Raphaël Lessard finished in 8th position -- out of 30 drivers, at the 52nd Edition of the Governor’s Cup on Sunday at the New Smyrna Speedway. Ty Majeski, the winner of the previous two editions, made it 3 in row. The St-Joseph-de-Beauce native was 7th on the grid at the beginning of the 200-lap race. Lessard now has only one more race left on his 2017 schedule.
Raphaël had an unfortunate start behind the wheel of his Toyota Camry #99 FRL Express/Toyota-TRD/JBL Audio prepared by David Gilliland Racing when he got stuck in traffic on the interior line of the track, provoking a loss of several positions within the first few laps.
Despite strong performances during his practice runs and in qualification, the first 119 laps proved to be challenging for the young driver. “Let’s just say that our start did not leave us in a good position for the rest of the race. The car was not up to my taste and I had a hard time finding a good racing line. I tried the exterior of the oval, then the middle, and then the bottom of the track but nothing was working,” explained the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) driver.
The race had five caution flags, one of which was at the 119th lap for what is called a 'competition caution' during which drivers could come down pit row. During Raphaël’s stop, his crew changed all four tires, put fuel in the car and made some adjustments. After this stop, only one other caution flag came out.
Unfortunately, the adjustments didn’t solve the issues for Raphaël. “I lost some positions during the restart, but an accident between competitors in front of me allowed me to gain a few positions. I did everything to gain as many positions as I could during the remaining laps. I would like to thank David Gilliland himself, who was there for the race, Toyota, FRL Express, JBL Audio, my parents and my family for their continued support.”
Raphaël’s next and last race of the season will be at the 5 Flags Speedway for the prestigious Snowball Derby on December 3rd in Pensacola, Florida. Last year, Raphaël finished 10th in what was an intense battle. “This year we will try to improve last year’s result by 10 positions! The team will work hard to provide a great car and we will end this season on a good note.”