Round four of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup at Silverstone will be remembered for the brace of victories for Oliver Webb (Racing Technology), who was invited to get behind the wheel of the Alpine A110 Cup race car. Gaël Castelli (Milan Compétition) finished both races on the podium, as did Vincent Beltoise (CMR), who is now back in the chase for the title.
Two weeks after Signatech Alpine Matmut’s third place in the 6-Hours of Silverstone, Alpine returned to the legendary British circuit with the Alpine Elf Europa Cup. The return to competition was also a chance to welcome to new drivers : Gaël Castelli and Oliver Webb.
RACE 1: WEBB WINS IN HIS FIRST GO
Pole winner, Oliver Webb put in a textbook start, which wasn’t the case for Pierre Sancinéna (CMR), who dropped from second to seventh place. Vincent Beltoise moved up to second ahead of Julien Neveu (Autosport GP), who started sixth. Further back it was Sylvain Noël (Racing Technology) in front of Gaël Castelli and Jean-Baptiste Méla (Autosport GP). Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition), Thomas Padovani (Milan Compétition) and Mathieu Blaise (Racing Technology) completed the top ten.
While there was little change in the running order, the action heated up when Gaël Castelli made his way past Sylvain Noël. Jean-Baptiste Méla tried to do the same, but the Gentleman driver resisted and forced the youngest driver in the field to make five more attempts before he finally made the pass. Further back, Thomas Padovani surprised Nicolas Milan, but Milan didn’t waste any time in answering back. Discreet until now, Pierre Sancinéna also picked up his pace to overtake Sylvain Noël.
In the final laps of the race, the battle for the podium was back on. Penalised for not respecting track limits, Julien Neveu did a fine job to hold off Gaël Castelli.
In the lead from start to finish, Oliver Webb took a comfortable win ahead of Vincent Beltoise. Behind, Gaël Castelli and Jean-Baptiste Méla passed Julien Neveu on the last lap. After the penalties were distributed, the driver-engineer dropped to seventh place behind Pierre Sancinéna and Sylvain Noël. Nicolas Milan, Mathieu Blaise and Thomas Padovani finished in the top ten in front of Pierre Macchi (Autosport GP) and Franc Rouxel (Racing Technology), who joined Sylvain Noël on the Gentleman driver podium.
RACE 2: WEBB DOUBLES UP
Once again on pole, Oliver Webb was this time surprised by Gaël Castelli, who got past on the outside of turn one. Vincent Beltoise and Julien Neveu remained in the hunt behind the leading duo, while Pierre Sancinéna plummeted down the order when he was overtaken by Sylvain Noël, Laurent Hurgon, Jean-Baptiste Méla, Nicolas Milan and Matthieu Blaise. Thomas Padovani was the only victim of this intense opening lap.
Race leader Gaël Castelli was being menaced by Oliver Webb, who was preparing a counter-attack by testing the French driver’s limits in each braking zone.
Quickly, the situation stabilized, but Nicolas Milan was the first to go on the offensive in taking seventh place from Jean-Baptiste Méla. The second half of the race featured more action when Pierre Sancinéna rid himself of Mathieu Blaise, a lap before Nicolas Milan and Jean-Baptiste Méla overtook Laurent Hurgon.
The decisive moment of the race came on lap eight. Oliver Webb attacked Gaël Castelli, who resisted just until Copse, when the British driver took command of the race.
From there the order remained the same and Oliver Webb took his second win of the weekend ahead of Gaël Castelli and Vincent Beltoise. Julien Neveu held on to fourth place in front of Nicolas Milan, who won his battle with Sylvain Noël on the penultimate lap. Jean-Baptiste Méla, Laurent Hurgon, Pierre Sancinéna and Mathieu Blaise rounded out the top ten. Sylvain Noël was, once again, joined on the Gentleman driver podium by Franc Rouxel and Pierre Macchi.
Pierre Sancinéna still leads the Alpine Elf Europa Cup general classification, but the Normandy native is just 22 points ahead of Vincent Beltoise. Nicolas Milan and Sylvain Noël are still in the hunt at just four points adrift of Vincent Beltoise. The next round will take place at Spa-Francorchamps on September 23 and 24.
Oliver Webb (winner races 1 & 2)
“It was an excellent weekend. I love Silverstone and this was the opportunity to be back with Alpine, Philippe Sinault and other folks I know very well. I drove the Alpine A110 Cup car for the first time on Friday and was on top in the first session. I immediately liked its very lively, but extremely well-balanced handling. Of all the cars I have driven in my career, it is one of the best for learning how to control a car. There are many talented drivers in this category and the racing is very clean. I want to thank the team for the great job they did in allowing me to get such great results on the track.”
Vincent Beltoise (2nd race 1 & 3rd race 2)
“This was my best weekend of the year, better than Castellet because I finished on the podium twice! Thanks to the changes made by Alpine on the A110 Cup, we were able to do more work and it was noticeable over the three days. The field keeps getting stronger with the presence of Oliver Webb and Gaël Castelli. This gave me extra motivation to push for those extra tenths of a second in the extremely competitive qualifying sessions. In the race, the car was very consistent and I was able to score a lot of points to go from fifth to second in the general classification. These results give me confidence for the next two rounds!”
Gaël Castelli (2nd race 2 & 3rd race 1)
“This weekend, my main objective was to learn the Alpine A11O Cup, because I am going to finish the year in the Nicolas Milan squad, as I prepare for next year. The challenge was all the more difficult as I had to re-learn the Silverstone circuit that has changed a lot since the last time I was here in 2009. I was presently surprised in terms of feeling. It is a car that sticks to the ground, extremely nice to drive and very well-balanced. Other aspects like the ABS, steering-wheel dashboard, prize structure and the very attractive calendar are all tremendous assets for the category. Even though Oliver knew how to spot my weakness and seized his chance on Sunday, my best lap showed that I was a little faster than he was late in the race. I certainly didn’t want to take too big if a risk because I wasn’t eligible to score points. Now, I am turning towards Spa to continue my learning phase, while also hoping to have the same success!”