Belgians singing in the rain The first two qualifying sessions of the Eurocup Megane Trophy were held on a drenched track. Jan Heylen (Racing for Belgium) and Jeffrey Van Hooydonk (Thierry Boutsen Racing) showed that they were a cut above...
Belgians singing in the rain
The first two qualifying sessions of the Eurocup Megane Trophy were held on a drenched track. Jan Heylen (Racing for Belgium) and Jeffrey Van Hooydonk (Thierry Boutsen Racing) showed that they were a cut above the rest in the 'oh so British' conditions, which were, after all, not exactly untypical of their homeland either!
With Pascal Ballay unable to make it to Britain because his passport was out-of-date, in a gesture worthy of a true gentleman driver, he asked Energy Racing to hand his Megane over to Lucas Lasserre. The drivers took their time to feel their way around the rain-soaked track before going on the attack. The battle for the fastest time was fought out in the closing seconds. Renaud Derlot (TP Competition), Jeffrey Van Hooydonk (Thierry Boutsen Racing) and Ludovic Badey (Pouchelon Racing) were all placed within the same second just a minute from the close. At the chequered flag, it was Van Hooydonk who got the better of Derlot and Badey. Grouped within 7/10ths of a second, the three leaders had opened up a gap over Marc Benz (Iris Racing), 1''5 back. Lucas Lasserre had his best time disqualified for attempting a practice start after the chequered flag.
The second group saw Sandor Van Es (Equipe Verschuur), the 2001 Dutch Touring Car Champion, take to the track. Five minutes from the close, Jan Heylen (Racing for Belgium) beat Van Hooydonk's time to take provisional pole. His teammate, Cesar Campanico, tried to snatch it away from him, but failed by just 33/1000ths. After holding onto second for a long period, Renaud Kuppens (Thierry Boutsen Racing) was finally pushed back to the fourth row by Nicola Gianniberti (Oregon Team).
Angel Burgueño (Epsilon Euskadi) remained the fastest out there for a long time, but then Jan Heylen finally got into his stride. The Belgian driver set the best provisional pole with a lap in 1'55''761 with just four minutes to go. But Nicola Gianniberti responded immediately to go fastest by less than one tenth! With less than two minutes left, it was Renaud Kuppens' turn to go top. Gianniberti then snatched back the fastest time but made an error on his last attempt to go one better. Heylen needed no further excuse to put in a his final word right before the chequered flag. Gianniberti held onto second place ahead of Kuppens and Burgueño.
Once again, the real action only got underway in the closing minutes of the session. After having held onto the fastest time for a considerable period, Renaud Derlot was unseated from the top spot by Jeffrey Van Hooydonk. Derlot managed to hang on in there to regain the upper hand and come to within 1/10ths of Heylen's time. Ludovic Badey made an unsuccessful attempt to snatch second place from Van Hooydonk. But Jeffrey then put himself out of his rivals' reach by setting the best time of the day in 1'54''257. At the chequered flag, Badey took second place from Derlot while the list of the top 5 was completed by the Junior drivers Benz and Petiz.