A weekend best forgotten!
And yet it all got off to a flying start! During collective testing the two Tech 1 Racing Formula Renault 3.5s were in the leading group. The whole team and both drivers had high hopes for the two races on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. But Lady Luck did not smile on the squad from Toulouse, which left the Ardennes without a single point to its name!
The first rounds of the championship on the Monza circuit had been encouraging, and the whole Tech 1 Racing team was hoping to continue the good work on the Spa-Francorchamps layout. Julien Jousse and Charles Pic arrived in the Belgian Ardennes with high hopes.
During collective testing it all went swimmingly! Julien got down to fine-tuning the car's set-up while Charles learned the circuit on which he had never raced before. On Thursday, they set the seventh and eighth times and collected precious information during the 6-hour session.
On Friday, the performance level went up a notch. Charles Pic made a big impression by setting the second-best time in collective testing. Julien, on the other hand, was suffering from physical problems and could do no better than eleventh. But the Tech 1 single-seaters were on the pace.
The Super Pole principal was used for the first time this season and so the first six in each group were chosen for it. In Group A Charles was the first to go for it. The driver from Montelimar was on track to qualify but he was bumped off sixth place at the very end. Julien set the fourth-quickest time in Group B.
The Super Pole is both original and special. The driver has to put in a quick lap right away without making a mistake. Julien did the job qualifying fifth.
For the first race of the weekend the first eight in the Super Pole started in reverse order putting Julien on the second row with Charles on the seventh. Julien made a good start and was in third place first time round. On lap 4, he moved up to second. Charles's race also got off to a promising beginning. He was on the pace battling for eighth place in the middle of a tightly-packed group. Spanish driver, Marcos Martinez, tried a rather risky overtaking manoeuvre and Charles on the inside defended his position. The two cars touched launching no.2 into a roll. Luckily, Charles got out without a scratch but his car suffered considerable damage. This collision brought out the safety car.
At that moment, Julien was still in second place behind Salvador Duran and in front of the championship leader, Giedo Van der Garde. When the track went green again Julien began to close the gap to Duran and with ten laps left victory seemed within his grasp. On lap 12, he went a bit wide on the approach to Blanchimont and Van der Grade drew level with him. The two drivers got their signals mixed up and the result was a collision between the men lying first and second in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. So the race ended prematurely for both Tech 1 Racing cars. This left the mechanics burning the midnight oil to repair the damage. "We've lost a lot of points today and above all we missed out on a win that was ours for the taking," analysed Simon Abadie.
All the Tech 1 team members worked late into the night to allow Julien and Charles to take part in race two. The former was on the third row and the latter found himself at the very back of the grid in twentieth position.
Julien again made a good getaway and arrived at La Source hairpin well placed. Guillaume Moreau tried to force his way past his fellow countryman and Julien had no choice but to run wide. His car was damaged in the incident - race over!
Charles Pic began a fighting comeback and pulled back places lap after lap. Sixth time round he was up into tenth spot. After his obligatory pit stop the 18--year-old driver got up to ninth. He made a slight mistake five laps from the chequered flag and finished in twelfth place.
"It's a weekend best forgotten," summed up Simon Abadie. "We have to look on the bright side of things, though; we were on the pace. With no points we've fallen back in the teams' classification and we're now fifth. Julien has proved that he's among the drivers who'll be battling for the title. As for Charles, he's on a steep learning curve. Now, more than ever, we'll have to bag a lot of points at every race beginning with Monaco. We've begun a long-distance sprint and we have to be consistent."
-credit: tech 1