Ukyo Sasahara (ART Junior Team) scored his first Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 victory at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The Japanese native got the better of pole winner Jake Hughes (Koiranen GP) to become the first driver from the land of the rising sun to win in the category since Kamui Kobayashi in 2005. Anthoine Hubert (Tech 1 Racing) completed the podium. Wild card entry Max Defourny (ART Junior Team) was the highest finishing rookie in ninth place. Fourth on Saturday, Louis Delétraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) conserves his lead in the general classification.
On his 21st birthday, Jake Hughes started from pole, which he inherited following the application of the penalty imposed to Ben Barnicoat (Fortec Motorsports) at Motorland Aragón. The Englishman lined up ahead of Ukyo Sasahara, Jack Aitken (Koiranen GP), Anthoine Hubert and the McLaren Young Driver Development Programme driver and Racing Steps Foundation protégé.
Sasahara when the lights went out
Ukyo Sasahara overtook Jake Hughes in the very first metres. Now in control of the race, the Japanese driver held off the field led by the Koiranen GP cars of Jake Hughes and Jack Aitken. Third at the end of the opening lap, Jack Aitken was passed by both Anthoine Hubert and Ben Barnicoat before the safety car was called into service to allow for the removal of the cars of Valentin Hasse-Clot and Henrique Chaves (AVF).
At the re-start, Ukyo Sasahara resisted the attacks of Jake Hughes, while Louis Delétraz, Matevos Isaakyan (JD Motorsport) and Ignazio D’Agosto (Manor MP Motorsport) got by Jack Aitken. The Swiss driver moved around Ben Barnicoat, as did the Russian and Italian on the following lap. In the hectic field further back, Hugo de Sadeleer (Tech 1 Racing) and Josef Zaruba (AVF) had a coming together and Simon Gachet (Tech 1 Racing) went off.
Ukyo Sasahara took the chequers ahead of Jake Hughes and Anthoine Hubert. Louis Delétraz was fourth, followed by Ignazio D’Agosto, Matevos Isaakyan, Callan O’Keeffe (Fortec Motorsports) and Thiago Vivacqua (JD Motorsport). The top rookie finisher, wild-card entry Max Defourny (ART Junior Team) and Dennis Olsen (Manor MP Motorsport) completed the top ten.
Ukyo Sasahara: “This victory signifies a lot for me. We returned from Motorland Aragón scoreless and after my success in the NEC, I wanted to win in the Eurocup. Now it is done and I am very happy, even though I had to control the start and re-start. In one sense, it helped me to stay focused. To be the second Japanese to win in the Eurocup is special. Kamui is the biggest Japanese champion of all-time and I want to follow his footsteps and make to F1 in the future.”
Jake Hughes: “We had more troubles than we thought we would. I really struggled to get going, but I was able to stay in close contact with Ukyo. We were close at the re-start. I had one or two opportunities to overtake, but he did a good job defending by braking really late.”
Anthoine Hubert: “After my successes in Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS, this victory in the Eurocup is overdue! Nevertheless, these podium results are important and they could suffice at the end of the season. In starting fourth position, it is a good result and we will be aiming for the win tomorrow to continue to collect large point tallies.”
Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications.