Will Palmer took a remarkable maiden Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 victory at Estoril as race leaders Lando Norris and Max Defourny collided at the first turn on the final lap.
The R-ace GP driver was a few seconds behind the battle for the lead between series champion Norris and his big rival Defourny, when, after battling hard on the previous couple of laps, the pair tangled.
Defourny had made a move on the inside heading down to turn one, but on a damp track following earlier rain, the two clashed, turning Norris around and breaking Defourny’s front suspension.
Palmer, who had run second earlier in the race before being deposed by R-ace GP team-mate Defourny, gratefully inherited the position and took the chequered flag for his first Eurocup triumph.
The Briton was joined on the podium by Swiss driver Hugo de Sadeleer, who climbed from thirteenth on the grid to finish second for Tech 1 Racing despite running for much of the race with an element missing from his front wing, while a surprise podium finish went to debutant wildcard racer Alexander Peroni of TS Corse.
Many drivers found the damp conditions tricky, with two early safety car periods to remove stricken cars from the sidelines, the first of which came on the opening lap when James Allen ended up in the gravel trap, while a few laps later the safety car was needed again as Aleksandr Vartanyan stopped at the side of the circuit.
Robert Shwartzman had finished third on the road, but a twenty-five second time penalty for passing behind the safety car relegated him down to thirteenth, promoting Peroni to his amazing debut podium, while fourth place despite a mid-race mistake went to Dorian Boccolacci of Tech 1 Racing, just ahead of Harrison Scott of AVF by Adrian Vallés, who moved up from seventeenth on the grid.
Another driver to spin was Sacha Fenestraz of Tech 1 Racing, but the chaos and penalties ahead of him promoted him back up to sixth ahead of Fortec Motorsports’ Bruno Baptista and R-ace GP’s Marcus Armstrong. The New Zealander was battling hard with team-mate’s Palmer and Defourny in the early stages but was delayed by the latter that fall as low as twelfth.
The top ten was completed by Jehan Daruvala of Josef Kaufmann Racing and Nikita Troitskiy of Fortec Motorsports, while with Peroni, Armstrong and Troitskiy all ineligible for points, Julien Falchero, Alexey Korneev and Shwartzman claimed the final points.
Ferdinand Habsburg was another driver to see a points finish disappear on the final lap when the Fortec Motorsports driver ended up in the gravel trap, while his team-mate Frank Bird saw the chequered flag in fifteenth despite a couple of off-track moments of his own.
Estoril Race 1 Result
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