Rossi rises to the occasion French driver Michael Rossi (Racing for Belgium) converted his pole position into a race win, the first of his racing career! Second-placed Fabrice Walfisch (Team Lompech Sport) finished on the podium for the first...
Rossi rises to the occasion
French driver Michael Rossi (Racing for Belgium) converted his pole position into a race win, the first of his racing career! Second-placed Fabrice Walfisch (Team Lompech Sport) finished on the podium for the first time in Eurocup Megane Trophy. With his fifth podium finish in as many races, Pedro Petiz (Tech 1 Racing) tightened his grip on the championship.
The two Megane Trophies of the Racing for Belgium team comfortably eased into the first corner at the front. The battle between Michael Rossi and Carlo van Dam was fierce, but the polesitter just about managed to hold onto the lead. Van Dam was quickly overtaken by Ludovic Badey (TDS). These three were followed by Pedro Petiz (Tech 1 Racing), Greg Franchi (Equipe Verschuur), Dimitri Enjalbert (Tech 1 Racing), Maxime Martin (Boutsen Energy Racing) and Fabrice Walfisch (Team Lompech Sport).
Martin wasted little time relieving Enjalbert of sixth place. At the front, Rossi built up a good lead over the chasing pack, made up of Van Dam, who had by then moved back ahead of Badey, Petiz and Franchi. Just behind, Walfisch coolly observed the Martin/Enjalbert duel.
Petiz and Enjalbert were the first to come in to refuel after just three laps. Franchi, Ten Brinke and Lahaye followed suit on the next lap. Up ahead, the gap between Rossi and Van Dam settled at around five seconds. Held up in fourth by Badey, Martin decided to come in on lap 6. But the Belgian's chances of a top-three spot faded when he was handed a drive through penalty for cutting across the white line at the pit lane exit.
At the halfway stage, Rossi held a 6'' lead over Van Dam. Walfisch was third after Badey had come into the pits. Further back, things were pretty well strung out between Matthieu Cheruy (TDS), Ralph Meichtry (Race Performance) and Pedro Petiz. Eighth-placed Dimitri Enjalbert was however being pressurized by Mike Verschuur.
While Dimitri Enjalbert was forced out due to a mechanical problem, Van Dam and Rossi made their pit stops on laps 13 and 14. Fabrice Walfisch briefly held the lead before he also came in for his pit stop. With 16 laps gone, Ralph Meichtry was the last of the favourites to refuel: the outcome of the race would soon become clear!
As expected, Rossi regained the race lead after his stop, but Walfisch had managed to sneak ahead of Van Dam! Petiz and Badey rounded off the provisional top five. Whilst fighting to hold onto eighth spot with Matthieu Lahaye, Bernhard Ten Brinke (Equipe Verschuur) was shunted into the barriers just five minutes from the end.
Clearly struggling, Van Dam was unable to hold off Petiz, Verschuur and Badey. Verschuur pushed hard to get past Petiz right up to the final corner, but he could not find a gap Van Dam's problems continued right to the finishing line. He could only manage tenth after also being overtaken by Lahaye, Cheruy, Martin and Horion.
Michael Rossi: "It was a tough race. The track, the car and the tyres were all overheating! As the laps went by, the handling of the Megane improved and I managed to get out of the pits in the lead. Thanks to all the team for this win."
Fabrice Walfisch: "I also have to thank Team Lompech. We have worked hard to improve the car's performance. Things just keep getting better and better. I have good memories of racing here: I was on pole in F3000 with Draco back in 1999!"
Pedro Petiz: "I couldn't go much quicker today. In particular, I had some problems with the brakes. But I held on in there to get the best possible result. This podium finish is good for the championship."