Race 1 in the Eurocup Clio came down to a single lap, with the arrival of the safety car checking Nicolas Milan's (Milan Compétition) seemingly regal progress to his fourth win of the campaign and giving Massimiliano Pedala (Rangoni Motorsport) the chance to move into his slipstream and snatch the lead on the final lap. It was the Italian's first win in the series, Pedala topping the podium ahead of Milan and the impressive Yoann Baziret (Set-Up Racing).
Milan Compétition had got their tactics just right in qualifying, taking full advantage of the slipstreaming that makes the Eurocup Clio such a special event to catapult Nicolas Milan to his third pole of the season, ahead of team-mates Thibault Bossy and Marc Guillot. Fastest in Friday's collective testing, Massimiliano Pedala was the best of the rest.
Making the perfect getaway from the front of the grid, Milan led the way from Guillot, Pedala, Simone di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport) and Robert Van den Berg (Harders Plaza Racing). After qualifying in a lowly ninth, Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur) jumped up to seventh by the end of lap one, while Bossy suffered more than anyone in what was a frenetic start.Milan came under early pressure from team-mate Guillot, who then lost second place to Pedala, the result of the perfect braking manoeuvre on the part of the Italian. As Milan pulled clear, Pedala, Guillot and Di Luca were left in a thrilling three-way tussle for second, with no quarter given as the race neared its end.Up ahead, the championship leader's smooth progress to another victory was rudely interrupted by the entrance of the safety car following an incident at the back of the field involving Ruud Steenmetz (Team Bleekemolen) and Daniele Pasquali (Composit Motorsport).When the race resumed there was a solitary lap left to run, but what a lap it turned out to be. First, Guillot and Di Luca collided and plunged down the race order, and then Pedala got a jump on Milan at the Chicane Nord, shooting out of his slipstream to claim a thrilling win. Taking third behind Milan was Baziret, with Verschuur coming home in fourth.What they said: Massimiliano Pedala: "I didn't get a drive last year because I could get any sponsors, so it's a return to competitive driving for me this year, and with the level this high it's not that easy. I'm thrilled because I won here back in 1998 in the final round of Renault championship. It's fantastic to win here again today."
Nicolas Milan : "Pedala did what he had to do. He attacked me and I didn't want to take any risks as we don't know each other that well. That's why I decided to leave a bit of a gap because I didn't want to lose everything."
Yoann Baziret: "I only found out on Monday that I'd be taking part in the race. I drive for an amateur team and my brother set the car up for me. It's my first Eurocup Clio, and it's very competitive. This is brilliant. It warms your heart to finish on the podium at the Paul Ricard HTTT in front of all these fans."