- Nasr Dominant in Ricard Race 1
- Midfield tussle goes to Jaafar
- Felix da Costa stars again in France
Felipe Nasr extends points lead with dominant performance in Paul Ricard race 1
At the Paul Ricard circuit this afternoon Felipe Nasr (Carlin) edged ever close to the championship after a superb drive from lights to flag, holding off an early challenge from Antonio Felix da Costa (Hitech Racing) to claim his 6th victory of the season. The Brazilian is starting to look unbeatable as his main opposition missteps, makes mistakes and generally fails to find consistent form. 3rd was Carlos Huertas (Carlin) who survived a late challenge from poleman Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) to snag the last step on the podium. Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) won the Rookie Class (well he would, he’s the only man in it now) despite spending a couple of laps in the pits in the early stages.
At the start Magnussen simply bogged down when the lights went out, while Nasr made no mistake at all and streaked into the lead, towing da Costa with him. As Magnussen went backwards, and Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) ran wide it all got a bit hairy in the pack. Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport) who started a long way back was up to 4th before anyone could stop him, and Jack Harvey (Carlin) followed in his wake, passing the Dane for 5th. William Buller (Fortec Motorsport) was also trying to join in and there was an awful lot of bumping and barging while they sorted themselves out. And all of that was allowing Nasr to pull away, although he didn’t seem able to shake da Costa at this early stage.
The squabbling behind intensified (perhaps it was the heat getting to them) and Buller made his first attempt to get the drop on Harvey (Carlin). Harvey was having none of it, and as a result Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing) had a go at Jaafar, only to end up losing ground himself. Nasr, meanwhile, was coming under sustained attack from da Costa, and needed to defend strenuously to keep the Portuguese at bay. Nasr set the fastest lap so far of the race as he fought to keep his lead, but Magnussen was storming along as well as he attempted to recover ground, and he was even faster than the Brazilian. And before long da Costa was even faster…
Elsewhere in the order Bart Hylkema (T-Sport) wasn’t enjoying his International Class debut as much as he might have hoped, pitting with a destroyed rear wing. No one was paying that much attention to activity off the track though, not with Magnussen barging past Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) to regain 5th before setting off to hunt down Foresti. By lap 5, with Nasr an increasingly vanishing yellow spot in the distance, the Dane had caught Fortec’s Brazilian and was all over him. In a desperate lunge he nudged Foresti over onto the painted area of track where no one wanted to go. The paint is absurdly sticky, and the while line you have to go over to get there is very sharp and does a slick tyre no good at all. However, Foresti wasn’t exactly given the choice, and ended up a long way off and several places further back as a result. Behind Magnussen, Harvey and Svendsen-Cook were having at each of with Svendsen-Cook not quite able to pass the newly confident Harvey.
Foresti was sliding down the order after Magnussen’s attack though, and Buller was next to hack past, while Jaafar was starting to size the Brazilian up too. Nasr, meanwhile, had broken away from da Costa and was simply cruising to victory it seemed. Another fastest lap was his reward, to no one’s great surprise. If you wanted to be surprised, then you had to look to Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport), the Bahraini seeming more confident than he has of late, as he set about passing Jaafar, whose afternoon wasn’t exactly going to plan right now. Next the Malaysian had to hold off Fantin, and Harry Tincknell (Fortec Motorsport), though only by developing a very wide car indeed. Things nearly got even more interesting when Sakurai pitted for some sort of repair work, and eventually rejoined, just in front of the leaders. Nasr didn’t bat an eyelid and simply passed the Japanese to continue his victory procession, and the rest of them had less trouble than might have been expected in avoiding the Rookie Class (all one of them) as it circulated lonely as a cloud.
The real battle was for 8th though, and now it was Jaafar on the move as he passed Idafar only to lose out to Tincknell, who had got the drop on Fantin, while Idafar suddenly lost power and dropped a long way back before abandoning ship in the pits. That left Foresti as Jaafar’s next target, which was where it all got a bit messy. Jaafar got launched into the air and lost ground to Tincknell as a result. To add insult to injury, Fantin jumped him as well, and suddenly he was going backwards. It wasn’t necessarily the end of the world, not as they all bunched up behind Tincknell. In fact the queue was getting distinctly disorderly now, with Fantin hacking past Tincknell, and Jaafar following through. With two more laps left that might have been it, except a late lunge from Fantin to try and snag the place from Foresti went badly wrong, the latter ending up going wide in the Chicane. That let Jaafar back ahead, and Fantin ended up losing 6 places with no time left to do anything about it.
Nasr came home to his 6th victory of the year, ahead of da Costa, Huertas who held off Magnussen all the way to the flag, Harvey, Svendsen-Cook, Buller, Jaafar, Foresti and Tincknell. 11th was Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport), Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing), Pipo Derani (Double R Racing), Scott Pye (Double R Racing), Fantin, Yan Cunha (T-Sport), Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing) and Sakurai, who finished a lap down.
The fastest laps were set by Nasr and Sakurai.
Weather: Hot, sunny, dry.