Hartley from start to finish After starting from pole position, Brendon Hartley (Epsilon Red Bull) triumphed in the first Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 race of the season. The New Zealander was followed by the French rookie Tristan Vautier (Graff...
Hartley from start to finish
After starting from pole position, Brendon Hartley (Epsilon Red Bull) triumphed in the first Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 race of the season. The New Zealander was followed by the French rookie Tristan Vautier (Graff Racing) and the Dutch driver Henki Waldschmidt (Prema Power Team).
While the race started well for the front half of the grid, several drivers at the back of the field found themselves in the gravel on the first bend. A collision between Jon Lancaster (SG Formula) and Felipe Lapenna (BVM Minardi) left considerable debris on the track, and the safety car had to be called out after only one lap!
Brendon Hartley managed to maintain his lead over Tristan Vautier, Henki Waldschmidt, Oliver Oakes (Motopark Academy), Nelson Panciatici (SG Formula), Markus Niemela (BVM Minardi Team), Jaime Alguersuari (Epsilon Red Bull), Frank Kechele (Motopark Academy), Oliver Turvey (Jenzer Motorsport) and Tobias Hegewald (Motorsport Arena).
Racing resumed at the end of lap 4. Oakes was overtaken by Alguersuari, while Kechele made a mistake that cost him four places. Within two laps, the leader Hartley had opened up a 1.7 second gap on Vautier, who was keeping a close eye on Waldschmidt and Panciatici, engaged in an epic battle behind him.
The gaps between the drivers were increasing with every lap. Kechele got back into the points by overtaking Pic. The drivers jostled for position right up to the chequered flag. On the thirteenth lap, Turvey moved past Oakes into seventh, while Kechele found a way past Hegewald to grab ninth spot.
Outside the points, the battle between Andrea Caldarelli and Martin Plowman ended in a collision, which forced both Prema Power Team drivers to retire.
Brendon Hartley: "I don't really know what to say, except that I probably wasn't expecting to start the season with a win! Things are going as well as they possibly could with the Epsilon team. I haven't had a single problem with the car since I've been with them. Now I've got to stay focused for the second race."
Tristan Vautier: "The major difference between the Eurocup and the French Championship is the qualifying, where it's difficult to get two clear laps in among all the other cars. The race itself isn't so different. The gaps between the cars get wider as the race progresses. Henki wasn't far behind me before the safety car came out, but I restarted well and I managed to open up a bit of a lead on him.
Henki Waldschmidt: "A podium finish here is a good result after a difficult collective testing session on Thursday. I didn't do many laps but my car was in pretty good shape. The race went well."