TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec — The sting from last year’s Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières was still fresh on Marc-Antoine Camirand’s mind as he climbed into his No. 96 GM Paillé Chevrolet on Sunday.
In 2022, after leading a race-high 51 laps, Camirand saw his hopes for a Grand Prix de-Trois Rivières victory end abruptly after a late collision between L.P. Dumoulin and J.F. Dumoulin relegated him to third in the running order.
But this year, no issues hindered Camirand as he took the checkered flag in the Les 60 Tours Rousseau Metal. In his 10th start, Camirand finally earned the distinction of winning the NASCAR Pinty’s Series’ most prestigious race.
“We worked so damn hard to win that one,” Camirand said. “This is one of our biggest wins. We came here Saturday morning, and the car was really fast. The pace was really good in the beginning [of the race] and we tried to manage things [after putting in a splash of fuel]. Once I got the lead, the car was really good, and we got that win for GM Paillé.”
Although Sunday was his first triumph at Trois-Rivières, Camirand has typically had speed in each endeavor at the technical circuit.
In only his second start at GP3R in 2014, Camirand qualified on the pole but ended his long day in the 20th position on the lead lap. Camirand would duplicate that feat in 2018, which saw him lead 37 laps and tally what was then his second top-five at Trois-Rivières.
With another GP3R pole under his belt, Camirand was in front of a first-lap crash that eliminated top contenders, Kevin Lacroix along with Camirand’s teammate and four-time Trois-Rivières winner, Andrew Ranger. The crash mixed up the strategy and forced Camirand to briefly vacate the top spot for fuel.
L.P. Dumoulin, who was involved in the same crash with Ranger and Lacroix, took advantage of his circumstances with an early fuel stop that put him in front of Camirand. Dumoulin fought valiantly to maintain control but ended up surrendering the lead to Camirand on a restart shortly after the halfway mark.
Dumoulin has visited Victory Lane in Trois-Rivières twice during his NASCAR Pinty’s Series career, his most recent trip occurring in 2019. Despite nursing a car with noticeable right-rear damage, Dumoulin overcame adversity for his second race in a row with a top-five finish, which helped ease some of the frustration he shared with Camirand from last year’s race.
“We didn’t want to pit early but we had to,” Dumoulin said. “I saw right underneath [Lacroix’s] car and right away, we had a flat tire. I thought it was worse than a flat tire, but fortunately, we waited until closer to [the restart] to put the full load of fuel in. It was too early to do that, and I had to save a lot of it. All in all, it was a challenging race.”
Camirand now shares the honor of being a champion of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières with Dumoulin, joining an elite list of competitors that includes Ranger, Lacroix, Alex Tagliani, D.J. Kennington, and many others.
Camirand did not need a victory at GP3R to cement himself as one of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series greatest competitors, as he is fresh off a stellar 2022 season that saw him claim his first championship.
Despite this, breaking through at GP3R was a cathartic moment for Camirand after having previously come up short in his nine previous outings at the venue. Now that he has a win in Trois-Rivières on his resume, Camirand is eager to add to his growing legacy in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series by pursuing a second title.
“It’s going to be hard to catch [Treyten] Lapcevich,” Camirand said. “We got some points here, but Ohsweken is the next race and Treyten is going to be fast there. If we can show up, try to do our best, and stay close to Treyten, then I think we can make a good push.”
Tagliani came home in third at the end of Sunday’s Les 60 Tours Rousseau Metal, with Gary Klutt and Kennington completing the top-five.