2017 Year in Review: Cyril Raymond
FINISH: 1st in GRC Lites points
2017 RESULTS: 12 starts, 6 wins, 9 podiums, 26 heat wins, 786 points
2016 RESULTS: Did not compete in GRC Lites
THE GOOD: Highly regarded coming into the year (and for good reason, as the defending European Lites champion), Raymond took what was initially a close championship battle and put it well out of reach by the start of fall. His record-tying ninth podium of the year in Seattle enabled the talented young Frenchman to clinch the GRC Lites championship a race early.
He may have been born in May, but it was June when Raymond did his best work. In the back-to-back New England and Ottawa doubleheaders, he swept all four finals, won all four semifinals, and added six of eight heat wins. Of the 296 possible points he could’ve scored, he only left three on the table—perhaps the biggest difference in his championship charge.
THE BAD: Up until Los Angeles, only two rounds of Raymond’s season produced truly disappointing points hauls. The first, Louisville, saw him clip a curb at the wrong angle on the final lap, rolling his Olsbergs MSE X Forces ride onto its roof; the second, Atlantic City, saw a last lap mechanical failure. In both races, Raymond was running second when misfortune occurred.
The finale, however, was a different story. Trouble in the initial start of the final disabled his car, and despite regaining his front row starting spot for the restart, he could no longer race competitively in the last 10 laps of the year. It didn’t affect his title win, but it did allow Christian Brooks to cut Raymond’s margin of victory down to 96 points from a triple-digit advantage.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “It was my first year in GRC, and I was really surprised about the competition here—it’s very different. In Europe, the Joker is longer and it’s a different strategy, so your driving style has to be different here. I was a little bit afraid about the jump; it’s not like that in Europe, where it’s not a big jump at all. You have to do special things when you go on the jump.
“But it’s more fun here, and there’s more attack on the track. You have to protect your position all the time, and manage your tires also. There’s more speed in the corner. It’s very hard stuff but I like it. It’s very intense to drive here, and I’m happy to win this championship.”
2018 PROGNOSIS: Raymond will be a Supercar driver somewhere next year, without a doubt. Chances are, he’ll be an immediate championship contender in the top class.
Photo credit: Louis Yio (1); Jason Zindroski (2)