Third in last year’s Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship and rightly feared by the rest of the field, Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) backed up his status as one of the favourites to lift the 2012 crown by winning the season’s opening race from pole position. In an eventful curtain-raiser that ended when the red flag came out after a crash and a sudden shower, the Russian topped the podium ahead of Nyck de Vries (R-Ace GP), who claimed a surprise second in his first outing in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, and Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) in third.
While it was no real surprise to see pre-season favourite Kvyat claim his third pole in the category, De Vries proved a revelation in seizing a place alongside him on the front row.
Making the perfect start, the Russian pulled away from De Vries, Vandoorne, Norman Nato (RC Formula) and Pierre Gasly (R-Ace GP), while behind them a mass pile-up involving Oscar Tunjo (Tech 1 Racing), Nick Cassidy (Fortec Motorsports), Jordan King (Manor MP Motorsport), Johan Jokinen (Manor MP Motorsport), Pieter Schothorst (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Yu Kanamaru (KTR) gave the track marshals an early problem, though the wreckage was cleared by the end of lap one.
The leading trio of Kvyat, De Vries and Vandoorne began to pull clear of the pack, with Nato running fourth and Gasly, Paul-Loup Chatin (Tech 1 Racing) and Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) right behind him, and Javier Tarancon (RC Formula) and Miki Wekstrom (KTR) a little further back. Gasly’s race was over on lap four, however, when he was forced to stop.
While the front three maintained the pace, many a battle was being fought for the minor placings, the most compelling of which was the duel for ninth between Alex Riberas (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Guilherme Silva (Intewetten.com Racing) and Andrea Pizzitola (R-Ace GP).
The safety car was out on lap seven following a coming together between Daniel Cammish (Atech Reid GP) and Hans Villemi (Koiranen Motorsport), with Villemi’s car flipping over. The rain began to hammer down as the marshals set about clearing the track, with just a few minutes of the race remaining. The subsequent red flag cut short proceedings, leaving Kvyat the season’s first winner ahead of De Vries and Vandoorne.
What they said
Daniil Kvyat: “Obviously winning the title is my only objective. I made a good start but things got a little tricky when a few drops of rain started falling. I was the first to have problems and I had to watch my step. I hope my team-mate Hans Villemi is ok. This win is the best way to start the championship.”
Nyck de Vries: “I had my first three races in a single seater at Hockenheim in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC a few weeks ago, and I’ve kicked off with a podium finish in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, which is brilliant. I didn’t think I’d be able to match Kvyat and Vandoorne for pace in the race. Our objective is a top-ten finish this season so this is a great start. I mustn’t get carried away though.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I wasn’t that happy after qualifying this morning. Things went a bit better in the race so I’m hoping to put in a good qualifying session and win tomorrow. The key thing is to be consistent all year round. Even though Daniil Kvyat won, to get a top-three finish is a good result.”