EU Megane: Series Le Mans race one report

Jonathan Hirschi stays afloat! Surprise, suspense, overtaking and a winning bet, this Eurocup Megane Trophy race had everything! As the rain came down hard, Jonathan Hirschi (TDS Racing) opted to stay out on track. Fortune favoured him today ...

Jonathan Hirschi stays afloat!

Surprise, suspense, overtaking and a winning bet, this Eurocup Megane Trophy race had everything! As the rain came down hard, Jonathan Hirschi (TDS Racing) opted to stay out on track. Fortune favoured him today and he took the win ahead of Mike Verschuur (McGregor by Equipe Verschuur) and Jean-Philippe Madonia (TDS Racing). After a wacky race indeed, Jonathan Hirschi comes back to just three points from Mike Verschuur in the overall standings.

Eurocup Megane Trophy began with the uncommon sight of a coming together between Matthieu Cheruy (Tech 1 Racing) and Antony Tardieu (Tech 1 Racing) in the warm-up lap-- then -- at the end of the formation lap -- we were treated to another novel incident, as pole-sitter Dimitri Enjalbert (Boutsen Energy Racing) opened his door and raised his arm. The Frenchman was having a gearbox problem and had to watch the pack lead off for another formation lap without him.

The road was now open for Jonathan Hirschi. The TDS Racing driver led into the first turn ahead of team-mate Jean-Philippe Madonia and Fabrice Walfisch (Team Lompech Sport). However, Fabrice Walfisch took both the TDS Racing drivers by surprise at the La Chapelle turn. Jonathan Hirschi took matters in hand, but then the two men braked very late into the "virage du Raccordement" and came together. Nick Catsburg (Tech 1 Racing) took his turn to grab the lead.

Nick Catsburg led the race, ahead of Jonathan Hirschi, Jean-Philippe Madonia and Mike Verschuur, who had started ninth but was already fourth after just three laps. Despite damage to the front of his car, Fabrice Walfisch was pushing hard and got past David Dermont (Boutsen Energy Racing) and Pierre Thiriet (TDS Racing) in quick succession, moving up to fifth place just before the series of refuelling stops started.

Jonathan Hirschi was the first of the leaders to pit. Nick Catsburg and Mike Verschuur went for a different strategy and delayed their pitstop as long as they could. Nick Catsburg still held the lead at this stage ahead of Jonathan Hirschi and Mike Verschuur, but the rain began to pour ten minutes from the finish. All the other drivers were losing control on track. Both on slicks in the wet, Catsburg and Hirschi were side by side. Nick Catsburg decided to pit, Jonathan Hirschi opted to stay out on track.

Jonathan Hirschi, David Dermont, Jean-Philippe Madonia, Margot Laffite (Boutsen Energy Racing), Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur), Pierre Hirschi (Team Lompech Sport) and Hoevert Vos (Equipe Verschuur) all tried to keep on the track with their slick tires. After fitting wet tires, Nick Catsburg and Mike Verschuur were almost ten seconds per lap quicker. Mike Verschuur got past Nick Catsburg and the two men worked their way through the field, to 5th and 6th place respectively three laps from the chequered flag, then 3rd and 4th as they approached the final lap.

In the end, thanks to the skill of their drivers, the TDS Racing team strategy won the day. Jonathan Hirschi drove to the win ahead of Mike Verschuur who took second place under re-acceleration in the last lap. Jean-Philippe Madonia finished third overall and first in the Gentlemen Drivers class.

Quote, unquote: Jonathan Hirschi: "I'm very happy. The start was hairy, but the race was quieter after that. Except that the rain came down-- I opted to stick with my slicks despite the rain. It was the right choice in the end, even if the last laps were very dicy. It paid off, but what a race it was!"

Mike Verschuur: "Qualifying was difficult today, with braking problems, but the car was good for the race. Everything went great until the rain. We decided to go for the wet tires. We got back up from ninth to second place, so this was a good operation. Tomorrow I'll have to take some risks because I'm starting from far back."

Jean-Philippe Madonia: "It's my second time on the podium, just fantastic. I love the rain, and I took the same risk as Jonathan. The end of the race with Mike was real good sport. Congratulations to him."

-credit: wsr

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Matthieu Cheruy , David Dermont , Hoevert Vos , Jonathan Hirschi , Pieter Schothorst , Philippe Ma , Pierre Thiriet
Teams TDS Racing