Super Matthieu! The Tech 1 Racing team have got their 2006 Eurocup Megane Trophy campaign off to the best possible start. Matthieu Lahaye won the Junior category twice, finishing on the overall podium in the...
The Tech 1 Racing team have got their 2006 Eurocup Megane Trophy campaign off to the best possible start. Matthieu Lahaye won the Junior category twice, finishing on the overall podium in the second race.
As was the case last year, the World Series by Renault season got underway at Zolder. This year, 87,000 spectators flocked to the Belgian circuit to witness at first hand the opening races of Renault Sport's international championships.
Tech 1 Racing had a real baptism of fire, as it is taking part in both the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 and also the Eurocup Megane Trophy. With five cars in total and four races in two days, everybody had their work cut out!
The Megane Trophy line-up consists of French youngster Matthieu Lahaye alongside Belgian driver Bernard Delhez. The team also looks after the car of Pierre Hirschi from Switzerland. On Friday, the meeting kicked off with three half-hour practice sessions.
Everything went smoothly for Tech 1 Racing's gentleman drivers, but Matthieu Lahaye hardly managed any running because of a clutch problem. "We were trying to find the cause of it for a long time," explained team boss Simon Abadie. "Then in the evening we noticed that the clutch was stuck to the flywheel. We worked all night to fix the problem and give Matthieu a good car for qualifying."
On Saturday morning things went much better for the Frenchman, who set fourth-quickest time. By contrast, Bernard Delhez had a substantial accident that forced him to miss the first race.
Saturday afternoon's first race started on a slippery track, and Matthieu lost a place off the grid to his rival Luigi Ferrara. The two juniors enjoyed a hectic battle throughout the race, with Matthieu managing to fight his way past on lap 10. He ended the race just off the podium, winning the junior category. Pierre Hirschi was 16th after a trouble-free run.
On Sunday afternoon, the second Megane Trophy race brought the Zolder meeting to a close. Matthieu started fifth on the grid, which was decided in order of fastest lap in race one. The Frenchman was up to fourth at the end of the first lap, and then had the better of Ludovic Badey and Jaap Van Lagen. He was quicker than the leader Jean-Philippe Dayraut, but had to settle for second place and another top score in the junior category. Bernard Delhez and Pierre Hirschi were best of the gentlemen drivers in 13th and 14th.
"It's been a very positive weekend," commented Simon at the finish. "Matthew has driven some intelligent races and proved that he has the speed to challenge for outright victory. Bernard and Pierre have also driven good races. They've both made a lot of progress, and should be capable of scoring points in the races to come."
The next round of the Eurocup Megane Trophy will take place in Istanbul from June 16-18.