It’s the second season for the Nissan Micra Cup and although the appeal may be limited to a small number of hardcore racing enthusiasts there is more to this story than just the racing.
The Nissan Micra is one of the least expensive vehicles available for purchase in Canada, after all. Some days the Chevrolet Spark is less costly and other days it is the Micra as a price war of dollar bills ensues. But either way a base Nissan Micra can be had for $9,988 before taxes and fees and it’s not a bad car at all.
The racing series allows Nissan to promote the Micra as both a fun car to drive and a reliable and safe one at that. This year certainly has proven that Nissan makes a safe vehicle. The season-opening Micra Cup crashfest at Calabogie resulted in drivers walking away from completely trashed cars without a scratch.
But not only is the Micra safe, it is reliable. Talking to most teams at the first Quebec race of 2016 at Saint-Eustache (just north of Montreal), reliability for the most part has not been a concern with the Micra. When compared to other race cars running as many races as the teams have with their cars now in the second season, the Micra has proven more reliable.
That’s a completely stock engine and transmission, and 20 of them are on their second season with no major rebuild.
All Micra Cup cars are built by MIA (Motorsports in Action) located at the track at Saint-Eustache which proves right there that they are dedicated to track performance not street show.
A custom cage is bolted and welded into the Micra to ensure that the driver stays safe in case of an accident or rollover (and roll over they do), OMP belts, seat and steering wheel are also installed and the door panels are gutted and covered over with plastic. The cars weigh in at a reasonable 1,050 kg with the driver and fuel on board.
Also installed is an AIM MXL dash that provides data-logging, lap times, oil / water temperatures, RPM, shift lights and more – when you step into the Micra Cup car, you feel like you are in a real race car.
For their second season the Micra Cup series is making three stops in Ontario. The first stop was at Calabogie Motorsports Park near Ottawa in late May, a stop at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly known as Mosport) in July with a second visit to the same location in September. The remaining races are in the Quebec region at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Saint-Eustache and Trois-Rivières.
See the videos: Massive Crash Mars Micra Cup Opener in Ontario
Nissan graciously offered me a second chance to redeem myself in their car in a very competitive field of cars by offering me a day in the car with two races at Saint-Eustache on June 19th. When I participated last year I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised by the driving level of the competition, resulting in a poor performance where I ended up near the back of the pack for the most part.
This year I knew I could challenge myself and improve. It was a busy day with two and a half hours of track time spread out over a seven-hour day in the baking heat of the summer sun (it was 35 degrees in the shade that day). The Micra is a challenge to drive – with its low power and soft suspension it is unlike most race cars any racer would ever prepare. But the competition is on a level playing field with only setup changes and practice to separate the drivers.
After a round of qualifying I was happy with my results, 12th place out of 22 cars in a competitive field with no seat time in the car on a track I wasn’t seasoned on. I was happy, the race went well and pretty uneventful for me but exciting for sure having a close race in a pack of identical cars, in the end I finished 13th due to a very poor start, an error on my part for selecting the wrong gear and losing four positions before for the first corner. It took a lot of work to make up those positions and it was fun – a top-ten finish was possible this time but not meant to be.
The Micra cup is pretty darn fun, so much so that when I got home I was contemplating how I could get myself a seat for a season. Buy a car, find a sponsor? I don’t know how but it would be fun to compete as I now know I have the ability to be competitive, I just have to get some more seat time and focus.
Watching the Micra Cup races is also an exciting affair, with fields of over twenty identical cars battling it out in close quarters, it is some of the most exciting racing happening today and some of the best spec racing I’ve ever seen.
Check the schedule below and see for yourself what good drivers can do with a fun little runabout and spectate at one of the races near you this season. Talk to the teams and the drivers. Most everyone is approachable and excited to talk about this fun series that allows them to race in a professionally run series on a moderate budget.
Race 9 & 10 – July 23–24, Circuit Mont-Tremblant, QC, Summer Classic
Race 11 & 12 – August 13–14, Circuit Trois-Rivières, QC, Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières
Race 13 & 14 – September 3–4, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON
Race 15 & 16 – September 24–25, Circuit Mont-Tremblant QC, Autumn Classic