After a spectacular 2016 Nissan Micra Cup season that crowned its winner at the very last event of the season, Quebec driver Xavier Coupal saw his efforts rewarded with the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy, one of the most prestigious annual awards in the world of Quebec motorsports.
Xavier Coupal joined the Nissan Micra Cup in 2016 and was immediately recognized as a top contender. On the track, he was consistently among the other drivers vying for each victory, as well as the overall championship title. By the end of an eight-round (sixteen-race) season held on tracks in Quebec and Ontario, the driver from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec) finished on top of the podium nine times, which is more than one win for every two races. His victories took place on the circuits at Calabogie (one win), Mont-Tremblant (five wins), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (two wins) and during the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (one win).
“I did not expect this. It’s the cherry on top after an incredible season in the Nissan Micra Cup,” said Xavier Coupal, winner of the 2016 Championship. “This series allowed me to return to motorsport after an almost two-year absence and, after a tight championship battle, I came away with the title and this prestigious Gilles Villeneuve Trophy. There are many Quebec drivers who have done extremely well in 2016; to be selected is a very special feeling.”
Coupal is one of two drivers in the 25 year history of the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy to receive this award twice. The first time he was awarded the trophy was in 2011, when he was honoured as a driver for the Canadian team in the Formula 1600 World Openwheel Championship in England. This year, Xavier was awarded the trophy during the banquet at the Gilles Villeneuve Museum held at Montreal’s Loews Hotel on Tuesday, October 25th.
“I am thrilled for Xavier,” said Jacques Deshaies, promoter of the Nissan Micra Cup. “I am also so happy to see that those at the highest level of Quebec motorsport recognize and honour the amazing talent in our series, for the second consecutive year. In addition to offering new and experienced Canadian motorsport fans a cost-effective one-type series that is fun and professionally organized, the Nissan Micra Cup showcases the immense talent among Quebec and Canadian drivers. In only two years, the series has proven to cultivate new talent, which represents the future of Canadian motorsport. I couldn’t be happier and I give my biggest congratulations to our champion.”
“For Nissan Canada, it’s a huge honour that a Nissan Micra Cup driver has won the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy for the second consecutive year,” said Joni Paiva, president of Nissan Canada Inc. “We are very proud to see the award that carries the name of Canada’s most celebrated driver of all time, being given to the Nissan Micra Cup champion. After Olivier Bédard, the first winner in the history of the series in 2015, it is extremely significant for Nissan Canada to see Xavier Coupal receive the same award.”
Created in 1982, the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy is awarded by Auto Sport Québec (Quebec’s representative of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and symbolizes a Quebec driver’s perseverance and racing excellence. Gilles Villeneuve, who was born in Chambly in 1950 and deceased on May 8, 1982, encouraged the public’s interest and love of motorsport like no other. His charisma and aggressiveness on the track made him a legend around the world, and not just with Formula One fans.
Each year, a committee of experts (drivers, journalists and celebrities) select the recipient of the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy. The 2016 winner, Xavier Coupal, follows in the footsteps of many drivers who have made history in Canadian motorsport including Patrick Carpentier (1994), Alexandre Tagliani (1996), Andrew Ranger (2002) and, of course, Olivier Bédard in 2015.
The Nissan Micra Cup will return to the tracks again next year. Officials are currently finalizing the calendar of events, which will be announced during the winter.
Visit the series’ Facebook page Nissan Micra Cup for news and updates or go to the series’ official website at: www.nissan.ca/micracup.
Past Winners of the Gilles Villeneuve Trophy
1982 : Serge Beaudin 1998 : Bruno St-Jacques
1983 : François Cloutier 1999 : Christopher Green
1984 : Patrick Robitaille 2000 : Philippe Gélinas
1985 : Gary Werve 2001 : Louis-Philippe Dumoulin
1986 : Alan Labrosse 2002 : Andrew Ranger
1987 : Jeff Girard 2007 : Kevin Lacroix
1988 : Patrick Lacasse 2008 : Pierre-Luc Ouellette
1989 : Robert Boyer 2009 : Nick Wittmer
1990 : Martin Guimont 2010 : Olivier Bonnet
1991 : Greg Pootmans 2011 : Xavier Coupal
1992 : Mark Craig 2012 : Nathalie Richard & Antoine L’Estage
1993 : Jean-François Lussier 2013 : Karl Wittmer
1994 : Patrick Carpentier 2014 : Louis-Philippe Dumoulin
1995 : Martin Roy 2015 : Olivier Bédard
1996 : Alexandre Tagliani 2016 : Xavier Coupal
1997 : Marc-Antoine Camirand