At the conclusion of a spectacular race at Circuit Paul Ricard, Max Defourny (R-ace GP) has taken his second success in the Formula Renault Eurocup, 16 months after the first ! The Belgian driver inherited the win after a last lap incident between Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) and pole winner Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Unscathed after flipping, Sacha Fenestraz still leads in the general classification ahead of Will Palmer (R-ace GP).
Fenestraz takes the pole
This morning, Robert Shwartzman was quickest in the first qualifying group with a time of 2:04.946 ahead of rookie wild card Charles Milesi (R-ace GP). In the second group it was Sacha Fenestraz setting best time in 2:04.570 to take his fifth pole position of the season.
This second qualifying session determined the start order for race one of the weekend, Sacha Fenestraz lined up ahead of Robert Shwartzman, Max Defourny, wildcard Charles Milesi and Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing).
The tension ratchets up a notch
When the lights went out, Robert Shwartzman moved alongside but could not get past Sacha Fenestraz. Max Defourny made the most of the situation to split the two, while the order behind saw several changes. Yifei Ye was up to fourth ahead of Will Palmer and Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport).
On lap four, Robert Shwartzman moved past Max Defourny for second place at the end of a fantastic battle. The Russian closed the gap to Sacha Fenestraz ahead of an unbridled field. Contact between Julia Pankiewicz (Mark Burdett Motorsport) and Najiy Ayyad bin abd Razak (Fortec Motorsports) brought out the safety car on lap ten.
The race was resumed on the last lap. Robert Shwartzman looked to the inside of Sacha Fenestaz at the chicane. The Frenchman was sent into the air and finished the race upside down. While the Russian was the first to cross the finish, he was classified in 23rd position following the application of his drive-through that was converted into a 25-second penalty.
Max Defourny took the win, followed by Yifei Ye and Will Palmer. Red Bull Junior Team and Renault Sport Academy drivers Richard Verschoor and Max Fewtrell (Tech 1 Racing) were promoted to fourth and fifth ahead of Charles Milesi, Neil Verhagen (MP Motorsport), Alexander Vartanyan (JD Motorsport), Thomas Randle (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Zane Goddard (Arden Motorsport). Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) inherited the final point on offer.
Max Defourny (R-ace GP) : “It was a very eventful race ! Following a good start, everything was fine in the opening laps and I pressured Sacha before making a small mistake at turn one. Robert took advantage and then I tried to stay close while also managing the tyre temperatures. I let up a little before coming back to attack Robert at T11, but the safety car came out and then unfortunately there was the accident between Sacha and Robert.”
Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) : “After my first podium at the Nürburgring, I kept the momentum going at the Red Bull Ring. Sadly, I made too many mistakes in qualifying there. Nevertheless my pace was still there and it showed this morning in qualifying. I started fifth and I picked up a position on the first lap. The leading trio was very fast, but I managed to stay close. The end of the race was strange. It is good to finish on the podium, but it is sad to see my team mate Sacha end his race upside down after he had led from start to nearly the finish.”
Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) : “I made a mistake at the start and preferred to let Max pass me because I had no chance to regain my position. I was sliding a lot on the first three laps, but was able to pick up the speed when the tyres kicked in. After some fine moves, I overtook Max before catching up to Sacha just until the final duel. Everything was fine, he slowed at the entry to the chicane and I was a bit faster, I looked to the inside. I was on the curb and there was nothing I could do and we made contact. I absolutely did not want it to finish the way it did and I am sorry for that.”
|1. Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing)||235|
|2. Will Palmer (R-ace GP)||221|
|3. Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP)||208|
|4. Max Defourny (R-ace GP)||175|
|5. Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing)||153|
*Results subject to confirmation following technical and sporting verifications.