Preview of the 2018 Canadian Nissan Micra Cup
The petite and buzzing Micra Cup cars will soon be back in action on the Canadian road circuits. Who will win this year’s title?
The Micra Cup is a showroom stock, spec series that features identically prepared 1.6-litre Nissan Micras that are raced on Eastern Canada’s road courses.
Each Micra competing in the Cup has been prepared by the MIA (Motorsports in Action) team in St-Eustache. Everything inside the Nissan has been removed: seats, floor, door panels, steering wheel, etc., to install the racing features and transform it into the race-ready competition vehicle.
As part of a three-year agreement, Mobil 1 Racing and Pirelli are joint series title sponsors, as the official oil distributer and tire supplier, respectively.
The Cup was launched in 2015 with Olivier Bédard, a former karting champion, taking the first title. Xavier Coupal, who contested a few races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, won the 2016 Cup while Bédard retook the crown last year after a hard fought battle against the same Coupal.
For this fourth season, several competitors have switched teams, and cars, and they all enjoyed a (windy) day of testing at the ICAR Circuit in Mirabel, Québec to get used to their new mounts.
“I’m relishing the fact of battling for a third title in the Cup,” Olivier Bédard told Motorsport.com. “I am part of a new team with Solid Xperts, and we have a brand new car which runs very well.
“Our new car is a big improvement from the one of last year. It will be a very good season. I think. My teammates are Alex and Michael Habrich. I worked with them last year, coaching Michael who was new in the Cup. Several drivers have changed teams and cars, so we’ll see who will be in the leading pack at the first race. We may see a few surprises, maybe not, we’ll see.”
Bédard, who also raced Formula 1600 single seaters for a few years, knows that consistency pays off.
“In 2016, we had 16 rounds and each competitor had to discard his two worst results,” said Bédard. “This went against me, as I am a very consistent driver. When the series returned to counting every point, I found it better. This year, there’s only six meetings and 12 rounds, so consistency will be crucial.”
Kevin King finished third in the Cup last year with two wins and returns to the spec series this season, but with a different car.
“Unfortunately, I have a lower budget this year. I would say there’s a 75% chance that I run the entire season,” King told Motorsport.com. “I am still looking to find more sponsors. Nissan Sorel-Tracy has decided to leave the series, so I lost their support and sponsorship. Tires are very expensive, and that’s why I need some more sponsors. I am renting Marc-Antoine Cardin’s car from last year, which is prepared by Speed & Sport.”
Valérie Limoges, who ranked fourth last year with five podiums will be looking to win her first Micra race.
“I think I’ve always had chances of winning races, and we’ll see what happens this year with drivers switching teams,” said Limoges, a former shifter kart champion. “I have a very good car and I’m really well prepared. Last year, I totally ruined one weekend - that was two races out of the window - so I lost all chances at the title. The Cup is extremely competitive, and you cannot afford to have one bad weekend. My new teammate is Kevin King [at Speed & Sport]. We already worked together last year, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Other drivers to watch for this season include Jake Exton (last year's Rookie of the Year), Austin Riley, Frédéric Bernier, Nicolas Touchette, Vincent Doyle, Fadi Mourad, Pierre Clavet and Perry Wener.
Jacques Deshaies, the Promoter of the Cup, told Motorsport.com that the opening race of the year, to be held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, should see a full grid of Micras.
“We should start the season with 20 something cars,” he added. “If my expectations are correct, we should have 28 or 29 cars on the grid at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières in August. That’s a major meeting with several thousands of spectators, a lot of medias and TV, and with Nissan Canada organizing big PR and marketing activities during that weekend.
“We’ll begin the season with a major event in Ontario [the Victoria Day Speedfest]. The racers from this province who compete in the Cup are very loyal and very supportive of the series. Also returning is 2017 Senior Class champion, Normand Boyer and two newcomers in Marc Héroux - two-time Quebec Super Production Challenge champion - and American Mike Ogren, a Design Engineer and Project Manager at Nissan Motor Corporation who got very interested in the Cup last year. He purchased Method Topolnik’s car and he intends to run the entire season. That will be his first experience behind the wheel of a race car.”
A spec series like the Micra Cup should be featured at the Toronto Indy or at the F1 Canadian Grand Prix. Would it be the case in the near future?
“We are still in discussions with the Toronto Indy. They are open to see us race there next year,” Deshaies said. “The Canadian F1 Grand Prix recently came back to us in regards to featuring the Micra Cup at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit next year.
“Let’s face it, the country (Canada) is gradually is losing it’s road courses. What’s left? Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario and Mont-Tremblant in Québec, basically. I’m devoting energy in trying to stage an event in the region of Québec City. In the ‘70s, there used to be the Grand Prix of Québec for Formula Atlantic cars. Having a race there for the Canadian road racing series would please the fans and would get us in touch with new potential competitors.”
2018 Nissan Micra Cup schedule
|May 28-20||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario||Victoria Day SpeedFest|
|June 2-3||Calabogie Motorsport Park, Calabogie, Ontario||Kyle Nash Race|
|July 27-29||Mont-Tremblant circuit, Mont-Tremblant, Québec||Summer Classic|
|August 10-12||Circuit de Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Québec||Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières|
|August 24-26||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario||NASCAR Truck event|
|September 21-23||Mont-Tremblant circuit, Mont-Tremblant, Québec||Fall Classic|
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