BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - Race tracks across Canada are littered with the rusted carcasses of sports car series that flashed and burned over the past decade.
But it looks as if the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship — the latest to try to survive and now in its third season — could be the real deal.
In its first race of the 2010 season Saturday at Mosport International Raceway’s Victoria Day Speedfest no less than 34 Hondas, BMWs, Subarus, Hyundais, Pontiac Solstices and even a Mini Cooper took to the 3.98-kms road course.
That, by way of comparison, was about a dozen more than were to start Saturday night in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season-opener at Delaware Speedway.
At the checkered flag it was Marc-Antoine Camirand, of St-Leonard d’Asto, Que., who launched his No. 96 Super Touring BMW M-Coupe from the pole and refused to give up the lead over the 20 lap-race.
Defending series champion Nick Wittmer, of Montreal, was second in the No. 1 Honda.
“I got off to a tremendous start and I was able to keep Nick behind me,” Camirand said. “The BMW horsepower really helped, especially on the long back straight.”
Camirand caught a big break, however, when Wittmer took his Honda too wide coming out of Turn 10 about half way through the race and drove for about the length of a football field in the grass at the start finish line.
While Wittmer made a valiant effort he was never able to get close enough again to contend for the win.
Anthony Rapone, of Thornhill, won the Touring class in the No. 72 Honda Civic SI with Karl Thomson in the No. 71 Honda Civic SI second.
“I was fortunate to get (one of the Super Touring) cars between me and Karl,” Rapone said.
Both will try for back-to-back wins Sunday in round two of the series at Mosport.
Also on tap Sunday is the second of two World Challenge Championship races.
It will feature the return of Ron Fellows to Mosport after a three-year absence. Fellows, who will fly in from the American Le Mans Series race in California, will be behind the wheel of the No. 2 CRP Racing Corvette.
It will be Fellows second start for the CRP team following his debut in Long Beach last month, when a mechanical failure knocked him out of the race after running as high as fourth.
“This is a privateer team and the owner, Nicholas Short, has done a good job,” Fellows said earlier this week. “He runs a smart operation and it has been great fun.
“These are short, intense races and the standing starts are awesome. You’ve got multi-manufacturers and that is part of the enjoyment of racing in this series.”
In Saturday’s first WC race at Mosport, Randy Probst, of Gainsville, Fla., took the checkered flag in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 beating Kuno Wittmer — Nick’s older brother — in the No. 13 Dodge Viper by 2.532 seconds.
Third place went to Californian Patrick Lindsey in the No. 57 Porsche 911.