawson Aschenbach and David Thilenius in the No. 74 HPD/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si, who finished 12th after Compass360 Racing made the brake change. The two driving pairs are the only duos still in contention for the Street Tuner driving championship, which will be settled in the season finale, the Salt Lake City 200, on Sept. 11 at Miller Motorsports Park.
The Grand Sport (GS) class will also crown its winner, with four drivers in contention to win the title. Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman lead by 10 points (254-244) over Joey Hand and Michael Marsal. Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi won Friday's GS race at Trois-Rivières, driving the No. 13 RumBum.com BMW M3 for Rum Bum Racing.