Victor Martins was in sublime form as the Formula Renault Eurocup season resumed after the summer break with two races around the legendary Nürburgring track in Germany, with the Frenchman securing a perfect weekend of pole positions, fastest laps and victories.
Martins, who was dropped by the Renault Sport Academy at the end of 2019 despite finishing second in the Eurocup standings, hit the top of the championship standings for the first time this season as he showed his former employers just what he could do in the best possible way.
Seventeen Cars back for Round Three
The field was three cars down on entries compared to the second round of the season at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari at the end of July, with R-ace GP back to just two cars for Caio Collet and Petr Ptácek after fielding Johnathan Hoggard at Imola, while M2 Competition withdrew from the event as their driver, Mikhael Belov, was competing in the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
Joey Alders withdrew from his seat at MP Motorsport due to financial issues, leaving the Dutch outfit with just two entries for Franco Colapinto and Hadrien David.
The other change to the entry list came at Bhaitech Racing, with Vicky Piria coming in to replace Nicola Marinangeli, who missed the event due to a broken leg in a road crash during the summer break.
Martins Controls Race One from Pole Position
Martins, racing for ART Grand Prix, took pole position for the opening race of the weekend and was able to control the race from the front.
The Frenchman was able to build a gap to Bhaitech Racing’s Lorenzo Colombo early on and drove strongly to take his first victory of 2020 by 3.325 seconds from the Italian.
For Colombo, it was the first podium finish of a frustrating season to date, although the Italian was the only driver to keep Martins in sight, with third placed David Vidales (JD Motorsport) well adrift of the leading duo.
Vidales, a double race winner on his single-seater debut at Imola in July, made a good start to jump up to third, with Swiss driver Grégoire Saucy (ART Grand Prix) making a late race pass on William Alatalo (JD Motorsport) to claim fourth. Both drivers were able to finish ahead of Collet, who made a sluggish start to drop to sixth.
Colapinto finished a few seconds further back from Collet in seventh, with Ptácek, Amaury Cordell (FA Racing by Manor) and Paul Aron (ART Grand Prix) completing the points scorers. Tijmen van der Helm was on course for ninth before both Cordell and Aron passed the FA Racing by Manor driver in the closing laps. He ultimately finished eleventh ahead of the Arden pair of Ugo de Wilde and Alex Quinn.
All seventeen drivers saw the chequered flag, with David, Reshad de Gerus (Arden), Lazslo Toth (Bhaitech Racing) and Piria completing the field.
Martins Dominates Race Two in Germany
If race one was expertly controlled, Sunday’s second race at the Nürburgring was dominated by Martins, with the Frenchman leading home an ART Grand Prix 1-2-3 by more than nine seconds.
Starting again from pole position, Martins led away at the start, while fellow front-row starter Collet had another slow getaway to fall to fourth, behind the other two ART Grand Prix drivers, Aron and Saucy.
Martins was in a race of his own, with the Frenchman pumping in fastest lap after fastest lap to pull away from his team-mates, with a 9.013 second victory putting him to the top of the championship standings.
Aron and Saucy held on to the final positions on the podium to give ART a lock-out of the top three places, while Collet’s bad start meant the Frenchman could only finish fourth. He leaves Germany now second the championship, five points behind Martins.
Just behind Collet was Colombo, but the Italian was forced to follow in the wheel tracks of the three drivers ahead of him, while Colapinto drove a lonely race to sixth ahead of David, who equally had a quiet morning, while Vidales could only muster eighth place at the chequered flag.
Quinn scored two points for ninth as he continues to race at Arden in place of the absent Jackson Walls, while Cordell took the final point on offer after a final lap pass on Ptácek. Ptácek almost lost eleventh to de Wilde exiting the final turn but just held on by the narrowest of margins. Van der Helm ended down in thirteenth ahead of Toth and Piria.
Alatalo and de Gerus were both unclassified after early dramas, although the former was able to get back on track for a couple of laps at the end after his mechanics fixed his car.
Winning Drivers Reactions at the Nürburgring
Victor Martins (Saturday): “It’s a very good result following an excellent start to the weekend as the qualifying session highlighted it.
“I would like to thank the team for giving me an exceptional car for the race. It let me manage my pace calmly to first widen the gap, then concentrate on my driving and ensure ART Grand Prix its first victory in the category.
“The target will be to do exactly the same thing tomorrow and that will require above all a good start off the line like I did today!”
Victor Martins (Sunday): “This hat-trick is extremely important for the team, as is my first double win of the season. I am sure there will be more.
“We worked hard this summer to come back strong and the car was just amazing. Like yesterday, I only had to focus on the start and then manage my race lap after lap. This is the perfect result to reward the team.
“I always approach the races one at a time: we work, we analyse, we improve and we deliver. I think more about winning races than about the title and the target will be reached at the end if we continue like this.”