Louis Deletraz disagreed with the stewards decision to penalise him for causing a collision with championship rival Tom Dillmann during Saturday’s opening race at the Circuito de Jerez that saw the Swiss driver drop from fourth to eleventh in the results.
The Fortec Motorsports driver was adjudged to have been at fault in the clash at turn nine as he made a move on the AVF by Adrian Vallés driver, and without any means of appealing the decision, the ten-second penalty relegated him out of the points.
“The weekend got off to a good start with good speed in the first practice sessions, even though P4 for race one didn’t really reflect that,” said Deletraz. “I made a good start to the first race and was P2 at the first braking but in turn two I got hit from behind and pushed sideways and was passed by three cars – putting me in a fight for fourth with Dillmann.
“I attacked in the hairpin but he was able to cross me over and re-take the position. But it was close. I had the speed and I went to overtake again in the first right-hander at turn ten. I was half a car next to him, with my front wheels in line with his side-pod, when he turned in on me and there was contact. I carried on to finish fourth but the time penalty dropped me to eleventh – and we lost twelve very important points.
“The team and I were not happy about it. We believe Dillmann should have given us space, according to the regulations, but the decision was made and we weren’t able to appeal it. The best answer I could offer was to put the car on pole today and that’s exactly what I did.”
Despite starting on pole position, Deletraz found himself relegated to second place at the start by a fast-starting Egor Orudzhev, and was unable to pass the Russian, ultimately being forced to settle for second place, but more importantly he took over the lead of the championship.
“I had an alright start but it seems that Orudzhev had a monster start from P5 and passed everyone – including me – and on the tight Jerez circuit I just couldn’t get past,” said Deletraz.
“He pitted early and I stayed out and did three lap records in a row, so I know my pace was good. We boxed because there was a yellow flag, and the chance of a safety car, but that went against our original strategy of going for as long as possible on our good tyres before putting on an older set for a short stint to the finish.
“Instead, we changed onto the old set earlier. The rears went off on the last few laps and I had to settle for P2. But eighteen points got me the championship lead and that was the most important thing.”
Deletraz admitted he was not expecting to be leading the championship with just the two races at the Circuit de Catalunya to come next weekend, but is looking now to continue his momentum and clinch the championship.
“The battle is really exciting,” Louis said. “To be honest, I didn’t expect to be leading the championship at this point because Dillmann had such a big advantage earlier in the year. But in the last two meetings we have made forty-three points on him.
“The last few rounds have been very strong because I think the team and I have worked harder than anybody else. Now we want to keep the momentum and go and win this title.”