The #2 Renault Sport R.S. 01 crew from the ART Junior Team won on the Bugatti Circuit Le Mans in the first race of the Renault Sport Trophy held in France. Starting from pole position, the duo composed of Richard Gonda and Andrea Pizzitola led from start to finish to take the win ahead of Pieter Schothorst and Max van Splunteren (Equipe Verschuur #1). After the race the Dutch crew was disqualified because their fuel cell had less than the required three litres of fuel. Their exclusion sees the duo of David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #8) clinch the first title in the history of the Renault Sport Trophy.
In clocking the best time in qualifying for the Prestige drivers, Richard Gonda (ART Junior Team #2) won the pole for himself and team mate Andrea Pizzitola, ahead of Capitanio-Fumanelli (Oregon Team #8) and Braams-Geerts (V8 Racing #4).
Gonda decimates the competition
At the start, Richard Gonda made the most of the incident behind him to pull away. With the contact between Dario Capitanio and Niccolò Nalio (Oregon Team #6), Max van Splunteren (Equipe Verschuur #1) moved up to second place ahead of Diederik Sijthoff (V8 Racing #5), Adalberto Baptista (Oregon Team #7) and Philippe Bourgois (Zele Racing #9), all three of whom were overtaken by Dario Capitanio prior to the opening of the drive change window. In the intermediate classification, Richard Gonda had an almost ten second lead from Max van Splunteren and was 26 seconds ahead of Dario Capitanio. Diederik Sijthoff and Philippe Bourgois followed. They were followed by Antoine Boulay (Monlau Competicion), Adalberto Baptista, Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #10), Niccolò Nalio and Max Braams.
Pizzitola controls Pieter Schothorst
The first duo to stop, Richard Gonda handed over to Andrea Pizzitola. The positions remained the same after the driver change window closed, but Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #1) progressively cut into Andrea Pizzitola’s lead. The Frenchman resisted and kept everything in control to go on for the win ahead of the Dutchman, excluded post-race. David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #8) was then promoted to second ahead of Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing #5) and Steijn Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #10), who overtook Christian Klien (Zele Racing #9) and Alan Hellmeister (Oregon Team #7). After they both got by Luciano Bacheta (Oregon Team #6), ninth place, Roy Geerts (V8 Racing #4) and Bas Schothorst (Zele Racing #11) finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Richard Gonda: “The entire race was good. Qualifying was very difficult and tricky due to a red flag and traffic, but we were able to get the pole. It was very important, as much so in Endurance as in Prestige. I knew that I had to attack to create a nice lead from which I could control the race. Unfortunately, at the end of the race, the car wasn’t as easy to drive, but Andrea managed to take the victory!”
Andrea Pizzitola: “This victory was very important to maintain our motivation. Richard did an excellent job in avoiding all possible problems and built a nice lead. Unfortunately, we had a few brake problems and it took me some time to find a solution that allowed me to control the guy behind me and to stay ahead all the way to the end.”
Provisional General Classification Endurance* : 1. Fumanelli/Capitanio – 97 points, 2. Pizzitola/Gonda – 70, 3. Bacheta/Nalio – 57, 4. Geerts/Braams – 49, 5. Dontje/Forné – 43…
Provisional General Classification Endurance* : 1. S. Schothorst – 105 points, 2. A. Pizzitola – 95, 3. D. Fumanelli – 60, 4. I. Dontje – 56, 5. R. Geerts – 49…
Provisional General Classification Prestige*: 1. D. Capitanio – 112 points, 2. D. Sijthoff – 95, 3. N. Nalio – 90, 4. R. Gonda – 87, 5. M. Braams – 73…
*Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications.