Current Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship leader Sacha Fenestraz and Gabriel Aubry shared the race victories at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, albeit in completely different circumstances.
Fog surrounded parts of the Belgian track on Saturday morning, and it left the race officials to force the start to be undertaken behind the safety car, and with conditions not improving, the red flags were flown with only three laps completed, with the running order at the start the result at the end, with half points being awarded.
This left Fenestraz to stand on the top step of the podium ahead of Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye, with Max Defourny, Max Fewtrell, Aubry, Richard Verschoor, Neil Verhagen, Will Palmer and Thomas Randle completing the points scorers.
Luckily the weather cleared for race two, and Fenestraz got the jump on fellow front row starter Aubry heading into La Source, but the Tech 1 Racing driver managed to get ahead of the Josef Kaufmann Racing star heading into Les Combes, just as the safety car boards were displayed for a heavy first lap crash at Radillion for Gilles Magnus.
Magnus was trying to attack one of the Red Bull-backed MP Motorsport drivers heading through Eau Rouge, only to lose control on the exit of the turn, with the R-ace GP racer hitting the barriers on the outside of the track viciously, with the Belgian being taken to the medical centre after being helped from his car.
Aubry controlled the restart superbly, and despite making a few attempts down the Kemmel Straight, Fenestraz could not find a way through, and a penultimate lap move saw him not only fail to pass Aubry but also fall behind Defourny after running off track at Les Combes.
Aubry took his third win of the season by 0.633 seconds from Defourny, while Fenestraz was able to extend his championship advantage by claiming the bottom step of the podium, but he will be disappointed not to convert his pole position into a second victory of the day.
Shwartzman’s season continues to fall away from him, with the Russian receiving a twenty-five second time penalty post-race for overtaking during the safety car period, which relegated the R-ace GP driver from fourth down to twenty-fifth, and it was his third penalty in four races after losing two race wins at Paul Ricard.
The ever-consistent Fewtrell inherited fourth for Tech 1 Racing ahead of Randle of AVF by Adrian Vallés, while Palmer kept himself in the championship battle by securing sixth for R-ace GP, with his race marked by an excellent and brave move on Ye into Eau Rouge.
MP Motorsport duo Verhagen and Jarno Opmeer finished eighth and tenth respectively, either side of Portuguese racer Henrique Chaves of AVF by Adrian Vallés, with Daniel Ticktum just missing out on points in eleventh ahead of fellow Red Bull junior Verschoor.
The final race of the weekend takes place on Sunday, and Fenestraz has a 45.5 point advantage over Palmer, but the battle will go down to the final event of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya regardless of the result.
Northern European Cup
In a race within a race, the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup quintet were fighting for honours in Belgium, and Magnus was victorious thanks to his better starting position in race one ahead of team-mates Charles Milesi, Michael Benyahia and Theo Coicaud, and BM Racing Team’s Bartlomiej Mirecki.
With Magnus crashing out of race two, it left Milesi in control of the race, only to make a mistake to allow Mirecki through, but the Polish driver was unable to retain the lead due to a gearbox issue that saw him lose pace.
This allowed Milesi back through to take his first NEC victory ahead of Benyahia, while Coicaud took his first podium of the year in third as Mirecki slipped to fourth by the chequered flag.
Spa-Francorchamps Race 1 Result
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Spa-Francorchamps Race 2 Result
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