Markus Palttala - Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9) won the first endurance heat in the Renault Sport Trophy ever held at the Red Bull Ring. Although poleman Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) dominated the first stint, the two drivers took advantage of the pit stop window to go into the lead and win the race from Roy Geerts - Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur #19) and Tanart Sathienthirakul - Fran Rueda (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #15). This victory has put the German-Finnish duo back in first place in the overall endurance classification.
In qualifying, Fabian Schiller and Pieter Schothorst dominated their respective sessions. The latter did the first stint in the endurance race and took on his PRO rivals Markus Palttala, Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4), Roy Geerts and Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing #7).
Pieter Schothorst holds on to the lead
Schothorst held on to the lead on the first lap despite a passing attempt by Markus Palttala, which didn’t stick. Behind these two came Bruno Bonifacio and Roy Geerts while David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #5) snatched fifth.
After a hotly-contested start the gaps stabilised, and among the front-runners Bonifacio had to retire parking his car on lap 16. Lonni Martins (Duqueine Engineering #17), Nicky Pastorelli, Anders Fjordbach (High Class Racing #11) and Jordan Grogor (V8 Racing #6) were all penalised for failing to respect the track limits.
Before the refuelling window opened Schothorst was in first place followed by Palttala and Geerts. Tanart Sathienthirakul was fourth in front of Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP #3), Fumanelli, Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #1), Raoul Owens (R-ace GP #2), Duncan Huisman (V8 Racing #8) and Jordan Grogor (V8 Racing #6) and thus scored the intermediate classification points.
Fabian Schiller comes out in the lead
The driver changes reshuffled the cards. The stop of the Verschuur team’s #21 driven by the Schothorsts seemed to go on forever, and Schiller took advantage of this to emerge in front followed by Miguel Ramos and Fran Rueda. There were few changes in the positions after that, and the German took the chequered flag with more than 23 seconds in hand over his pursuers.
Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP #3) finished fourth in front of Max Braams (V8 Racing #8). At the end of the race Davide Roda (Oregon Team #1), Carmen Jorda (V8 Racing #6) and Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) overtook Jean-Marc Merlin (R-ace GP #2), who came home ninth. Due (Oregon Team #5) rounded out the top 10.
Markus Palttala: “I still feel a bit jet-lagged as I wasn’t able to see Fabian setting pole position early on in the day. Nonetheless, it was a good race for us. I tried to get past Pieter Schothorst in the first two corners, but it didn’t work and he began to pull away. I started to catch him at the end of my stint and Fabian quickly took the lead and then controlled the race. It’s been a good day even if we have to make a few twists to be in a position to win tomorrow.”
Fabian Schiller: “It wasn’t the hardest race in my career! I was able to pull away from the rest of the field fairly quickly and the gap soon stretched to twenty seconds. All I had to do was to maintain that gap, which was enough even if I were to receive a penalty for not respecting the track limits. Everything went off perfectly today, but I’m expecting tomorrow to be more difficult because of the 80 kilos of ballast. It’ll be a real challenge to stay in the lead with such a heavy car, but you never know what can happen!”
Provisional overall endurance classification*
1. M. Palttala – F. Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 65
2. K. Korjus – F. Blomstedt (R-ace GP) 55
3. R. Geerts – M. Ramos (Equipe Verschuur) 28
4. R. Owens (R-ace GP) 26
5. T. Forné (R-ace GP) 24
Provisional overall general PRO classification*
1. Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP) 60
2. Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 45
3. Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing) 43
4. Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) 41
5. David Fumanelli (Oregon Team) 38
Provisional overall general AM classification*
1. Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 75
2. Fran Rueda (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 43
3. Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP) 36
4. Andres Mendez (Oregon Team) 31
5. Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur) 31
*subject to the official confirmation of the results after scrutineering and sporting checks .