Raphaël Lessard claims a Top 10 at first Snowball Derby
Young Canadian Raphaël Lessard, the 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour champion, had a rough but rewarding Tuesday night during the 49th Snowball Derby at the 5 Flags Speedway in Florida.
The St-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec driver came in 10th place after starting from the 31st position during the race that was postponed from Sunday to Tuesday because of the rain.
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The driver of the Camry No. 99 FRL Express/Team Coach Imaging/Toyota/JBLAudio car prepared by David Gilliland Racing almost didn’t make it to the start of the race when he didn’t qualify in the Top 30. It was during the 50-lap Last Chance race, a race providing non qualified drivers the chance to earn one of the last five spots on the grid, that Lessard proved his worth as he made it in the Top 3, granting him a spot on the starting grid of the Snowball Derby.
A hectic race
Starting from 31st place, Lessard moved up in the Top 20 in the first few laps of the race. But from the 60th lap on, yellow flags caused by many accidents set the tone of the race. Things got hectic though when the young 15-year-old driver was involved in an accident at the 95th lap. After a few repairs on the car, he was good to go and raced with the leaders, thanks to the "Lucky Dog" rule.
“At first everything went well for about 10 laps, after that, the car began to deteriorate,” said the 15-year-old driver. “After a pit stop, the team managed to make the car better. Following an accident that caused me some damage, I benefited from the Lucky Dog rule, which allowed me to return on the same lap as the leader. Throughout the race the car was good, but during a restart I had a small contact, which made the car difficult to drive, that's why I was losing ground at the end.
“Seth Smith, my crew chief and the entire David Gilliland Racing team have worked non-stop to give me a good car. Unfortunately, we had trouble finding the right settings, but these things happen in racing. I certainly would have liked to win, but I gave everything I had and I did my best. I am really happy with my season and I look forward to next year. I want to thank David Gilliland Racing, FRL Express, Team Coach Imaging, Toyota and JBL Audio for their support throughout the season. Many thanks to my agent Robert Desrosiers and to my parents who support me at every race,” Lessard declared.
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