Incredible scenes at Donington Having spent most of the race way out in front, Fabrice Walfisch was forced to abandon his hopes of victory when he ran out of fuel on the last lap. Maxime Martin and Ludovic Badey, both hindered by the...
Incredible scenes at Donington
Having spent most of the race way out in front, Fabrice Walfisch was forced to abandon his hopes of victory when he ran out of fuel on the last lap. Maxime Martin and Ludovic Badey, both hindered by the same problem, were unable to take advantage, and so it was Matthieu Lahaye who came out on top, with teammate Pedro Petiz completing a double for Tech 1 Racing, and Michael Rossi (Racing for Belgium) the third man on the podium.
Having qualified in tenth and eleventh places, Dimitri Enjalbert (Tech 1 Racing) subsequently had all his times disallowed for repeatedly changing his line. The Frenchman therefore started from the back of the grid. Fabrice Walfisch got off to a good start and went into the opening bend in the lead, followed by Maxime Martin, Matthieu Lahaye and Ludovic Badey. The front four wasted no time in breaking away from the chasing pack of Verschuur, Van Dam, Ten Brinke, Dhouailly, Madonia and Cheruy.
In the space of three laps, Walfisch opened up a 1.3 second lead over Martin. Lahaye was struggling to keep a rampant Badey at bay. Meanwhile, Gregory Franchi collided with Jean-Philippe Madonia and Dimitri Enjalbert was forced to retire due to mechanical problem.
Mike Verschuur went flat out to make up some ground on Lahaye and Badey, still involved in a ferocious battle ahead of him. Mike tried his luck, but Ludovic wasn't going to take it lying down and he managed to hold onto his lead. There was another exciting contest further down the field, with Ralph Meichtry, Gregory Franchi and Giuseppe Ciro battling it out for twelfth place. Ralph gradually pulled away, leaving his two rivals jostling for position amongst themselves. Through some aggressive driving, Meichtry moved up the field, passing first Rossi and then Dhouailly to break into the top 10.
Ludovic Badey was the first of the leading pack to refuel, shortly before the halfway point. With the TDS driver no longer on his tail, Lahaye could concentrate on attacking Martin. He waited until lap 13 to come into the pits, as did Verschuur, who was handed a drive through penalty for twice cutting across the chicane.
Walfisch and Martin made their stops one lap later. They rejoined the race in the same order, ahead of Badey, who was able to move past Lahaye thanks to the pit stops. Meanwhile, Meichtry continued his exhibition, moving past Van Dam and then Ten Brinke into sixth place. Forced into an error by Carlo, Bernhard retired from the race. Van Dam followed suit shortly afterwards.
The action was really happening with the battle for second between Martin, Badey and Cheruy. Some way adrift, Lahaye seemed destined to finish fifth, but he soon inherited fourth place when Matthieu Cheruy was forced to retire after running out of fuel. That was just the beginning of an incredible series of events in the final two laps Martin, Badey and Walfisch all finished in slow motion! Meichtry could not avoid the erstwhile leader on the last lap, and so his fantastic race went unrewarded Victory ultimately fell to Matthieu Lahaye, with Pedro Petiz in second and Michael Rossi, third.
Matthieu Lahaye: "Finally, a win! To tell you the truth, I didn't understand how I could be second before the pits and sixth afterwards. Then I saw all the cars slowing down on the last couple of laps and I realized our engineers had got their sums right.".
Pedro Petiz: "It's been a hard day. I had problems in qualifying, then Herve, our mechanic, was injured at the start of the afternoon. But we got through all that, and these points are really important for me. Matthieu and I would like to dedicate our double to Herve. We wish him a speedy recovery!"
Michael Rossi: "I couldn't believe it when my engineer told me over the radio that I was third! I didn't get a good start, but the team did a great job refueling. It was a long race and you had to be able to hold out until the end"