Lorenzo Colombo confirmed himself as a Circuit Paul Ricard specialist by taking both race victories in the final event of the Formula Renault Eurocup era, but it was Victor Martins who will be celebrating most after clinching the title.
The Italian took both victories at Paul Ricard when Eurocup visited the track back in 2019, and he did so again this year, with Colombo also doubling up with pole positions as he did the year before. He was only denied both fastest laps by Caio Collet in race one, else he would have swept the whole Paul Ricard weekend for a second consecutive year.
But all eyes were on the title battle, with ART Grand Prix’s Martins finally taking the crown ahead of the charging Collet. There was also success in the Rookie standings for young Briton Alex Quinn, who took the title ahead of David Vidales despite not having been scheduled to race in the category 2020!
Nineteen Cars on the Grid as R-ace GP add Seppänen
It has been a busy few weeks for the Formula Renault Eurocup competitors, with four consecutive weekends of racing. The series took in Spa-Francorchamps, the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari and the Hockenheimring before arriving at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
There was one addition to the field for the final round of the Eurocup era, with R-ace GP adding Finnish racer Elias Seppänen to its line-up alongside the championship contender Collet and Russian racer Mikhael Belov.
Martins was still supported by Mercedes-Benz protégé Paul Aron and Swiss racer Grégoire Saucy as the Frenchman looked to secure the title. He came into the weekend forty-four points clear of Collet, knowing he only had to score seven points to become the series champion for 2020.
Colombo Takes Opening Win, Martins Secures Title
It has been a good couple of weeks for Colombo, with the Bhaitech Racing driver having taken a pole position and win at Imola, and he took top spot in Qualifying once more for race one in France.
The Italian finished 0.144 seconds clear of Martins, while Collet was three-tenths of a second back in third. The Brazilian shared the second row with Argentine racer Franco Colapinto of MP Motorsport, while row three was an all-rookie affair, Hadrien David ahead of Arden’s Quinn.
Colombo held onto the lead at the start, with Martins slipping into second. The Frenchman was unable to find a way ahead of the race leader and began slipping into the clutches of Collet, and the R-ace GP driver managed to get ahead of his championship rival.
However, he would need to take the win and hope for Martins to drop further down the field for him to take the title battle into the final race.
Martins did lose another spot to Colapinto, but fourth place at the chequered flag was enough for him to take the title in his third season in the category. Colombo held on for the race win – his second in succession, with Collet and Colapinto completing the podium.
A poor start cost David a chance of taking rookie honours, with the Frenchman falling down the order and allowing Quinn a free run to fifth, with Vidales recovering to sixth despite finishing behind Saucy on the road. Vidales was told by the stewards to yield a position to the Swiss racer, only for the stewards to reverse their decision post-race, promoting the Spaniard up one position.
Ugo de Wilde finished eighth for Arden ahead of David, while Aron claimed the final point on offer after profiting from a jump start penalty for Belov that relegated the Russian outside of the points.
But there were celebrations at ART Grand Prix, who added the Drivers’ title for Martins to the Teams’ title they won seven days ago at Imola.
Colombo Wins again to close out Formula Renault Eurocup Era
Colombo secured yet another pole position at Paul Ricard for the final race of the weekend, season and series, with the Italian beating Martins to top spot once more, this time by 0.198 seconds.
Collet was again third ahead of rookie champion-elect Quinn, with Colapinto and Saucy filling out the third row.
Colombo made a good start again to hold onto the lead, with Martins again slipping into second place. However, unlike in race one, the shackles were off for Martins, with the newly crowned champion eager to sign off with a victory.
However, it was not to be as he was unable to get close enough to Colombo to challenge, and it was the Italian who was able to sign off the season with a visit to the top step of the podium. His third consecutive victory also moved him up to fifth place in the championship standings.
Behind the leading duo, Colapinto completed the podium as he fended off the challenge of Collet, with the Brazilian ending a strong season with a fourth-place finish. He ultimately ended up forty-four points behind Martins in the standings, but his five race wins showed that the Renault Sport Academy have an up-and-coming star in their ranks.
After finishing fifth, there was also joy for Quinn, who clinched the rookies title. The Briton was only drafted into Arden after Jackson Walls was unable to compete due to travel restrictions enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, but he showed extreme pace throughout the year to merit taking the honours in the rookie battle.
Belov ended the year with a sixth-place finish for R-ace GP, with William Alatalo ending seventh for JD Motorsport ahead of guest driver Seppänen, with Vidales recovering to ninth after a poor opening lap that saw a number of cars making contact.
Amaury Cordeel finished tenth for FA Racing by Manor, while the final point went the way of de Wilde in eleventh as Seppänen was ineligible to score points in France.
Winner Drivers Reactions at Paul Ricard
Lorenzo Colombo (Saturday): “I’ve had a lot of success at this track the past two years! Most of the work has been done in qualifying as I put everything together to get pole.
“From there, I just had to manage my race even though Victor made a great start, but I managed to stay ahead at turn one to control the race. We have to do it again tomorrow. I hope it will be dry, but we will have to keep an eye on the weather!”
Lorenzo Colombo (Sunday): “It was a tough race, but I managed to win thanks to a perfect start! That makes it three victories in a row and four at this track. I am starting to love Circuit Paul Ricard.
“I would really like to congratulate the team for their work and our progress throughout the season. It’s great to end my fantastic experience in Formula Renault Eurocup on a high. I had a lot of fun while learning a lot and I would like to thank Renault for making me a more complete and more professional driver.
“Now let’s see what the future holds for me as I’m ready to seize every opportunity, whether in GT, prototypes or F3!”