Montreal, Canada – An impressively busy 2017 schedule awaits Raphaël Lessard, the 2016 CARS Tour champion, with 23 races on his preliminary schedule, including three in the ARCA series, the feeder series to the highest levels of NASCAR racing.


The driver of the Toyota Camry # 99 FRL Express / Team Coach Imaging / Toyota / JBL Audio will return for a second season with Gilliland Racing. Lessard will launch his 2017 season on Sunday, Jan. 29, as he participates in the traditional CRA SpeedFest in a 200-lap race at Watermelon Capital Speedway, Georgia. Unlike in 2016, and in line with the game plan established by his agent Robert Desrosiers, David Gilliland Racing and Toyota TRD, Raphaël will not race in only one championship in 2017 but in 5 different series, namely the CRA, CARS, PASS, SSS and ARCA series.


The highlight of his schedule is Toyota’s invitation to Raphaël, a driver in the Toyota development programme, in which he is invited to participate in 3 ARCA races during the summer. Two of the three races have been confirmed, namely the Nashville ARCA 200 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on April 8 and the Winchester ARCA 200 at Winchester Speedway in Indiana on August 6. The third ARCA race will be announced shortly. For these three races, Raphaël will join the Venturini Motorsports race team, led by the one and only Billy Venturini.


With a championship in the CARS Tour series under his belt comprising 4 first places, 8 top-5 and 9 top-10, the young Beauceron was also voted “the 2016 ARBodies Most Popular Late Model Driver” in North America, as voted on over the course of the last few months by thousands of car-racing enthusiasts in the US and Canada. Lessard competed for the title against more than 600 drivers representing 21 series and 78 local tracks in Canada and the United States.


In 2017 he will partake in several series and long-distance races that will keep him busy from end of January until beginning of December 2017. “I’m very excited for the upcoming season. I will compete in several 400-lap races, aside from the three ARCA races. It will be quite the season and I thank Gilliland Racing and Toyota for their support. I can’t wait to join them again behind the wheel. A big thank you as well to Toyota for inviting me to participate in the three ARCA races – it promises to be an amazing experience,” said Raphaël Lessard.


Two other Beauce companies are also key players in Raphaël Lessard’s success, namely FRL Express from St-George-de-Beauce, his father’s transport company, without whose involvement this adventure would not have been possible, and Team Coach Imaging (Lettra Pub in Canada), from Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, a commercial vehicle identification specialist.


Raphael will be in the United States next week to attend the CARS Tour’s end-of-season banquet on January 14th; and then will take time to visit David Gilliland Racing’s new facilities in Morrisville, North Carolina, before attending meetings in preparation for the new season.


-David Gilliland Racing Press Release.  Photo Credit: photo

Lessard to Make ARCA Racing Series Debut in 2017