May 2017 - BOMANVILE, ONTARIO – Nathan Blok, the 23-year old, Canadian Formula 2000 Champion and two-time Formula Tour Series Champion switched gears to return to the Canadian Touring Car Championship. The two races were part of the Victoria Day Speedfest Weekend on May 19 – 21, 2017 on the fast and challenging Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Blok has limited experience on this racetrack with only two previous race weekends in much lighter race cars, one in the Formula 2000 car and the other in the IMSA Prototype Lite car. Blok is returning to the CTCC where he previously competed in two race events in 2013, but this time he will be driving the #58 BMW M235iR prepared by Sportscar Boutique of Toronto in the Super Touring Class.
The first two days of the weekend saw cloudy and cold weather. Despite having only 20 laps of seat time since last July, Blok was quick to get on pace with the top competitors in Friday's practice sessions.
Qualifying took place in the early morning on Saturday, in cool, cloudy and windy conditions. Blok was set to take P2 when on the last lap his teammate Jeff Kingsley nodged it away from him by crossing the line 6 hundreds of a second faster.
Saturday’s CTCC feature race saw similar weather conditions at the drop of the green flag. Blok moved ahead one position going into the first turn but #16 Jeff Kinglsey retook the spot in turn two. Turn 5 at the hairpin brought him some bad luck when the traction control turned on, and he was unable to turn it off. The system would cut the power available when he needed it the most, leaving him with limited capabilities to defend his position.
Hitting speeds upwards of 225 km per hour, the faster GT Sport Class #74 Glen Chaplin overtook Blok on the back straight, but on under braking going into turn 3 on Lap 2, Blok re-took the spot. With the faster straight line speed, #74 again pulled ahead on the back straight.
On Turn 5 of Lap 3 Blok overtook him again, only to be passed on the back straight. This back and forth interaction allowed the rest of the Super Touring Class to catch up, and for the next seven laps Blok was forced to defend his 3rd place position with limited power capabilities.
On Lap 11 Jerimy Daniel #10 passed him going into Turn 1 and then Jean-Fracois Hevey #12 got past him on the exit putting Blok down to 5th place. Lap 12 saw Daniel go wide on turn 8 loosing the position to Hevey, with Blok right on his back bumper going into Turn 1 on Lap 13. Under braking Blok passed Daniel in Turn 3 but was re-passed in Turn 4.
On Lap 19 a full course caution came out as a result of a stopped car on Turn one, which allowed Nathan time to re-set the traction control, and with full power his eyes were now set on catching the leading group and securing a podium finish. However, this was not to be as the safety car picked up the front running GT Sport Class Ferrari who was in front of Blok and Nathalie Henault #20. Although the top 3 Super Touring Class cars had been waived past the safety car, Blok, Henault and the other Super Touring Class cars were not. This meant that when the track went green on Lap 21 Blok was a minute and 35 seconds behind 3rd place leaving it an impossible task with only 6 laps left in the race.
On the restart, Henault overtook Blok going into turn 1, but on the outside of Turn 8 he retook 4th place position, which he maintained until the checkered flag.
On Sunday morning Blok qualified in P2 for the second CTCC race of the weekend under intermittent rain and cold conditions.
Although it rained on and off all day, around 3 pm a major rain system came through, with very heavy rain. The Pirelli World Challenge race which was to run just before the CTCC event was cancelled due to the rain. But when the rain eased up slightly around 5:45 pm, the cars were called to the grid for the start of the race, with Blok starting 2nd in class, and 7th overall.
The green flag was waved and Blok immediately overtook 2 of the faster GT Sport cars before Turn 1 and then took a third GT Sport car in Turn 3. At turn 3 on Lap 2 Blok passed the #88 GT Sport car maintaining his 2nd place in class and putting him 3rd place overall.
Blok continued to pull away from the pack and at one point had over a 30 second lead over 3rd place in class. Blok crossed the finish line in 2nd place in class and missed out on 3rd place overall finish when #88 passed him on turn 8 of the last lap.
“I am very pleased to make a return to CTCC competition this year. I was able to get up to speed with the team and the car very quick without much practice and I am satisfied that I was able to be competitive straight away. I was hoping to have a better finish than 4th in Race 1, but I was able to hold my own during the on track battles. The 2nd race was my first fully wet race since 2011 and my BMW M235iR prepared by Sportscar Boutique handled beautifully and I was very excited to help bring home a podium finish on the debut weekend for the team. I would like to thank Certified Labs, Aikenheads Pharma Choice, Sunsign Graphics, Lads's Auto Recylers, Woodys MVR, H&H Construction, MacMillan Transmission and Belder Tool for partnering with me to make this weekend happen. ”