For the first time in Canadian racing history, a female driver has clinched a class title in Canadian road racing.
When Quebec’s Valérie Limoges and her Nissan Sentra car #220 crossed the finish line in third at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in the final 40-minute race of the 2022 Nissan Sentra Cup, the 42 points she earned were enough to secure top spot on the season podium. She netted a total of 482 points, eclipsing the second place driver and race winner, Simon Charbonneau, by just three points while third spot on the podium was secured by Alexandre Fortin, with 417 points. That’s a step up to the podium for Limoges, Charbonneau and Fortin who finished sixth, eighth and fourth, respectively, in 2021.
After the race, Limoges was understated, yet proud.
“It’s never easy to win a championship,” she said. “So we were really happy with what we did this year. The 12 races were pretty consistent and strong.” She finished no lower than eighth in any races throughout the season, that one low finish coming at Circuit Trois Rivières.
She acknowledged that the fact she holds that “first female winner” title is an important one, but it wasn’t the be all, end all.
“It’s pretty big,” she said. “But I didn’t think about it this way because when you race, you always want to win. I don’t look at myself like ‘oh, I’m the only girl doing the series’.
“But there aren’t a lot of women – well, none – that have done it yet, so it was nice to be the first one.”
The Sentra Cup is contested from May to September on tracks across Quebec and Ontario. Each vehicle entered gets the same power, weight, tires and componentry, with the main differences being the changes a team might make to the suspension or camber angle. That makes for some close white-knuckle racing across a level playing field, with plenty of contact and photo finishes.
Also on the track throughout the year is the Micra division – same spec-racing idea, but with the smaller and discontinued Micra hatch – and it also featured a woman on the championship podium in Marie Soleil-Labelle, who finished second. The Micra division was won this year by Raphaël St-Pierre, with Max Poirier in third.