Oscar Nogues led home Alex Morgan for a Rangoni Corse one-two in Round Four of the 2014 Renault Eurocup Clio Championship at the Nurburgring, his third win of the season extending his championship lead to 27 points in the process.
Josh Files had started the race from pole position, having led the way in qualifying by nearly eight tenths of a second, however a spin on the opening lap and then a dramatic last lap roll made it a race to forget for the reigning champion.
A slow launch off the line for Files left him under threat heading into the first corner, with five cars scrapping over the lead. As the bunch squeezed through turn two, an unfortunate spin for Files dropped him to sixteenth.
Eric Tremoulet emerged from the shuffle in the lead, with Renault UK Clio Cup front-runner Morgan slotting into second ahead of Nogues and Mikel Azcona. Their momentum was soon halted though, with the safety car taking to the track after a first lap accident for Ronnie Marchetti.
At the restart on lap five, a great four car battle developed for the lead. Tremoulet stayed in front for a lap, before a slide wide at the Dunlop hairpin allowed Nogues to nip into the lead, the Spaniard having passed his team-mate Morgan on lap five.
At the final chicane on lap six, Morgan briefly got into second ahead of Tremoulet, however both cars ran wide allowing Azcona to storm past both. The Spaniard’s grasp of second didn’t last long though, a mistake on lap seven allowing Morgan and Tremoulet back ahead.
All that action allowed Nogues to pull away at the front and he went on to take the win by 3.518 seconds, while Morgan managed to edge away from the two behind to enjoy a comfortable run to the flag for his maiden Eurocup Clio podium.
“Yesterday, we made the wrong tyre choice.,” said Nogues. “This morning, it was much better with fourth place on the grid. Eric and Alex pushed very hard, but I picked up the pace after the safety car period to take the lead and go on for the win.”
“We knew we had the pace in dry conditions, even though we missed out on scoring a lot of points yesterday due to a bad choice,” added Morgan. “Today, we made the right decisions. After the safety car, I struggled a little, but I managed to finish second.”
Tremoulet and Azcona enjoyed a fantastic fight to the flag, switching places multiple times over the final few laps. Tremoulet eventually secured the final podium place, but the two crossed the line just 0.128 seconds apart.
Behind, a fierce fight for fifth resulted in the last lap drama for Files. The Brit had recovered superbly from his early spin, and after moving up to eleventh by the early safety car, he was up to sixth within three laps after the restart.
In the final stages, he closed on Salvatore Arcarese for fifth and made a move around the outside into the first part of the final chicane. A big hit on the inside kerb though sent his Clio into Arcarese and ended with him rolling over onto his roof and out of the race.
Benefitting from that to grab fifth at the flag was Round Three winner Massimiliano Pedala, with Arcarese managing to salvage tenth with broken steering on his Rangoni Corse-prepared Clio.
Ivan Pulic and Rafael Villanueva produced great drives to finish sixth and seventh meanwhile, having shared the eighth row of the grid at the start. Both drivers were up into the top ten after the opening lap, and then benefitted from the late drama to snatch top seven finishes.
Nikolay Gryazin took eighth ahead of Round Three podium finisher Facundo Della Motta. The other top three finisher from the weekend’s earlier race, Tomas Pekar, had a much more dramatic encounter, with a massive high-speed moment at mid-distance resulting in his race ending in the gravel trap.
The full race result can be found here: http://www.worldseriesbyrenault.com/IMG/pdf/03_classification_race_2_eurocup_clio-5.pdf
2014 Renault Eurocup Clio Championship Standings After Round 4 of 8:
1. Oscar Nogues – 83pts
2. Massimiliano Pedala – 56pts
3. Eric Tremoulet – 46pts
4. Mikel Azcona – 45pts
5. Josh Files – 32pts
6. Alex Morgan – 22pts