Max Defourny secured his first victory of the 2017 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series season at Paul Ricard, but the young Belgian admitted he would have preferred to take the win on the track rather than because of a penalty for another driver.
The R-ace GP was running third heading into the start of the final lap but moved up to second when team-mate Robert Shwartzman collided with Josef Kaufmann Racing’s Sacha Fenestraz and put the French-Argentine driver onto his roll hoop, and then was handed the win when the Russian was handed a twenty-five-second penalty for the incident, in lieu of a drive-through.
“What an eventful race!” said Defourny. “I had a good start and pressured Sasha (Fenestraz) all through the opening laps. I made a small mistake at turn one which allowed Robert (Shwartzman) to overtake me.
“I was pushing to get the place back but then the safety car came out and I ran out of time to get past Robert. He then got penalised which worked to my advantage. Obviously, I would have preferred to beat him on track but I am very happy to have collected a maximum of points at this race.”
Defourny again profited from a penalty for Shwartzman in Sunday’s second race when the Russian was disqualified from the race win on a technicality, with the Belgian moving up to second place behind Fenestraz to end a good weekend at the French circuit.
“A good race overall,” insisted Defourny. “I lost some time to Gabriel (Aubry) while trying to overtake him. I ran wide in the exit of a corner and couldn’t catch up after that.
“With Robert (Shwartzman) getting disqualified, I moved to P2. These are valuable points for me, but as I said before, I prefer to fight it out on the track!”
Defourny admitted it was a relief to finally take the breakthrough win in 2017, with the results keeping him in touch of the championship lead, although he still remains an outside bet, sitting as he does sixty-seven points off Fenestraz with just six races remaining.
“First victory of the season – finally!” said Defourny. “Together with the second place in Race 2, I got 43 valuable points this weekend which keep me in the title fight.
“I am now determined more than ever to win as many of the remaining races as possible. That the next event takes place at my home race and favourite circuit, Spa-Francorchamps, gives me additional motivation!”