TDS Racing one and two! At the close of an event-packed race, with the safety car out on two occasions, Jonathan Hirschi (TDS Racing) overtook team-mate Pierre Thiriet (TDS Racing) in the last lap and drove to his third race win of the season....
TDS Racing one and two!
At the close of an event-packed race, with the safety car out on two occasions, Jonathan Hirschi (TDS Racing) overtook team-mate Pierre Thiriet (TDS Racing) in the last lap and drove to his third race win of the season. The Swiss driver took full advantage of Mike Verschuur's retirement (McGregor by Equipe Verschuur) to extend his lead in the overall standings of this season's Eurocup Megane Trophy championship.
Despite his second place on the grid, Mike Verschuur was forced to take his car back to the pits and had to retire before the start. This left the road clear for Jonathan Hirschi who was into the first turn ahead of Pierre Thiriet and Nick Catsburg (Tech 1 Racing). The rest of the chasing pack was less disciplined and a coming together involving Wim Beelen (Equipe Verschuur), Hoevert Vos (Equipe Verschuur), Fabrice Walfisch (Team Lompech Sport), Harrie Kolen (Verschuur Autosport), Jean-Philippe Madonia (TDS Racing), Pierre Hirschi (Team Lompech Sport) and Giovanni Seminara (Oregon Team) not surprisingly brought out the safety car.
At the restart, Jonathan Hirschi held the lead ahead of Pierre Thiriet, Nick Catsburg, David Dermont (Boutsen Energy Racing), Lorenzo Bontempelli (Oregon Team) and Michael Rossi (Boutsen Energy Racing), Rossi having started from the back of the grid. The reigning Eurocup Megane Trophy 2008 champion got past Bontempelli then Dermont and pushed hard to catch up with Pierre Thiriet and Nick Catsburg, who were busy fighting it out between themselves.
Jonathan Hirschi was the one to benefit from the struggle going on between Thiriet, Catsburg and Rossi, as he stretched his lead. In full flow, Michael Rossi got the better of Nick Catsburg in lap 5, then pitted at the end of the next lap. He was the first of the leaders to go in for the compulsory stop. Next to pit was Jonathani Hirschi while Pierre Thiriet and Nick Catsburg chose to extend their stint. Another incident then disrupted proceedings. Bernard Delhez (Team Lompech Sport) punctured and lost control in the Raidillon corner, forcing the safety car out again. Those drivers who hadn't yet refuelled took the opportunity to go into the pits. Pierre Thiriet held onto first place ahead of Nick Catsburg and Lorenzo Bontempelli. Back in fourth and fifth places, Jonathan Hirschi and Michael Rossi were the big losers in the operation.
The restart was action packed. Pierre Thiriet got off without incident but Nick Catsburg had technical problems and ground to a halt. There was some serious jostling as several cars drove wheel-to-wheel into the La Source bend. Michael Rossi pushed through into second place ahead of Jonathan Hirschi and Bernhard Ten Brinke (Equipe Verschuur). Michael Rossi proceeded to attack Pierre Thiriet in the Bus Stop chicane but Thiriet kept cool as ice and held the lead. In the next lap, Rossi tried the same move at the same spot, but it ended in a spin. He rejoined the action in fourth position.
The last lap was decisive. Jonathan Hirschi made his move against his team-mate at Les Combes and finally drove to his third win of the season ahead of Pierre Thiriet, who got his first podium finish. Third place was won at the death in the final acceleration manoeuvre and almost under the chequered flag, Michael Rossi just getting in front of Bernhard Ten Brinke to take podium honours. Lorenzo Bontempelli won the battle of the Gentlemen Drivers.
Jonathan Hirschi: "The safety car ruined the start of my race. When we got started again I pushed as hard as I could. I took advantage of a few little errors by Michael and I got past my team-mate in the last lap. It was a great win and a perfect weekend with important points on the board."
Pierre Thiriet : "This is only my fourth race in motorsports and so my first podium. I'm very happy. I haven't really understood how I found myself in the lead. I held off as best I could. It's a super result for myself and for the team."
Michael Rossi: "Starting from the back of the grid, it's a good result to finish on the podium. My two mistakes when I tried to overtake Pierre Thiriet cost me the win. It's a shame. I was nearly there. I don't know if I'll be back this season, but this positive result may possibly change things."