Lacombe (3) leads Laperle (91) across the stripe for the St-Eustache 300 victory, but Laperle beat Lacombe by just 16 points to secure the Série ACT Castrol championship (Stéphane Lazare photos)

Entering Sunday’s 13th annual St-Eustache 300 at Quebec’s Autodrome St-Eustache, Sylvain Lacombe trailed Patrick Laperle by 26 points in the season long Série ACT Castrol standings.  If the veteran driver was to have any chance at backing up his 2005 championship he was going to have to earn every point possible in the season finale at the flat 4/10ths mile oval.  Lacombe did everything humanly possible including winning the event and leading the most laps to post the maximum number of points in the feature race.  Unfortunately for the Terrebonne, Qc driver lady luck was not on his side.

Instead of changing his driving style to protect his championship point lead, Laperle, the young upstart from St-Denis, Qc did what he knows best and drove hard for the win.  After 300 laps he crossed the finish line in second place, right on Lacombe’s rear bumper. Third went to Alexandre Gingras from Quebec City.  Jean-François Déry, the 2006 championship runner-up was fourth and Jacques Laperle, Patrick’s cousin completed the top five.

With two events remaining on the 12-race schedule, Laperle commented about his chances at the title, “I learned a few years ago when I was in the battle for the ACT Tour title with Jean-Paul Cyr, that you shouldn’t change what has worked for you.  At the time I tried to protect my point lead by driving conservatively and everything started to go wrong.  After that happened, I determined if I was ever in the same situation again I wouldn’t change how I race.”

Lacombe celebrates his fifth St-Eustache 300 victory with a burnout as the sun sets over the Montréal speedway

In front of a large crowd, 29 of the 30 cars who entered the race started the main event.  Ontario racer, Robbie Thompson, hot off a top 10 finish in an ACT Tour event at Kawartha Speedway (Fraserville, ON) lost a rear-end in practice and was unable to make repairs.

Pole sitter Daniel Bergeron led the first 42 circuits but gave up the advantage to veteran and local favorite Normand Lavigueur.  Lavigueur, winner of an earlier Série ACT Castrol event at the Autodrome was unable to hold off his friend and car builder “Super” Mario Gosselin.  Gosselin, a Quebec native who now resides in Florida, has been competing in the Southern US with ARCA and other series.  He took over as the half-way mark approached.

Lacombe regained the point on lap 155 only to have Gosselin wrestle it back four laps later as the leaders scattered to avoid a spinning car in the third turn.  On a subsequent yellow flag, Gosselin and many of the other frontrunners elected to pit for tires and fuel which put Patrick Laperle on the point.  His advantage was quickly erased by Lacombe and despite several caution periods and restarts later in the race, Lacombe never relinquished the lead.

Completing the top ten finishers were Claude Leclerc, in sixth, Marc-André Cliche, André Coursol, Martin Lacombe and Éric Lehoux.

Laperle's Série ACT Castrol championship celebration included a victory lap with his team's battle flag

2007 Série ACT Castrol Champion Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, QC