Victory in style in Le Mans Charles Pic proved that he always shows up on big days. This season he has already won Monaco, which is the most prestigious race of the calendar, and he shone again in Le Mans, which is the most popular.170,000 ...
Victory in style in Le Mans
Charles Pic proved that he always shows up on big days. This season he has already won Monaco, which is the most prestigious race of the calendar, and he shone again in Le Mans, which is the most popular.170,000 spectators turned up at the meeting, and saw the young Tech 1 Racing driver take top spot in Race 1 and come 6th in Race 2.
Charles made sure he added panache to the manner of his performance. We remember the risks he took between the rails in on a wet track in the principality when he triumphed over Giedo Van der Garde, the highly-experienced championship leader. Here on the Bugatti circuit, the young man from Montelimar made two spectacular and decisive overtaking manoeuvres, much to the delight of the crowd massed around the Dunlop chicane.
The French leg of the World Series by Renault started well for Charles, as he clocked useful times during practice. He was 2nd fastest on the dry on the Thursday then 3rd in Friday's rain, qualifying with no problem for the Superpole on Saturday morning. This new sequence was introduced at the start of the season and it has become one of the high spots of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. As so often happens, there was not much to choose between the lap times and the order changed constantly. When the flag finally dropped Charles was the 6th fastest man.
As the rulebook states, this put him on the second line in Race 1, which was to prove one of the most closely-contested of the season. The opening laps saw an epic struggle for 3rd place between Charles and Fabio Carbone, and they changed positions twice in the 9th lap! The Tech 1 driver went into the final stages of the race with better tyre pressures. Once he got into his stride he began to attack Miguel Molina.
"I slipstreamed him down the main straight in front of the stands and slipped past on the inside as we were breaking into the chicane", said Charles. He tried the same trick on leader James Walker in Lap 17. "He'd been closing me out for several laps and once more he drifted over to the left when I tried to get past on the inside at the end of the main straight. So I decided to move over to the right. In trying to keep in front he came out of the bend badly and I was able to get by under the Dunlop bridge."
For Race 2 Charles was back in the 6th place on the grid he'd earned in the Superpole. The conditions seemed not so good for overtaking because the wind had dropped, making it harder to slipstream down the straight. After the compulsory tyre change the order didn't change much and Charles came 6th, adding another five points to his tally.
Behind Van der Garde, who is now just a few points away from the title, anything can happen. Charles, however, is not getting carried away by the final standings. He's just hoping once again to be amongst the winners in Estoril and Barcelona, circuits on which he picked up four podium places out of a possible six last year in Formula Renault 2.0! Portugal plays host to the World Series next September 27-28.