The Dacia Lodgy Glace enjoyed podium success on its first competitive outing in the hands of Evens Sievenart at Val Thorens in the opening rounds of the 2011/2012 TrophÃ©e Andros. In complex conditions, Team Dacia's latest car performed well in the hands of Sievenart, Alain Prost and Nicolas Prost.
Alain and Evens headed into the event in the French Alps hoping to produce a competitive performance in the new car, while rookie Nicolas looked to get into a rhythm. It started well with Alain getting the fastest time in Saturday morning free practice, before Evens went second in the first qualifying heat, with Alain eighth.
Conditions worsened for the second qualifying heat, with the combined results of the two heats leaving Evens third, Alain tenth and Nicolas 25th. In the races, Alain started fifth and battled up to third at the flag, while Nicolas battled through to the finish despite a tyre coming off its rim. Evens meanwhile went on to win his race, which added to his qualifying heats performances consolidated his position for third for the day, with Alain ending up ninth overall and Nicolas 23rd.
Evens Stievenart said: “It was great to get the year started with a podium finish and victory in my race. I don't compete during the summer and I always need time to adapt to be able to post three consistent laps, so I was pleased with today's run. I feel very comfortable at the wheel of Dacia Lodgy Glace, but the conditions weren't easy. I was a little lucky to win today, and I think Alain was less fortunate.”
Alain Prost commented: “Dacia Lodgy Glace is a well-sorted car, and you could see that from my best time in free practice. The track conditions were complex today, with ruts, asphalt and bumps. They combined to make the car very unstable. It was a bit of a lottery. Evens' podium finish is a very positive result which proves the benefit of running two cars.”
Nicolas Prost added: “I learnt a great deal today. I only managed to complete 15 or so laps on ice in this four-wheel steering car, but it was all good experience. The aim is to push more and more each time out. I think I have already progressed a notch between my first run on Friday evening and today's finale. I know it's going to be hard work, and I intend to take things one step at a time.”
With confidence high, the team headed into day two hoping for more success and were greeted by a slight covering of snow. Following his top three finish the previous day, Evens was forced to carry 20kg of ballast. The first qualifying heat saw the track conditions evolve quickly, with Evens bagging fourth place. A tyre gamble for Alain didn't pay off, leaving him thirteenth, while Nicolas continued to familiarise himself with the car.
The second qualifying session saw Alain end up with the third best time, which added to his result in the later race, saw him conclude the day in fifth place. Evens enjoyed a competitive day to end up sixth, while Nicolas went on to win his final race after a daring passing manoeuvre, leaving him 19th overall for the day.
Evens emerged from the weekend in third place in the championship standings, with Alain eighth and Nicolas 21st. The action continues next week in Andorra.
Alain Prost said: “I had a good chance of winning the second qualifying heat but my chances took a blow on my last lap. The tenths of a second I lost were enough to drop me from first to third place. We showed that we will be able to fight for the title and Dacia has already claimed a podium finish. The car clearly has potential. The level is very high and it's a shame that we didn't come away with more points than we did, but there's a long way to go before the end of the season.”
Evens Stievenart commented: “I continued to drive as though I was on ice today, but a racing driving style would have been more appropriate. That's a lesson for the future. The positives are that I've scored points and been able to get an idea of Dacia Lodgy Glace's potential. I am third in the provisional TrophÃ©e Andros standings, so that's satisfying. We will work as a team to ensure that Alain Prost catches up with the leaders to challenge for what promises to be an extremely competitive championship.”
Nicolas Prost added: “The conditions were different today. There was more exposed asphalt and fewer ruts. That suited me better because the car jumped about less. I learnt so much this weekend. I now need to take a close look at all the data we collected in order to up my game in Andorra next weekend. It was great for morale to win my final.”
Provisional TrophÃ©e Andros standings:
1, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia), 150 points
2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman), 147
3, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 144
8, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 136
21, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 91