Whether in the wet or in the dry Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula) is the man to beat in the Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup. The Australian scored his fifth victory of the season after a good scrap with his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Formula). The Frenchman fought off the attacks of Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) and Roberto Merhi (Epsilon Euskadi) at the end of the race. Mehri grabbed third spot on the last lap thanks to a daring bit of driving.
Daniel Ricciardo set his sixth pole of the season and shared the front row with his team-mate Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula), while on the second were Jean-Eric Vergne and Roberto Mehri.
The track was damp but several drivers including Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi), Richard Campollo (Epsilon Euskadi), Maxime Jousse (Pole Service), Stéphane Richelmi (Epsilon Sport), Bastien Borget (Epsilon Sport) and Miko Monras (Hitech Junior team) stood out by opting for slicks!
Jean-Eric made a blinding start going from third to first. Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) also tried to find a way past but missed his braking for the first chicane. The rest of the pack got through without problems. At the end of the first lap the order was: Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Mathieu Arzeno, Tristan Vautier (SG Formula), Andrea Caldarelli and Roberto Mehri.
Vergne and Ricciardo, who were nose to tail, began to open up a small gap while Caldarelli tripped up and lost several places. The Italian’s mistake left Arzeno, Vautier and Mehri battling for third spot. The Spaniard managed to split the two Frenchmen after passing Vautier fourth time round.
Up front Ricciardo began to up the pressure on Vergne and both were using all the track and then some to try and find grip! The battle between the two SG drivers was a thrilling spectacle. Then Vergne braked a little too late and his Australian rival made his move. They took several corners side-by-side until Ricciardo finally hit the front on lap 10.
He went on to score his fifth victory of the season from his team-mate, Vergne, who was on the rostrum for the first time this year winning the FFSA French Formula Renault 2.0 Championship. But Jean-Eric had to fight off the attacks of Mathieu Arzeno and Roberto Mehri as the race neared its end. The Spaniard took third place in the last corner edging out Arzeno. David Zollinger (Palmyr team) won the Challenge Cup.
Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s been a long summer and I was hungry for victory. It was a long, tough race. Jean-Eric made a super start so I stayed behind him for a few laps to see where would be the best spot to overtake. It was very tight. He went a bit wide in the first chicane and I made my move. We took a few corners side by side; it was like driving karts!”
Jean-Eric Vergne: “It’s my first rostrum finish of the season, and I’m happy that it’s at Le Mans. For once I made a good start. When I was in front I made a few mistakes and Daniel got ahead of me. We then lifted off a little and the others took advantage to close the gap. The last lap was pretty hairy!”
Roberto Mehri: “I made a really bad getaway. After a few laps I upped the pace and at the end of the race I was the quickest driver on the track. I really went for it on the last lap. Since the restart I’ve finished all my races on the rostrum!”