Aylmer racing prodigy rewarded in Berthierville
Local speed-racing phenomenon Marie-Soleil Labelle will be behind the wheel as part of the Gilles Villeneuve racing team for the 2020 Nissan Micra Cup series.
The announcement was made during an appearance at the Gilles Villeneuve Museum (GVM) in Berthierville, on March 4, where the young Aylmerite was decked out in the same coloured racing gear as the late legend himself.
According to a press release issued on the same date, at just 16 years old, Labelle will be the youngest participant in the series.
Going from the middle of May until the end of September, the series involves six events and 12 races on various race tracks across Ontario and Quebec in 109-horsepower Nissan Micra race cars.
The release explained that the GVM intends to provide plenty of support for Labelle, mostly when it comes to promoting her and public relations.
GVM Director General Alain Bellehumeur said that bringing on Labelle as the Gilles Villeneuve racing team’s ambassador was a way of passing the torch from one era of great racers to another.
“The entire team at the VGM is happy to support Marie-Soleil,” he said in the press release. “One of the museum’s objectives is actually to be that link between generations, those who knew and who saw Gilles Villeneuve on the track, and more youngsters who heard about him. For this chapter, Marie-Soleil becomes our ambassador.”
Not long after the announcement, the teenage speedster took to Facebook to express gratitude for her accomplishment and to thank her numerous sponsors - including Claire Poirier from REMAX DIRECT - for helping her officially become the youngest rookie driver in the Canadian Nissan Micra Cup Series.
Labelle also announced that she will once again be an ambassador for Make-A-Wish Canada’s West Quebec Division.
With the upcoming season less than two months away, Labelle’s father Maxime said that step one after the announcement was made was to take a 24-hour break to decompress and replenish herself mentally for the hectic schedule ahead.
Then, it was on to Sebring, FL., where Marie-Soleil spent five days at one of the most well-reputed racing schools on the planet – the Skip Barber Racing School.
“She will be isolated,” he said. “So, she will be able to train herself well.”
Maxime added that this season is largely expected to serve as a learning curve for his daughter, noting that she will be the youngest driver in the series.
“For her, it’s an opportunity to attain a really great experience,” he said. “We’re in the ‘let’s learn’ mode’.”
“The goal is really to grow on track session after track session, race after race, weekend after weekend
Wearing the number 999, the College Saint-Joseph secondary four student’s first event of the 2020 series is scheduled to take place at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont. during the Victoria Day Weekend SpeedFest on May 15.