Two weeks after the EuroFormula Open debut of the Dallara 320 chassis at the Hungaroring, the series was back in action for two more races at the home of the French Grand Prix, the Circuit Paul Ricard.
Yifei Ye came into the weekend with a perfect score after two race wins in Hungary, which came alongside two pole positions and two fastest laps, and the CryptoTower Racing driver was again a man on form in France, although he saw his unbeaten run ended by one of his team-mates.
Fourteen Cars on the Grid as Motopark, CryptoTower Racing Add Third Cars
The same twelve cars that competed in Hungary were back for the second round of the season, but there were two additions to the field at Team Motopark and CryptoTower Racing.
Niklas Krütten and Manuel Maldonado were back for Motopark, but they were joined by Cameron Das, who missed the opening round due to his commitments in the FIA Formula 3 Championship. The American was back with the team he raced for in the final five races of 2019.
Current championship leader Ye and Angolan racer Rui Andrade also welcomed an additional team-mate at CryptoTower Racing, with Austrian racer Lukas Dunner making his EuroFormula Open return. Dunner has been in EuroFormula Open since 2018, racing for Drivex School in his rookie campaign before finishing third in the standings last year with Teo Martin Motorsport.
Dunner Finally Takes Breakthrough First EuroFormula Open Victory
It had been a long time coming for series-returnee Dunner, with the Austrian having raced thirty-four times in the championship without tasting the winner’s champagne. However, race thirty-five was his, which came from pole position and with the fastest lap of the race to boot.
Dunner started well and lead easily into turn one, while Ye came under immediate pressure from Carlin Motorsport’s Ido Cohen. However, the Chinese driver kept the position, perhaps cheekily, by running across the run-off, while the Israeli racer fell behind Van Amersfoort Racing’s Andreas Estner.
It was perhaps surprising that the stewards didn’t take a dim view of the move, which saw Ye maintain his place, but once the race settled down, it was clear that the two CryptoTower Racing driver’s were in a class of their own as they pulled easily away from the chasing pack.
Despite fears of heavy tyre degradation, none were forthcoming, and Dunner was able to set the fastest lap with just a handful of laps remaining, with the win coming by 4.673 seconds ahead of Ye, who backed off across the last couple of tours as he settled for second.
Estner kept ahead of Cohen to clinch the final spot on the podium, but the German and Israeli drivers were more than fifteen seconds behind Dunner at the chequered flag. Another good battle was between Krütten and Double R Racing’s Ayrton Simmons, with the German coming out ahead of the Briton in fifth by just over half a second.
Maldonado could only finish seventh after a bad opening lap, while Andrade finished eighth ahead of Drivex School’s Glenn van Berlo and the returning Das. Van Berlo and team-mate Shihab Al Habsi were on Das’ tail for the majority of the race, with the Dutchman able to pass the American heading into the chicane on the Mistral Straight.
Alexandre Bardinon and Sebastian Estner completed the finishers in twelfth and thirteenth, while Carlin’s Zane Maloney failed to appear in the race after being set to start fifth on the grid.
Ye Fends off Maloney for Race Two Victory
After finishing second best on Saturday, former Renault Sport Academy driver Ye returned to winning ways on Sunday, the Chinese driver claiming his third win in four races.
However, Ye was shadowed throughout the race by Maloney, who made amends from failing to start race one to secure his best result of the season to date, with Dunner completing the podium places.
Ye took pole position on Sunday morning and held onto the lead at the start, while Dunner lost second place to Maloney on the Mistral Straight. Maloney would then run in Ye’s tracks but was unable to make a decisive move and was ultimately forced to settle for the runners-up spot.
Dunner kept close to the leading duo to end a positive return weekend for the Austrian, with just 2.543 seconds covering the top three at the end of the sixteen-lap race.
Andreas Estner endured a more lonely race to finish off the podium for the first time in 2020, while Cohen ended fifth ahead of Krütten and Simmons, who again battled right until the chequered flag with the German coming out ahead.
Das, Andrade and van Berlo completed the points scorers, although the latter will be happy to have scored a point after being spun early on by Van Amersfoort Racing’s Bardinon. Van Berlo ended up just ahead of Sebastian Estner, who will be glad to be leaving France after a poor weekend.
The other Drivex School car of Al Habsi was also another spinner after being tipped around by Maldonado, who had been recovering from a stall on the line. Bardinon ended twelfth ahead of Al Habsi, while Maldonado ended the day at the back of the field in fourteenth.