Paul Ricard HTTT proves to be a star attraction for World Series by Renault
The Paul Ricard HTTT pulled the crowds back in last weekend, as 60,000 race fans flocked to the three-day meeting, making light of some inclement weather on Sunday. It was the biggest attendance seen at the French track since the final round of the 1998 Renault Championships. Renault COO Carlos Tavares was in attendance as the fans lapped up the action on the track and the numerous attractions laid on in the tented village, with the F1 exhibition by father-and-son duo Alain and Nicolas Prost proving one of the highlights of a memorable event. Patrice Ratti, Managing Director, Renault Sport Technologies : "Everyone's agreed that this weekend at the Paul Ricard HTTT has been a success. Bearing in mind Renault's long links with this track, which is a Mecca of motorsport, we are delighted to have played our part in welcoming the fans back. They all looked delighted to be here and we've had a lot of positive feedback, especially after the thrilling F1 exhibition by Alain Prost in the Renault RE40 he drove to victory here in 1983, and Nicolas Prost in the Lotus Renault GP R30. We can't wait to meet up again at Barcelona because the Formula Renault 3.5 Series couldn't be any more exciting. With only two points separating Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne we should be in for a grandstand finish. Congratulations to Robin Frijns for his Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title and to Nicolas Milan, the maiden Eurocup Clio champion. It also meant a lot to us to have Renault COO Carlos Tavares here. He was very appreciative of the quality of the racing and the organisation. He's a driver and a fan too, and he completed a few laps in the F1 Renault RS01 back at the start of the turbo era. The calendar for 2012 hasn't been finalised yet, but the Paul Ricard HTTT has staked a serious claim to stage a leg of the World Series by Renault once again. Well done to the track and the local authorities. This first has been a success." Formula Renault 3.5 Series: Home support inspires Vergne revival Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed an almost perfect weekend, securing two pole positions, one race win and a third place to cut the gap on championship leader Robert Wickens to a mere two points. "It's always an emotional moment when you hear La Marseillaise booming out on home soil," said the young Red Bull Junior Team driver. "I'll remember Saturday's victory for a long time, especially as it got me back into the championship race. It was all set up for me to win on Sunday, but I had a problem in the pits and it cost me the win. That's racing, but with my team-mate only finishing 19th, things still worked out well for me." Showing plenty of pace in Sunday's qualifying session, America's Alexander Rossi topped the podium in Race 2, his second win of the season, while Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo came home second in his farewell race in the discipline. "I won't be at Barcelona because I'll be racing for HRT at the Japanese Grand Prix," commented the Australian. "I wanted to leave the World Series by Renault on a high note, and I've had some great times in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the FR 3.5 Series. My thanks to everyone. This is where I earned my place in F1." Race 1 : 1st - J.E. Vergne, FRA (Carlin); 2nd - R. Wickens, CAN, (Carlin); 3rd - B. Hartley, NZ (Gravity-Charouz) Race 2 : 1st - A. Rossi, USA (Fortec Motorsports); 2nd - D. Ricciardo, AUS (ISR); 3rd - J.E. Vergne, FRA (Carlin) Overall standings : 1st - R. Wickens, 216 pts; 2nd - J.E. Vergne, 214 pts; 3rd - D. Ricciardo, 144 pts Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0: Frijns seals the title Taking another step forward in his increasingly impressive career, Paul-Loup Chatin rose to the occasion at the Paul Ricard HTTT, building on his first top-three finish at Silverstone a few weeks ago to claim a maiden pole position and race win in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, all on home soil. "This is the perfect place to get my first victory," said the Frenchman. "We've worked really hard for this with my team. My goal now is to win some more races this season and then come back even stronger next year and take the title." The man of the weekend, however, was Robin Frijns, who won an exciting second race to clinch the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 crown one round early. Race 1 : 1st - P.L. Chatin, FRA (Tech 1 Racing); 2nd - D. Kvyat, RUS (Koiranen Motorsport); 3 - C. Sainz Jr, ESP (Koiranen Motorsports) Race 2: 1st - R. Frijns, NED; 2nd - C. Sainz Jr, ESP (Koiranen Motorsports); 3 - D. Kvyat, RUS (Koiranen Motorsport) Overall standings : 1st - R. Frijns, 223 pts; 2nd - C. Sainz Jr, 164 pts; 3 - D. Kvyat, 140 pts Eurocup Megane Trophy: Schothorst ruffles Comini's feathers After making sure of the championship in double-quick time at Silverstone, Stefano Comini was given an uncomfortable weekend by the in-form Bas Schothorst, who secured a one-two in qualifying and stormed to victory in Race 1, his first win in the discipline and the first for TDS Racing this season. "It's a relief," said the delighted Dutchman afterwards. "I could have won a few races this season but I've had no luck at all. I really feel it's a weight off my shoulders and now I can relax." Champion Comini missed his first podium of the season after incurring a stop-and-go penalty, with Grégory Guilvert and Fabien Thuner taking second and third respectively. Comini got back to winning ways the following day, notching victory number 10 of the campaign after his gamble to switch to slicks mid-race on a still-damp track paid off. "I don't like the rain that much," said the Swiss. "It wasn't easy to stay on the track because it was still a bit wet, but I'm happy with this 10th win." Schothorst finished second to complete a highly profitable weekend, with Guilvert third. Race 1 : 1st - B. Schothorst, NED (TDS Racing); 2nd - G. Guilvert, FRA (Team Lompech Sport); 3 - F. Thuner, SUI (Boutsen Energy Racing) Race 2 : 1st - S. Comini, SUI; 2nd - B. Schothorst, NED; 3rd - G. Guilvert, FRA Overall standings : 1st - S. Comini, 275 pts; 2nd - N. Nalio, 161 pts; 3rd - B. Schothorst, 141 pts Eurocup Clio: Milan claims inaugural Eurocup Clio Nicolas Milan seemed all set for his fourth win of the season in Race 1 on Saturday only for the safety car to put in an appearance, allowing the chasing pack to close right up on the Frenchman with just one lap remaining. Seizing his unexpected opportunity, Massimiliano Pedala stole up on the leader and forced his way past as the finish line approached. "I won here back in 1998 in the final round of Renault Championships," commented the Italian. "I didn't get a drive last year because I could get any sponsors, so it's a return to racing for me in what is an ultra-competitive discipline. It was a very exciting win for me." There were no such late surprises in store for Milan on Sunday. Leading from start to finish, he collected the points he needed to become the first winner of the Eurocup Clio. "I can't wait for next season to come around and to compete in the Eurocup Megane Trophy," said Milan, who also won the French Clio Cup a few weeks ago. Race 1 : 1st - M. Pedala, ITA (Rangoni Motorsports); 2nd - N. Milan, FRA (Milan Compétition); 3rd - Y. Baziret, FRA (Set Up Racing) Race 2 : 1st - N. Milan, FRA (Milan Compétition); 2nd - M. Pedala, ITA (Rangoni Motorsports); 3rd - S. di Luca, ITA (Rangoni Motorsports) Overall standings : 1st - N. Milan, 136 pts; 2nd - M. Verschuur, 78 pts; 3rd - M. Pedala, 63 pts Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS: Chatin sweeps the board Not content with his brilliant Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 display, Paul-Loup Chatin also stamped his authority in Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS. The Frenchman completed comfortable wins in both the weekend's races, with Javier Tarancon and Vittorio Ghirelli sharing the other two places on the podium. Chatin's one-two takes him to the top of the overall standings ahead of the final Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS leg of the season at Spa-Francorchamps. Race 1 : 1st - P.L. Chatin, FRA (Tech 1 Racing); 2nd - J. Tarancon, ESP (Tech 1 Racing); 3rd - V. Ghirelli, ITA (One Racing) Race 2: 1st - P.L. Chatin, FRA (Tech 1 Racing); 2nd - V. Ghirelli, ITA (One Racing); 3rd - J. Tarancon, ESP (Tech 1 Racing) Overall standings : 1st - P.L. Chatin, 306 pts; 2nd - J. Tarancon, 304 pts; 3rd - Y. Zimmer, 286 pts Next meeting: Barcelona, Spain, 8-9 October 2011.