Round two of this season’s Clio Cup France will be part of the Pau Grand Prix weekend (May 11-13). Equal on points after Nogaro, Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition) and Benoit Castagné (Raiwoit Racing) will continue their duel where the veteran has a marked statistical advantage as he has won every year on the streets of the southwestern French city!
With a win, pole position and runner-up finish for both, Nicolas Milan and Benoit Castagné held one another in check at the 2018 Clio Cup France season-opener. Living up to their status as favourites, the two left Nogaro on 85 points. Third overall is the outstanding Anthony Jurado (Setup Racing) - who also leads the Junior classification after making his debut in the category – 33 points adrift of the two leaders.
There will be a distinct change of scenery for round two of the season. After a circuit with lots of overtaking opportunities and wide run-off areas, the Clio Cup drivers will race between the Armco rails on the “Mini Monaco”. The 2.76km Pau layout has its share of breath-taking sectors like Tribunes, Casino and Beaumont Park corners, as well as some twisty bits such as Pont Oscar and Lycée and the Buisson hairpin.
Nicolas Milan though has mastered the circuit’s challenges. In five participations in Clio Cup meetings on the Pau Grand Prix bill ((2009, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017), the race car preparer from Lot-et-Garonne has won at least once each year. In contrast, Benoit Castagné has never made his way to the top step of the podium. Will this continue or end in 2018?
After just one meeting, the chances of the other category leaders cannot be under-estimated. As we have seen, Jurado is quite capable of mixing it up with the leaders. For his return to the field, Yoann Baziret (Setup Racing) scored a podium result that has him fourth in the general classification. He is followed by Thibaut Bossy (TB2S), who also scored a third place finish at Nogaro and was on the Pau podium last year.
In coming away from Nogaro with just one significant result at round one, Jérémy Curty (TB2S), Dorian Guldenfels (GPA Racing), Alexandre Gadois (Autosport GP) and Pierre Tierce (Tierce Racing) have already used their jokers, but they look ready to move up a rung in the hierarchy, as does Pierre-Etienne Chaumat (TB2S), who couldn’t back up his fine Q2 run at Nogaro.
David Pouget (GPA Racing) should be added to the list of favourites. Two runner-up results at Pau in 2013, he will try to find the same performance level for the first race meeting of his season.
In contention for the top spots in the general classification, Anthony Jurado and Pierre Tierce lead the way in the Juniors classification. Adeline Prudent (Prudent Compétition) and Corentin Tierce (Tierce Racing) are in a tight battle for third place.
In the Gentleman category, Stéphane Auriacombe (Tierce Racing) leads the way following an excellent opening weekend. He leads from the two drivers who took top honours in the category last year at Pau: Emmanuel Raffin (Autosport GP) and David Pajot (Vic’Team). Curb hoping specialist, Mickaël Carrée (T2CM) should also have what it takes to take part in the battle.
The Pau Grand Prix will kick-off Friday evening for the 30 entries in the Clio Cup France, with an opening free-practice, followed by a second early Saturday morning. The first qualifying session will take place in the early afternoon and race 1 will be run with the headlamps on at 8 in the evening. Sunday‘s action will be more traditional with race 2 getting underway at 16:50.
Friday May 11
17:50: Free Practice (30 min)
Saturday May 12
08:58: Free-Practice (30 min)
14:40: Qualifying 1 (20 min)
19:57: Race 1 (25 min + 1 lap)
Sunday May 13
12:10: Qualifying 2 (20 min.)
16:50: Race 2 (25 min + 1 lap)