Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9) have won the opening race of the 2016 Renault Sport Trophy. The duo overcame a penalty to triumph at Motorland Aragón ahead of the tandems of Kevin Korjus and Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP #3) and Lewis Williamson and Tim Sugden (Strakka Racing #42). Starting from pole position, Lewis Williamson scored maximum points in the intermediate classification to take the early lead in the PRO division.
For this first round of the year, the PRO drivers’ qualifying session determined the grid order for the Endurance race. Lewis Williamson took the pole, in his return to competition, ahead of Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) and Kevin Korjus. Raoul Owens (R-ace GP #2) and Markus Palttala followed in suit on the rolling start.
Williamson scores maximum points
Despite an attempt from Kevin Korjus, Lewis Williamson led from sixth place starter Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing #7). Pieter Schothorst, Markus Palttala and Kevin Korjus followed. Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4), dropped out, while Anders Fjordbach (High Class Racing #11) failed to take the start.
The safety car was called out on lap five following contact in the battle for seventh place between Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #1) and Meindert van Buuren (V8 Racing #8). At the restart, Lewis Williamson maintained his lead and went on to finish first in the intermediate classification ahead of Nicky Pastorelli, Pieter Schothorst, Markus Palttala and Kevin Korjus.
Despite contact with Roy Geerts (Equipe Verschuur #19), Raoul Owens finished sixth and was followed by Tanart Sathienthirakul (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #15), Jordan Grogor (V8 Racing #6) and David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #5) before the opening of the pit window.
Schiller wins despite a penalty
Everything changed with the retirement of Nicky Pastorelli at half-distance. Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 was first into the pits, Markus Paltalla handed over to Fabian Schiller. While the German driver was now on point against Tim Sugden, who took over from Lewis Williamson, he was penalized 15 seconds for not respecting the mandatory minimum pit stop time.
Further back, Fredrik Blomstedt got the better of Tim Sugden, while Fran Rueda (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #15) dropped out. At the end of lap 36, Fabian Schiller took the chequers and the win with more than 20 seconds in hand from Fredrik Blomstedt, which was enough to hold on for the victory. Tim Sugden completed the podium ahead of Toni Forné (R-ace GP #2), Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21), Ash Hand (Oregon Team #5) and Carmen Jorda (V8 Racing #6).
Markus Palttala: “This is an excellent start to the season. This is the first race for the team and we won. It was somewhat difficult at the start. I picked up a position, because Kevin Korjus was a little too optimistic, but then we stayed bunched together and it was good hard clean racing. We managed to move up to third and Fabian did an excellent job despite the penalty. We made a mistake and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Fabian Schiller: “Markus had to pick up positions while also conserving the tyres. When my lead was up to eight seconds, I thought I could control everything, but then at that very moment my engineer informed me of the penalty. I pushed as much as possible, even though the rear tyres were degrading. It was hard not to make any mistakes, but we did it and I am happy.”
Lewis Williamson: “For my first rolling start, I think it wasn’t too bad! I was also a little lucky, because it would have maybe been difficult to pass on this track. We were able to run at a good pace and control the guys behind at the restart. The car handled very differently than it did in qualifying and I focused on my driving as to not make a mistake. We’ll see what tomorrow’s sprint race has to offer us.”
Provisional General Classification*
1. M. Palttala – F. Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 25
2. K. Korjus – F. Blomstedt (R-ace GP) 18
3. L. Williamson – T. Sugden (Strakka Racing) 15
4. R. Owens – T. Forné (R-ace GP) 12
5. P. Schothorst – J. Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) 10
Provisional General Classification PRO*
1. Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing) 25
2. Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing) 18
3. Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) 15
4. Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) 12
5. Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP) 10
Provisional General Classification AM*
No points scored in this race
*Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications