A first for Van Hooydonk Under chaotic conditions mainly due to the weather, the second MÃ©gane Trophy race was won by Jeffrey Van Hooydonk (Thierry Boutsen Racing) after Ludovic Badey (Pouchelon Racing) was disqualified. Renaud Derlot (TP ...
A first for Van Hooydonk
Under chaotic conditions mainly due to the weather, the second Mégane Trophy race was won by Jeffrey Van Hooydonk (Thierry Boutsen Racing) after Ludovic Badey (Pouchelon Racing) was disqualified. Renaud Derlot (TP Compétition) and César Campaniço (Racing for Belgium) took the other podium spots.
The rain started to fall just as soon as all the cars had lined up on the starting grid. Most of the drivers on the first few rows opted to stay on slicks, except for Jan Heylen (Racing for Belgium), Frédéric Gabillon (Team Lompech Sport) and Simon Abadie (Tech 1 Racing).
As you might expect, the first lap was full of incident. Pedro Petiz (Oregon Team) was the first victim. He was soon followed by Jean-Christophe Ravier (Epsilon Euskadi), Simon Abadie and Luis Miguel Reyes (Team Elias). Despite starting from the front, Renaud Derlot was unable to hold off Jan Heylen for long. Heylen completed lap one 4'' ahead of Ludovic Badey, Renaud Derlot, César Campaniço (Racing for Belgium) and Frédéric Gabillon.
Gabi', who was also on rain tyres, got past Derlot before starting to attack Badey. Heylen had already built a lead of 12'' with just three laps gone! Renaud Kuppens (Thierry Boutsen Racing) was the next to join the list of abandons after hitting a wall.
With the track starting to dry out, Ludovic Badey was finding it increasingly easy to hold off Frédéric Gabillon. The two Frenchman were involved in a superb battle. Further back, Derlot was unable to hold off Van Hooydonk. In the same group, Campaniço lost out in his fight with Sébastien Dhouailly by running off onto the grass!
Then, with eight laps gone, there was a major upset: Jan Heylen, Angel Burgueño, Philippe Macé and Jeroen Reijntjens alll picked up drive through' penalties for having worked on their cars after the sign shown five minutes before the start.
In the main field, Sébastien Dhouailly's fine performance was ended prematurely when he was hit by Santiago Porteiro. The Spaniard then got past César Campaniço in a much more sporting manner! But the Portuguese driver got his own back and finished 4th after taking the fastest lap.
While Heylen's lead over Badey had become stable at under 15'', the question on everyone's minds was whether the Belgian would be able to hold onto his lead after coming in for his penalty. In the end, he fell back to 7th. Then, while feeling his way round on rain tyres, Gabillon lost two places. This meant the podium places looked like they would go to Badey, Van Hooydonk and Derlot.
The leaders then caught the backmarkers and Badey forced Wim Coekelbergs (Racing for Belgium) off onto the grass. Jeffrey Van Hooydonk made a very impressive comeback on the final lap but it was not enough to find a way through before the chequered flag!
Once the race was over, Ludovic Badey and Santiago Porteiro were both issued with 60'' penalties for their manoeuvres on Coekelbergs and Dhouailly respectively. The final top 5 was therefore Van Hooydonk, Derlot, Campaniço, Lahaye and Gabillon.
Jeffrey Van Hooydonk: "I was unlucky yesterday and was unable to finish because of a puncture. This race was very tricky and I really enjoyed my battle with Ludovic in the closing laps. This victory comes at the right time for the overall standings and I feel confident for the rest of the season because we found the right setup now."