With the Christmas and New Year festivities over, Trophée Andros action resumed this weekend at Isola 2000, in the south of France. The first race saw Alain Prost finish on the podium to defend his position at the top of the standings. The Dacia Lodgy Glace driver is now equal on points with his arch-rival Jean-Philippe Dayraut. Nicolas Prost, who is contesting the French ice-racing series for the first time, is improving all the time and stands out as a potential winner, as demonstrated by his second place in the second race!
With a programme of four rounds in just one month, the second half of the 2011/2012 Trophée Andros promises to be a busy, action-packed affair. To prepare for the hectic weeks ahead, Team Dacia took time to organise a test at Val Thorens shortly after New Year’s Day. “It was important for me to get in some testing,” said Nicolas Prost. “At races, the pressure makes it difficult to try different solutions, but our test did my confidence a whole lot of good.”
Upon their arrival at Isola 2000 on Friday, the drivers were greeted by a nice layer of snow, and the first day was given over to free practice and the first qualifying session. Instead of targeting quick lap times, the three Dacia drivers profited from the opportunity to bed in their tyres for Q2.
On Saturday morning, patches of bare asphalt could be seen through the snow. A strong run saw Alain Prost post the second fastest time, just ahead of Nicolas! The two sessions ended with the former F1 champ in third spot, two places clear of his son. Evens Stievenart had trouble with his tyres and couldn’t manage any higher than 15th.
At the start of the first finale, the two Dacia Lodgy Glace drivers tucked in behind Benjamin Rivière who went on to the take the win. Alain Prost was second across the line to collect third place in the heat, which harvested the same number of points as Jean-Philippe Dayraut. “As a result of my win at L’Alpe d’Huez, I was carrying 60kg of ballast, so it was probably the best result I could have hoped for,” mused the Dacia driver. “The rest of the weekend promises to be quite difficult because my tyres have suffered. It won’t be easy to win the second race…”
After securing fifth place in Race 1, Nicolas Prost was feeling more optimistic: “Of the three Team Dacia drivers, I think I’m the best off in terms of tyres. I did what I could to spare them and I think they are in a good enough state to allow me to have a go this afternoon.” Indeed, the driver of the N°6 Dacia Lodgy Glace was in competitive form, and was fourth in the first run despite a couple of errors: “My second lap was a mess. I dropped more than two seconds. Had it not been for that, I’m sure I would have posted the best time. Thankfully, my tyres are still in sufficiently good condition for me to be able to improve in Q2.”
The second session effectively saw Nicolas put in a perfect run, but his total time was equalled by that of Benjamin Rivière. The win ended up going to the latter because it was he who posted the fastest lap, leaving Nicolas in second spot ahead of the finale.
Alain Prost was visibly disappointed with fifth in both sessions: “I couldn’t have gone any quicker. My tyres lost more than 80 studs on the asphalt and that made my car impossible to drive. My position isn’t too bad, but it would have been nice to have been able to challenge for a better result…”
Evens Stievenart made it into the top 10 thanks to the second session’s seventh fastest effort: “I am still struggling with my tyres. I probably didn’t succeed in adjusting my driving style sufficiently to make the most of them. Apart from that, our Lodgy was perfect, as Nicolas showed...”
Once again, the two members of the Prost family contested the same finale and enjoyed trouble-free runs. Nicolas was second to claim his first Trophée Andros podium, while sixth place for Alain saw him drop a point to Jean-Philippe Dayraut who is now equal with the four-time F1 world champion at the top of the provisional leaderboard. Eighth place for Evens Stievenart took the third Dacia driver from seventh to fifth position in the championship standings.
The fifth round of the 2011/2012 Trophée Andros will take place on January 13-14.
Alain Prost: “It’s difficult for me to be positive about the weekend. The result of the first race was pretty much what we were expecting, but I didn’t think I would suffer so much in the second one. That said, it wasn’t a catastrophic weekend, since Jean-Philippe only scored one point more than me. Thanks to his two wins, Benjamin Rivière has also emerged as a potential title winner. He doesn’t get much coverage but he put in a perfect weekend here and I think the title chase will be fought out between the three of us, plus maybe half a dozen other challenges, including Nicolas and Evens…”
Nicolas Prost: “After our test at Val Thorens, I felt much more confident in my driving. That helped me relax a little and that ended up paying. I’m still a little frustrated by the mistake I made in the first race because I felt I was particularly fast. I mustn’t grumble, though, because my aim here was to finish inside the top 10, and I ended up with two top-five finishes. I’m especially happy with that because both results came after a straight fight.”
Evens Stievenart: “I thought it would be a tough weekend when I saw the tyres I was allotted. I thought I would do better on the first day and I pushed hard, but my tyres went off very quickly. I ended up paying the price for that all weekend. I’ve new had two mediocre meetings in a row, so that’s a situation I will need to put right. I know my car is competitive and I intend to figure at the sharp end again at Lans-en-Vercors.”
Isola 2000, Race 1 – final positions: 1, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia). 2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman). 3, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 4, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman). 5, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 6, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia). 7, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta). 8, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio). 9, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio). 10, Nicolas Bernardi (Ford Fiesta)… 15, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace). Etc.
Isola 2000, Race 2, final positions: 1, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia). 2, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 3, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta). 4, Andréa Dubourg (Renault Clio). 5, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman). 6, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 7, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio). 8, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 9, Julien Maurin (Ford Fiesta). 10, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman). Etc.
2011/2012 Trophée Andros, provisional positions: 1, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace) and Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman), 588 points. 3, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia), 584. 4, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia), 564. 5, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 533. 6, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio III), 527. 7, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia), 525. 8, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta RS), 525. 9, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio), 520. 10, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman), 491. 11, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 479. Etc.