Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition) added a fifth Clio Cup France title to go along with those won in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 in defeating rival Benoît Castagné (Raiwoit Racing) at Circuit Paul Ricard. David Pajot (Vic’Team) is this year’s Gentleman category champion and Corentin Tierce (Tierce Racing) takes top honors among the Juniors. GPA Racing wins the Teams’ Title.
For this exceptional weekend, the Clio Cup France and Spain have been grouped together, but with distinct classifications. After a rainy Friday, the track was still wet when David Pajot went quickest in the opening qualifying session with a time of 2:33.405s. In the second session on Saturday morning it was England’s James “JJ” Ross taking the pole with a lap of 2:38.980s ahead of David Pajot (GPA Racing).
RACE 1: POUGET STAYS IN THE HUNT
Saturday afternoon, the slicks made their first appearance on the starting grid. Row one starters, James “JJ” Ross and David Pouget lined up ahead of Nicolas Milan, Dorian Guldenfels (GPA Racing) and Kévin Jimenez (GPA Racing). Leader in the general classification, Benoît Castagné qualified just 11th best.
David Pouget jumped into the lead ahead of Dorian Guldenfels and Nicolas Milan, while the pole winner got caught out at turn one. Kévin Jimenez was next before falling in behind Benjamin Mosson (GPA Racing), Guillaume Savoldelli (TB2S) and Marc De Fulgencio (Team VRT) on lap two. Further back, Benoît Castagné got past Kevin Jimenez and Alex Royo at the inside of the double-left hand Beausset corner!
On lap four, Dorian Guldenfels took the lead from David Pouget, who then returned the favour. The two GPA Racing drivers tried to use the draft to pull away from a field animated by the comeback drives of Pierre-Étienne Chaumat (TB2S), Yoann Baziret (Setup Racing) and Thibaut Bossy (TB2S).
Following two more leader changes, David Pouget went on for the win ahead of Dorian Guldenfels. While the race winner remained in title contention, it was not the case of his young team mate, while Nicolas Milan completed the podium.
After climbing up to fourth, Benoît Castagné was surprised late in the race by Pierre-Étienne Chaumat – who started ninth on the grid – and Spain’s Marc De Fulgencio, who was not eligible to score points in the French championship. Sixth in his Clio Cup France debut, Benjamin Mosson preceded Savoldelli, Thibaut Bossy, Kévin Jimenez and Mathieu Lannepoudenx (Milan Compétition) following the retirement of Yoann Baziret just a few kilometres from the chequered flag.
Unmatched in the Gentlemen category, David Pajot set the fastest lap in the race to take the title by finishing ahead of Mickaël Carrée (T2CM) and Stéphane Auriacombe (Tierce Racing). In the Junior ranks, Edwin Traynard was overtaken by Pierre and Corentin Tierce (Tierce Racing) on lap four, but the penalties handed to the twins allowed the Autosport GP driver to go on to take his first class win of the season
RACE 2: MILAN DÉCISIVE!
On Sunday, David Pajot started from pole ahead of Pierre-Étienne Chaumat, Thibaut Bossy and Guillaume Savoldelli. Title contenders Benoît Castagné and Nicolas Milan shared row three, while David Pouget lined-up 16th.
While the pole winner maintained his advantage, Thibaut Bossy later took the lead at the chicane. Pierre-Étienne Chaumat tried to follow, but Benoît Castagné made the most of the smallest opportunity to move up to second place before Chaumat did the same on lap three. Meanwhile, the general classification leader was under threat from Nicolas Milan.
After a first attempt at turn one, then a second at the chicane, the native of Agen finally made his past at Signes. Benoît Castagné counter-attacked aggressively on the next lap and Dorian Guldenfels took advantage to slot in between the two!
Meanwhile, Pierre-Étienne Chaumat got the better of Thibault Bossy. Behind them, Dorian Guldenfels, Nicolas Milan and David Pouget all got past Benoît Castagné and set off after the duo at the sharp end of the order.
Determined to take the win, Dorian Guldenfels first took care of Thibaut Bossy then Pierre-Étienne Chaumat to go on for the victory ahead of the two TB2S drivers. Nicolas Milan finished fourth in front of David Pouget and Benoît Castagné, which was good enough to see him take his fifth title in the category!
Among the Juniors, Edwin Traynard lined-up ahead of Corentin Tierce on the grid, but he lost big time between his two installation laps. Starting from pit lane, he made his way back to second between Edwin Traynard and Adeline Prudent (Prudent Compétition) to take the title for just three points!
With the Gentleman title already sewn up, David Pajot was given a drive-through penalty after jumping the start. As he didn’t serve the penalty in the allotted time, he was shown the black flag. Mickaël Carrée, Stéphane Auriacombe and Emmanuel Raffin (Autosport GP) were the podium finishers in this last race of the season.