Raphaël Lessard let out a big sigh of relief when he learned from his parents on Thursday evening that an agreement with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) would be ratified shortly. This move will allow Lessard to continue his stock car career in the United States in 2018 with a prestigious team, thanks to the continued support of Toyota TRD, who have taken the young Canadian under their wing since 2015. Between 19-20 races in Super Late Model will be on Raphaël’s calendar beginning in late January. Details of his participation in other series will be finalized in the coming month with reason to believe there will be good news on this front as well.
Kyle Busch Motorsports is owned by the NASCAR Monster Energy series driver who won the championship in 2015. KBM was established in 2010 and already holds numerous records in various NASCAR series. Busch’s reputation for developing winners is well known. Lessard will join several other drivers slightly older than himself and against whom he has run for the past two years. Raphaël will also meet with Kyle Busch, who just won the Snowball Derby in which the young Beauceron participated.
"This is fantastic news, it's definitely the best Christmas present I could have hoped for," exclaimed Raphaël. "I thank my parents, Jack Irving and Toyota TRD, sponsors and our investors group. Without them none of this would be possible. My parents are making so many sacrifices for me. In addition to saying thank you to them, I think I will have to go shopping with my sisters and find two gifts that will make them happy. "
This announcement does not end the search for sponsors or investors to join the "Raphaël Lessard" sponsorship group. The limited partnership aims to help in the financial effort required to complete both the team’s and Raphaël’s budget.
"We welcomed several investors into the limited partnership in 2017 and our search for others continues. These financial contributions from companies and individuals in the Quebec City and Beauce regions are essential to Raphaël’s career development as well as his participation in the cutting-edge Kyle Busch Motorsports team," said Robert Desrosiers.
Recruited by Toyota in 2016 to join their driver development program (TRD), Raphaël Lessard has impressed many since his arrival on US ovals in 2015. In 2016 he earned the CARS Tour title in the Super Late Model category with four wins and nine top-10 finishes in 10 races. The 2017 season was a bit more trying for Raphael and an expected part of the development plan established by Desrosiers and the Toyota bosses. Lessard was not limited to the CARS Tour in 2017 but also participated in several 200, 300 and 400 lap races in other series. Of the 17 races he completed, the 16-year-old from St-Joseph-de-Beauce finished in the top-10 fifteen times and scored seven top-five finishes, four of which resulted in podiums. Impressive results considering he fact that he also had six DNF’s for technical issues.
Raphaël will kick off the 2018 season on January 28 when he competes in the ARCA / CRA Super Series Speedfest 200 at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia. Raphaël Lessard's full schedule will be announced in early January.