WEC: Series Spa-Francorchamps summary

Berthon's maiden win - Costa scores number five! Nathanael Berthon (Epsilon Euskadi) was third in Pau, second at Magny-Cours and he went one better on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit scoring his maiden victory! His team-mate, Spaniard Albert...

Berthon's maiden win - Costa scores number five!

Nathanael Berthon (Epsilon Euskadi) was third in Pau, second at Magny-Cours and he went one better on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit scoring his maiden victory! His team-mate, Spaniard Albert Costa, won the second round giving him his fifth victory of the season and consolidating his position as leader of the Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup.

With only a single qualifying session programmed, the two best times of each driver were used to decide the grids for the two races. Miki Monras (SG Formula) ruined his chances by going off in the Les Combes after only five minutes. Albert Costa had no problems setting the two pole positions. The front rows were identical for both races with Costa and Berthon on number one and Carlos Munoz (Epsilon Euskadi) and Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Formula) on row two.

The first race on Friday afternoon began under grey skies in cold weather. Costa messed up his start completely and was passed by the whole field. Berthon took the lead from Munoz and Vergne. Ramez Azzam (SG Formula) on the third row also made a very bad getaway.

Vergne passed Munoz in Les Combes to take second place. A lap later, Julien Abelli (SG Formula) did the same in the same place. An all-fired up Costa began his fight back passing Azzam, Monras and then Miguel Otegui (Epsilon Euskadi).

On lap 3, Munoz bent the nose of his car trying to pass Abelli at La Source hairpin and retired shortly afterwards. The order was: Berthon, Vergne, Abelli and Costa who soon began to monster Abelli. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one that really sorts out the men from the boys as Arthur Pic, Hugo Valente and Azzam found to their cost.

The no-holds-barred battle between Abelli and Costa for third finished in tears when they collided at the Bus Stop chicane. Abelli managed to restart by cutting the chicane, which led to a drive-through penalty. Behind Berthon and Vergne, Monras finished on the third step of the podium and the top 5 were rounded out by Otegui and Benjamin Lariche (Pole Services).

The weather was still bad on Saturday at midday when the start of the second round was given as a curtain raiser to the Spa 12 Hours (BTCS). The Swiss Formula Renault 2.0 Championship drivers joined the 2.0 West European Cup for this race giving a full grid of 24 cars.

This time Costa made no mistake when the lights went green and shot to the front from Berthon, Munoz, Vergne, Azzam and Abelli. Despite a good start Lariche hit the tyres in Fagnes and had to pit to have the nose changed. Berthon was all fevered up by his first win and did not let Costa make the break.

There was an intense battle going on behind the leaders between Otegui, Monras, Abelli and Valente. On lap 7, Otegui's gearbox broke letting Abelli into sixth; he was passed by Monras on lap 9. Next time round Munoz's car's suspension broke letting Vergne into third, and Monras snatched fourth from Azzam at the same moment.

Berthon tried to get past Costa in the Bus Stop chicane just before the finish. The Spaniard cut the chicane and was given a warning, but hung on to the lead until the chequered flag.

In the overall classification, Vergne closed the gap to Costa slightly but he is now under extreme pressure from Berthon. Abelli was the main loser at Spa and fell from third to fifth spot overall in the championship ratings.

-credit: fr wec

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Albert Costa , Benjamin Lariche , Nathanael Berthon , Carlos Munoz , Miki Monras , Ramez Azzam , Arthur Pic , Hugo Valente