Max Defourny inherited his first victory of the 2017 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series season at Paul Ricard after on-track winner Robert Shwartzman was handed a post-race drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Sacha Fenestraz that ended with the French-Argentine driver upside down.
Fenestraz had led for the whole race, but had found the gap to his rivals cut to nothing when a late race safety car was deployed, caused when Najiy Razak and Julia Pankiewicz collided at the chicane mid-way down the Mistral Straight, with the latter making an optimistic move on the former that pitched the Malaysian into a spin with a broken suspension.
The marshals did a great job to clear the cars away in time to allow a one-lap shootout, and it was this one lap that defined the race, with Shwartzman attacking Fenestraz in the same place that Razak and Pankiewicz came to blows.
Shwartzman’s move on his championship rival looked optimistic at best, and it ended up with the Josef Kaufmann Racing driver rolling onto his roll hoop and coming to rest upside down. He was able to get out of the car unaided, but it was his first no-score since retiring from race two at Silverstone back in May.
The post-race penalty for Shwartzman saw the R-ace GP driver relegated him from the top step of the podium all the way down to twenty-third!
Defourny, who had run second early on before losing out to team-mate Shwartzman, ultimately inherited the win, his first of a year where he was expected to be the man to beat for the championship, but the Belgian’s win, coupled with the no-scores for both Shwartzman and Fenestraz, puts him firmly back into contention.
Yifei Ye secured his best result of the season with second place for Josef Kaufmann Racing, while Will Palmer took the final spot on the podium for R-ace GP to close the gap on Fenestraz at the head of the championship to just fourteen points.
Richard Verschoor broke a run of seven races without scoring with a seasons best fourth place for MP Motorsport ahead of fellow rookie Max Fewtrell of Tech 1 Racing, while wild card entrant Charles Milesi was an excellent sixth for R-ace GP, even though he was not eligible for points.
Neil Verhagen was seventh for MP Motorsport ahead of Aleksandr Vartanyan of JD Motorsport, while Thomas Randle, Zane Goddard and Jarno Opmeer completed the points scorers.
There was disappointment for Gabriel Aubry and Daniel Ticktum, with the duo clashing at the final corner at the end of lap eight, with the latter retiring while the former dropped out of a points-paying position to fifteenth at the chequered flag.
Circuit Paul Ricard Race 1 Result
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