Paul Ricard HTTT-Race 2
Robin Frijns (Josef Kaufmann Racing) brought the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship race to an abrupt end by winning Race 2 on Sunday ahead of title rival Carlos Sainz Jr (Koiranen Motorsport), giving him an unassailable lead. Last season's Formula BMW Europe champion, the 20-year-old Dutchman has now added another landmark achievement to his increasingly impressive CV.Needing to beat Frijns to keep his title hopes alive going into the final meeting in Barcelona, Sainz Jr pushed himself to the limit in a wet qualifying session to take pole ahead of the championship leader.The track had mostly dried out by the time the race got under way, the Spaniard making a clean start to lead the field from Frijns, John Bryant Meisner (Koiranen Motorsport), Stoffel Vandoorne (KTR) and Oscar Andres Tunjo (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Sainz Jr set a consistent pace, though Frijns stayed in touch, poised to pounce on the slightest error. Behind them Bryant Meisner kept the rest of the field at bay, while Vandoorne, Tunjo, Timmy Hansen (Interwetten.com Junior Team), Norman Nato (R-Ace Grand Prix) and Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) contested the minor placings.With Frijns sticking to Sainz Jr's tail, Hansen made a move, easing past Tunjo and into fifth and then joining Bryant Meisner and Vandoorne in a closely fought battle for third. The Colombian was going backwards, however, as both Nato and Kvyat ducked past him.Cranking up the pressure at the front, Frijns forced the smallest of errors from Sainz Jr and slipped into the lead on lap six, a move that put the title within his grasp. The Spaniard nevertheless refused to give up, launching several attacks in the laps that followed, while Kvyat got the better of Hansen to close right up and Vandoorne and Bryant Meisner.There was no shortage of excitement in the closing laps as Sainz Jr probed the leader's defences, and Bryant Meisner, Vandoorne and Kvyat took turn one side by side, the Russian executing the perfect braking manoeuvre to jump from fifth to third in one fell swoop, with Nato also finding some late pace to nose past Hansen into fourth.
The final lap saw the Koiranen Motorsport duo pull out all the stops, though Frijns held on for his fifth win of the season to seal the championship one round early, take the EUR500,000 prize and bag a drive in next year's Formula Renault 3.5. Sainz Jr came home second, with Kvyat rounding off the 1-2-3.What they said: Robin Frijns : "I really wasn't expecting to win the title this year. This is my team's first year in the series and the level is very high, especially among the Red Bull Junior Team drivers. I struggled a little at the start of the year, but we really got it together from Hungary onwards. It was an intense race, but now I can start working on next season. We need to come up with a budget, but getting a drive in FR 3.5 Series is obviously going to be an objective."
Carlos Sainz Jr: "Congratulations to Robin. He did a super job. We've come close this season and that's always shown on the track. I really am a bit disappointed today but overall I can only be happy with my season. There's still plenty of work to do because I have to defend my second place from Daniil Kvyat."
Daniil Kvyat: "I started 14th and finished third, so it's one of the best races of my career. I can't wait to get to Barcelona now, and I'm going to do everything I can to make it into second. It's been a good weekend for me."