With only 2 rounds to go in the fearsome Clio Euro Series, we are left with 2 drivers who could clinch the championship after rising up and taking control among the very best. Over the course of the season, many top drivers have faltered. This has le
ft William Levesque and Ryan Callan to fight each other in the 12 Round Season, just like a boxing match. However, who will be knocked out by the end? Will it be the hard-charging French-Canadian, William Levesque, or the mercilous Englishman, Ryan Callan?
The final round takes place at the American track, Sears Point. Unlike the previous tracks in the series, this track has long fast bends mixed with blind corners, elevation changes, camber and a desert background to hide the horizon.
Recently, I caught up with the championship contenders, and William Levesque’s teammate, Chris Butcher who also has a possibility of winning the championship if either of the top two drivers suffers penalties.
First off though, I caught up with William Levesque, the championship leader.
Me: What do you think your chances are of winning your first TPS Championship?
William: If I keep driving “big picture” in mind and don’t do anything that I could regret I have to say, as likely as can be. I can’t see any reasons now to lose it, it came close at Thruxton, I fought back and now I can wrap it up.
Me: Do you think Ryan will be a strong challenger in the final round of the season?
William: I’m not sure… Maybe, maybe not… One thing is sure though, I won’t get myself in a barbarian fight that will get me in trouble, I can afford to finish behind him, but if I can get the win cleanly, I’ll go for it!
Me: In previous rounds, you and Chris Butcher have worked together to beat Ryan Callan. Do you think you can do the same at Sears Point ?
William: It’ll depend on where everybody qualifies, but Chris wants the double-win (or at least a win) so he will race me. Yes we did worked together in the past, but if it is safe for the championship to fight it out we will, there is no absolute team orders at THR, and I believe that one must deserves a win to get it.
Me: Over the course of the season, you have had many up’s and down’s, how would you rate your whole season?
William: Well, I only really had one “down” to be honest… I won 7 races out of 10 so far, in two others I had a 2nd and a 3rd place. The only dark spot is Thruxton Race 2 really, where I was unlucky and DNF’ed. If you take out that race, my season was nearly perfect, hence why I think I have no reasons of losing the championship now. I did get two penalties, one which I deserved (Poznan Race 1) and one I don’t think I should have got (Varano Race 1) but it’s how it is, and you can only look forward and do your maximum.
Afterwards I tracked down Ryan and asked him a few questions.
Me: What do you think your chances are of winning your first TPS Championship ?
Ryan: I would have to say pretty slim, Will’s 25 point gap is pretty comfortable, and will take some kind of crash or retirement to prevent him winning the overall title, especially with the THR support. If perhaps I had gained that 3rd position in the second race at Calder before the incident with Toby then I would have rated my chances much higher, but that was not to be and Will also had his misfortune earlier in the season at Thruxton, the consequences of which were worse than mine so I can’t complain.
Me: Do you think Will be able to keep his cool in the final round ?
Ryan: I don’t think there will be any problem, the results he needs to gain are very comfortable.
Me: As your teammate, Florian Strauss, will not be racing in the final round, do you think that will affect you?
Ryan: I can’t see it affecting me too much, simply because of the comfortable position Will is in. Having said that, knowing my luck, he’ll finish in the exact position needed and Flo being there would have given me the title.
Me: Have you managed to achieve your season goals? If not, explain how.
Ryan: My season goal was to win the championship, so from that point of view, no I have not achieved my season goal. The secondary goal was to win at least four races and the prospects of that are slim, so I failed there too haha. Leading so many laps and not taking more wins has hurt, but with the emergence of William Levesque as a bona fide alien, I guess I can be happy that I’ve pushed it this far, after all I have been beating Strauss, Davis and Butcher regularly and they are all proven race winners. My opening laps have been something I’ve been proud of, plus the pole lap at Thruxton.
In the Sears Point Paddock, I found Chris Butcher during a Media Session so I used the opportunity well.
Me: Are you going to be pushing for the championship in the final round or will you focus on helping your teammate, William Levesque, instead?
Chris: The only thing I can aim to do now really is take 2nd place from Ryan in the championship. William doesn’t need any help to win this now. I’ve had a string of poor results and I want to use this event to prove I’m worthy of running at the front. Certainly I can afford to push and fight harder than Ryan or William here, so I’m looking for a double win to close the gap to Ryan.
Me: You have had many incidents this season, many of which no fault of your own, do you think you would of been leading if it wasn’t for your misfortune?
Chris: I don’t think you can really say that, William generally speaking has been quicker than me at most tracks, and was just unfortunate at Thruxton when I lost the car under braking. Undoubtedly I think I would still be in the hunt at the final round if it weren’t for these incidents, but you can’t say what would have happened if I hadn’t had problems.
Me: In recent rounds, there has been a strong rivalry between THR and TPS Racing, how do you think this will affect the championship battle?
Chris: I hate saying this, but with the removal of Florian from the championship, I don’t think it will be an issue at all. We’ve already seen how the admins aren’t biased, proved in one of the TPS drivers being removed. Ryan is also on his last warning, so he has to be careful too, so we’d have to be pretty stupid to lose it now.
Me: Have you managed to complete your season goals? If not, explain how.
Chris: In my driver profile I said that I wanted to be top 3 in the championship, which seems to be pretty safe now, but given the speed I’ve shown, I’m disappointed that I’ve only taken 1 win so far compared to William’s 7.
In the Drivers Championship, Levesque has a 25 point lead ahead of Callan and with 30 points for a win; there should be all to play for.
The Constructors Championship should be THR’s first Team Championship Trophy. They have a strong lead into the final round, so strong that they will win unless they both fail to finish, Ryan wins both races and they receive a penalty.
You can go to http://results.touringproseries.com/league.php?leagueid=4&type=introduction&menu=season to check out the standings for yourselves. You can also watch the race at http://www.touringproseries.com/broadcast/ on Wednesday 25th April at 18:45pm GMT.
If you can’t wait to know how well the driver’s are doing in Practice, then you can head on over to http://www.liveracers.com/#/Views/LiveTiming/TouringProSeries/CES2%20PRACTICE.
This is an event you can’t miss !