Gabriel Aubry battled hard to secure victory in the opening race of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup season, defeating Tech 1 Racing team-mate Max Fewtrell after an exciting battle.
Having earned pole position by 0.035 seconds earlier in the day, Aubry swapped positions with fellow front-row starter Fewtrell on a handful of occasions at the front of the field, before a mid-race safety car interrupted proceedings.
Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer was racing side-by-side with Theo Coicaud heading into the second chicane when the two drivers collided, with the former ending up upside-down. Luckily the JD Motorsport driver was able to get out unscathed from the incident, but the safety car closed up the remainder of the field.
The field had already seen retirements for Thomas Maxwell and Charles Milesi, with the Tech 1 Racing and R-ace GP drivers colliding on the exit of the first chicane on the opening lap, while Presley Martono found himself end up in the gravel trap at Parabolica at the end of lap two.
On the restart, Aubry kept the advantage, winning by 0.616 seconds at the end of the thirteen-lap race, with Maxwell second ahead of Bartlomiej Mirecki, who claimed a maiden NEC podium for his family-run BM Racing squad.
Mirecki was forced to withstand pressure from behind, first from Gilles Magnus and then Sun Yue Yang, with the Chinese driver ultimately claiming fourth for JD Motorsport ahead of Magnus, while Thomas Neubauer ended up sixth for Tech 1 Racing despite failing to take to the track at any point on Friday.
Frank Bird finished seventh on the road but he was handed a time penalty for track limit offences, meaning he dropped to ninth, while a similar penalty, this time for weaving dangerously at the start, dropped Coicaud to tenth.
Inheriting seventh therefore was Julia Pankiewicz of Burdett Motorsport, while Wing Hoong Chia was eighth for Fortec Motorsports.
Race two takes place on Sunday with Aubry again on pole position from Magnus, Fewtrell and Yue Yang.
Autodromo Nazionale Monza Race 1 Result
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