Gibbons goes Ford

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

BOWMANVILLE -- Two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Peter Gibbons will do just about anything for a third ring -- even it means driving a Ford.

Gibbons, a fixture on the Canadian stock car racing circuit driving the No. 1 Canadian Tire Chevrolet Impala SS for his entire 15-year career, was at Mosport International Raceway's four-kilometre road course yesterday testing a new Ford Fusion on the opening afternoon of that track's Victoria Day Speedfest weekend.

With no markings and painted primer grey, the new Ford looked like a fox in the chicken coop beside Gibbons' 18-wheel transporter with the huge familiar yellow No. 1 Chevrolet painted on its side.

Yesterday, however, Gibbons said that his loyalty to Chevrolet has come at a high price since NASCAR took over ownership of Canada's top stock car racing series.

"We had to do something," Gibbons said. "NASCAR changed the rules for our (Chevy) motors and we just fell way behind. The changes they made put us down on horsepower."

That difference was felt most sharply on the four road courses -- Mosport, Edmonton, Montreal and Trois Rivieres -- where Fords ran away with wins in three of four in 2007.

And it's not like Gibbons is a stranger to Victory Lane on road courses having notched wins at Mosport, Edmonton and Trois Rivieres in his career.

"It got my attention on the road courses last season," he said. "The Fords had a huge advantage and we kept blowing motors trying to keep up."

COULDN'T KEEP UP

Gibbons isn't abandoning his Chevrolet roots all together.

He said yesterday that he'll drive the new Ford only at the four road courses and will be in the Chevrolet for the nine oval races.

Meanwhile, Canadian race fans will get their first look at the VW Jetta TDI racing series today as 30 cars run qualifying laps in preparation for tomorrow's TDI Cup race at Mosport.

The identically prepared Jettas will be piloted by some of the best young racers in North America including four Canadians: Chris Holman, Adam Kretschmer, Andrew Cordeiro -- all from Ontario -- and David Richert of Manitoba.

Volkswagen of America boss Stefan Jacoby hopes that the series also brings an awareness of how his company is paying attention to carbon emissions in an era of environmental sensitivity.

"Not only will the young drivers gain real-life track experience in a factory-prepared race vehicle, it will allow them to develop their own mindset of today's clean diesel technology, and foster increased awareness of its advantages," he said.

Also on the track today will be qualifying rounds for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, the Sundown Grand Prix and the first race of the season for the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship.


Videos

Photos