Fran Rueda and Tanart Sathienthirakul (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #15) won their first Endurance race in the Renault Sport Trophy. Starting from pole position at Circuit Paul Ricard, the Spaniard made the most of a puncture suffered by team mate Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9) to take the lead that his Thai partner never relinquished. They won ahead of Jeroen and Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) and Miguel Ramos and Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur #19). After this race, Fabian Schiller and Markus Palttala are tied for the points lead in Endruance as are Fran Rueda and Fabian Schiller in AM.
In qualifying, David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #5) and Fran Rueda dominated their respective sessions, with the Spaniard starting the Endurance race opposite his rivals in AM, Fabian Schiller, Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP #2), Miguel Ramos and Jelle Beelen (V8 Racing #7).
Rueda profits from Schiller’s misfortune
At the start, Fabian Schiller took the lead, but a puncture on lap six compromised the German’s race. Fran Rueda inherited the lead ahead of Fredrik Blomstedt, who got the better of Jelle Beelen and Miguel Ramos after a difficult get away.
The gap remained stable between the leaders. Further back, Jelle Beelen was given a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage by exceeding the track limits. Christophe Hamon (Duqueine Engineering #17) was promoted to third place before getting a one-position penalty as he overtook Miguel Ramos off-track.
Prior to the pit window opening, Fran Rueda scored maximum points to get on level points with Fabian Schiller in the general classification. Behind the four leading guys, Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) preceded Carmen Jorda (V8 Racing #6), Andrés Mendez (Oregon Team #4), Gilles Duqueine (Duqueine Engineering #16), Jelle Beelen and Davide Roda (Oregon Team #1).
Tanart Sathienthirakul took over from Fran Rueda in first place, followed by Raoul Owens and Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur #19), who was being dogged by Lonni Martins (Duqueine Engineering #17) and Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21), who put in two daring passing moves before stringing together a serious of fastest race laps to try to catch the leaders.
In the final laps, Raoul Owens and Nelson Panciatici (Duqueine Engineering #16) dropped off the pace. Free from any pressure, Tanart Sathienthirakul took the victory, ahead of Pieter Schothorst and Mike Verschuur, who was promoted on to the podium due to the earlier penalty handed to Lonni Martins’ mate. Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing #7) was fifth, followed by Anders Fjordbach (High Class Racing #11), David Fumanelli, Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4), Raoul Owens and Nelson Panciatici.
Fran Rueda: “I wasn’t as reactive as Fabian at the start, and he got the better of me under braking at turn one. There was nothing I could do in the following string of chicanes, but I was able to retake the lead when he had a puncture, even though he was on the racing line. I lost a few seconds and Bloomstedt closed in, but I managed the situation despite our car being one of the heaviest due to ballast.”
Tanart Sathienthirakul: “Fran left me a good advantage when we made the switch. I really had to concentrate, because the car was difficult to drive with the extra weight and used tyres. We were also able to make the most of the problems of the guys behind us to seal this victory before Pieter could catch us!”
Provisional General Classification Endurance *
1. Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 65
2. Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 65
3. Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP) 57
4. Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP) 55
5. Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur) 43
Provisional General Classification PRO *
1. Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP) 68
2. Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) 66
3. Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 63
4. David Fumanelli (Oregon Team) 53
5. Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing) 43
Provisional General Classification AM*
1. Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 93
2. Fran Rueda (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 93
3. Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP) 62
4. Andres Mendez (Oregon Team) 52
5. Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur) 46
* Results subject to confirmation following technical and sporting verifications