Junior Single Seater Race Weekend Round-Up – 17-19 May 2019

by Paul Hensby

Last weekend saw the second rounds of the EuroFormula Open season in Pau, Super Formula season in Autopolis, Italian Formula 4 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, and the French Formula 4 at Pau.

EuroFormula Open – Pau

Liam Lawson took victory in the opening race of EuroFormula Open’s first visit to Pau, while Billy Monger took an emotional and historic victory for Carlin in the fabled Pau Grand Prix.

Race One

Liam Lawson took a dominant victory in the opening race of the weekend at Pau, with the New Zealand continuously pulling away from the rest of the field to triumph by more than sixteen seconds.

The Red Bull Junior, driving for Team Motopark, was out in front from the start, ultimately drawing away from team-mate Julian Hanses, who had moved up to second on the opening lap ahead of another Motopark driver Marino Sato.

Lawson was untouchable throughout, finishing 16.100 seconds ahead of Hanses, with Sato 2.495 seconds further back in third as Motopark locked out the podium.

“It was a great first couple of days,” said Lawson. “We got straight on the pace and even in Qualifying 1 we were fastest but I think that there was more to come there, we didn’t push it to the maximum.”

“In Race 1 I got a good start, settled into a good rhythm and enjoyed it.”

The race began in mixed conditions, with several drivers gambling on wet weather tyres, but it was the dry weather-shod runners who had the advantage as the track dried, forcing those who did take the wet tyre gamble to pit early on to make a switch.

Lukas Dunner took fourth for Teo Martin Motorsport, well clear of Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist, while Fortec Motorsports duo Cameron Das and Calan Williams claimed their first points finishes of the season in sixth and seventh respectively.

A lap down in eighth was Teo Martin Motorsport’s Aldo Festante, with Billy Monger ninth for Carlin having been one of those to make the gamble on wet weather tyres, while the final point went the way of Teo Martin Motorsport’s Guilherme Samaia.

The fourth Motopark car of Yuki Tsunoda was an early retiree, hurting his early championship ambitions in the process, while Nicolai Kjaergaard crashed out at the Foch chicane.

Liam Lawson dominated race one at Pau – Credit: GT Sport

Race Two – Pau Grand Prix

The weather again played its part in race two, and it was Monger who took the spoils in fantastic fashion, taking his first victory since his horror crash two years that resulted in him losing the lower parts of his legs.

Monger was one of three drivers to gamble on wet weather tyres, pitting at the end of the formation lap, but once unleashed he was amongst the quickest on track, and much quicker at times than the slick-shod runners.

After an early safety car, needed when Rui Andrade crashed out, polesitter Hanses was leading Motopark team-mates Tsunoda and Lawson before the New Zealander worked his way ahead at the final chicane.

Lawson attempted the same move on Hanses but found the German a far tougher nut to crack, the two colliding and hitting the barrier, allowing a charging Monger, who had just passed Tsunoda for third, to take the lead.  The safety car was needed again as the two Motopark cars were recovered, with the incident the second between Lawson and one of his team-mates in just two rounds.

Tsunoda joined the masses in pitting for wet tyres under the safety car but dropped down off the podium at the time, although he was able to make a few lap passes to reclaim third place behind Monger and Kjaergaard, another driver to gamble on pitting on the formation lap.

“I can’t believe it,” said Monger.  “After qualifying eleventh, even though we had more potential, I thought we’d be stuck in the mid-pack.

“I knew it was too wet on the green flag lap and made the gamble for wets.  From that point tried to pick them off one by one. I’ve just got to thank Carlin for everything.  Two years ago I didn’t think I’d be winning races, I’m just over the moon with this victory.”

Dunner took his second fourth-place finish of the weekend ahead of Carlin’s Christian Hahn, with Sato sixth ahead of Carlin’s Teppei Natori and Fortec’s Das, the latter gambling on remaining on slick tyres to the chequered flag.  Samaia and Festante completed the points scorers, while Williams was the only other finisher in a lapped eleventh after crashes for Lundqvist and Doohan saw them join Hanses, Lawson and Andrade in retirement.

Billy Monger took a superb Pau Grand Prix victory on Sunday – Credit: GT Sport

Super Formula – Autopolis

Yuhi Sekiguchi claimed victory in race two of the Super Formula season at Autopolis, despite the Japanese racer starting down in sixteenth position after struggling in the wet Qualifying session earlier in the day.

The majority of drivers took their mandatory pit stops early, either at the end of lap one or two, with only Yuji Kunimoto, Sekiguchi and Tadasuke Makino staying out as the safety car was deployed to recover the broken car of Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum, who had crashed out on lap two.

Itochu Enex Team Inpul’s Sekiguchi took over the lead with a good move around the outside of Kunimoto at turn one on the thirteenth lap, and when in front was able to pull a good gap to those behind, so much so that when he finally made his mandatory pit stop on lap forty, he was able to return to the track still in front.

Naoki Yamamoto claimed his second consecutive second place finish for DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing, but he fell 3.633 seconds short of going one better, while the final podium position went the way of UOMO Sunoco Team Le Mans racer Kazuya Oshima.

Yamamoto had run eighth after the pit stops but was able to make some positions up to finish second ahead of Oshima, who was one of those to pit at the very first opportunity on lap one, while Makino of TCS Nakajima Racing claimed fourth, although 17.594 seconds behind race winner Sekiguchi despite running a very similar pit stop strategy.

Makino did enough however to finish ahead of DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing’s Nirei Fukuzumi, while Alex Palou secured his first points of the season in sixth for TCS Nakajima Racing ahead of Kondo Racing’s Kenta Yamashita and Vantelin Team TOM’S Nick Cassidy, with the winner of the opening round of the season at Suzuka overtaking JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING’s Hiroaki Ishiura on the final lap to score the final point.

Kamui Kobayashi finished outside the points in tenth for carrozzeria Team KCMG, while the Red Bull-backed Lucas Auer also failed to score in eleventh for B-MAX with Motopark.  Auer’s team-mate Harrison Newey was one of two stallers at the start and finished a lapped seventeenth.

Artem Markelov retired his UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans car without getting going, stopping at the end of the pit lane without taking to the track with an apparent broken suspension having crashed out of Qualifying.

Yuhi Sekiguchi took victory at Autopolis – Credit: Super Formula

Italian Formula 4 – Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli

Gianluca Petacof continued his impressive start to 2019 with victory in race one, while the Red Bull-backed Dennis Hauger claimed his first win of the year in race two.  Race three was cancelled due to heavy rain.

Race One

Gianluca Petacof secured his third victory of the 2019 Italian Formula 4 season in race one at Misano, but he had to survive contact and a battle with Prema Powerteam team-mate Paul Aron to do so.

Starting from pole position, Petacof held the lead at the start and looked to have enough in hand to outpace the rest of the field, only for Aron to coming charging back to him around mid-distance, before the two made contact at turn eight with ten minutes to go as the Estonian attacked the Brazilian for the lead.

Petacof held onto the lead while Aron suffered damage to his front wing, dropping behind Van Amersfoort Racing duo Dennis Hauger and Niklas Krütten, both of whom were shadowing the Prema Powerteam pairing up until that point.

Hauger put pressure on Petacof up until the chequered flag but the Ferrari Driver Academy star held on for the win by 0.943 seconds, with Krütten just over a second further back in third.

Aron came in fourth, losing around five seconds in the incident and with the struggles with his front wing, but he finished ahead of team-mate Oliver Rasmussen, who made a bad start from fourth on the grid but recovered to pass another Prema driver, Alessandro Famularo for fifth.

Mücke Motorsport’s William Alatalo also found a way ahead of Famularo to finish sixth, while the top ten was completed by Van Amersfoort Racing’s Ido Cohen, Bhaitech’s Mikhael Belov and Cram Motorsport’s Roee Meyuhas.

Meyuhas had inherited tenth when Joshua Dürksen and Lucas Alecco Roy collided as they battled for that final point, with the former taking a ten-second penalty for the offence, although it did not lose the Mücke Motorsport driver a position.

Gianluca Petecof was victorious in race one – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Two

Hauger secured his first win of the campaign in race two, with the Van Amersfoort Racing driver passing team-mate Krütten on the penultimate lap at Misano.

Aron had kept the lead at the start having started from pole position, but the Estonian was soon in trouble from the stewards after he reversed onto his grid slot ahead of the start, earning himself a drive-through penalty for his troubles.

When Aron took his penalty, Krütten took over the lead having jumped Hauger on the opening lap, with the duo pulling away from the rest of the pack, which was led at this point by Prema’s Rasmussen.  This was until the safety car was deployed as Aron’s wretched race ended with him beached in the gravel trap.

Petacof found a way ahead of Rasmussen after the restart to run third, while the Dane was subsequently handed a five-second time penalty, but it did not cost him his fourth place position.

All eyes however were on the battle for the lead, with Hauger eventually finding a way ahead of Krütten on the penultimate lap to take his first win of 2019, with Petacof completing the podium 5.795 seconds back.

“The win today was really good, starting P2 I got pushed onto the grass and dropped to P3 but after a few laps was P2 again,” said Hauger.  “We were on wets but the track was drying and I kept my head down, not making any mistakes.

“I had to wait for my chance for the lead. I braked later going into turn one and pulled it off.”

Cohen was too far back to deny the penalised Rasmussen fourth, but the Israeli driver took fifth ahead of Meyuhas, while Belov took seventh ahead of Dürksen, Alataro and Jenzer Motorsport’s Jonny Edgar.

Dennis Hauger took victory in race two – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Three

Oliver Rasmussen was set to start race three from pole position, but heavy rain left officials no choice but to cancel the race before it began.  This means Petacof leaves Misano with a fifty-six point advantage on the rest of the field.

“It has been a very positive weekend for us,” said Petacof.  “A pole position, a win in race 1 and a podium in race 2 even starting sixth, so we extended the championship lead to 56 points.

“We maximized what we could in the races. A shame about race 3 but I am already looking forward to the next event.”

Race denied Oliver Rasmussen the chance to lead from pole in race three – Credit: ACI Sport

French Formula 4 – Pau

There were three different winners across the three races in Pau, with Reshad de Gerus, Enzo Valente and Hadrien David each taking turns on the top step of the podium.

Race One

Reshad de Gerus took victory in race one at Pau, although the race was marred by a twelve-car crash that caused a lengthy red flag at the legendary French circuit.

Stuart White had started from pole position but found himself beaten into turn one by fellow front row starter de Gerus, with the Frenchman controlling the race up until the fifth lap red flag.

The red flag was caused initially by Jules Mettetal hitting the outside wall at the turn four hairpin, with the Volant Winfield winner being collected by the cars following behind.  Twelve drivers were involved but everyone was unhurt despite some cars landing atop of others, but the race was suspended while the incident was cleared.

Just ten drivers took the restart and de Gerus remained in the lead, while Enzo Valente challenged White for second, only to lose a place to championship leader Hadrien David to run fourth.  It was not long before Valente was relegated another place as Isack Hadjar found a way ahead.

De Gerus was seemingly comfortable at the front but once David found a way ahead of White to run second, it was a close run thing until the chequered flag, the pair finishing just 0.190 seconds apart, with White finishing on their tail, the top three separated by just 0.554 seconds.

Hadjar and Valente finished fourth and fifth ahead of Valdemar Eriksen, Gillian Henrion, Mathias Poulet and Evan Spenle, the latter avoiding the initial red flag after taking a drive-through penalty for a jump start just prior to the incident.

Bryson Lew was the final driver to take the restart, but the American was forced to retire when he crashed out at turn seven.

Race Two

Valente took the victory in race two after an early move on polesitter Lew at the end of the opening lap, while Spenle and Henrion completed the podium.

Lew had held the lead into the opening lap but was quickly under attack from behind, with Valente and Spenle quickly finding a way ahead of the American, with Henrion also working his way into third.

The safety car was needed around half distance when Eriksen crashed out after running with a damaged front wing, but Valente was able to hold onto the lead at the restart, edging away from Spenle to win by 2.949 seconds.

Henrion pressurised Spenle to the chequered flag but could not find a way ahead of his fellow Frenchman, while Lew lost significant ground after the restart, dropping from fourth all the way down to ninth in the final six minutes.

Poulet secured fourth ahead of White despite pressure from the South African right to the chequered flag, while Hadjar took sixth ahead of de Gerus, Ugo Gazil, Lew and Mettetal.

De Gerus’ result moved him to within two points of David after the Frenchman was an early retirement, crashing out on lap two.

Race Three

The final race saw a wet Pau track, and it was David who recovered from his race two retirement to claim his third victory of 2019.

David and de Gerus both found their way ahead of polesitter White on the opening lap, with the duo pulling away from the field.  David would have the legs on everyone, edging away from de Gerus to win by 5.571 seconds, while White was a distant third ahead of Valente.

Sten van der Henst came out on top of a race-long battle against Mettetal to claim fifth, albeit more than thirty-three seconds behind race winner David, while Henrion, Victor Bernier, Gazil and Eriksen completed the top ten.

Spenle was an early casualty after hitting the barriers at turn two on lap two, while Hadjar did not even make the start after crashing on the warm-up lap.

David leaves Pau with a fourteen-point advantage over de Gerus at the top of the championship, with Valente well adrift in third despite his first win of the season in race two.

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