Laurent Hurgon (LSGROUP Autosport GP) and Ugo de Wilde (Herrero Racing) shared the victories in a top-shelf meeting to kick-off season four of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup. Ugo de Wilde leaves Nogaro leading the general classification, but the gaps are extremely tight both on the track and in the points!
Nineteen competitors were at Nogaro for the first round of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup season. The Autosport GP team set the pace straight away with Lilou Wadoux and Laurent Hurgon on Friday before Jean-Baptiste Mela dominated the two Saturday sessions.
RACE 1: HURGON IN CONTROL
The supremacy of Gilles Zaffini's drivers came to an end in the Gers mist on Sunday morning during qualifying. Ugo de Wilde set the best time ahead of Laurent Hurgon and Lilou Wadoux.
Lined up on the outside of row one, Laurent Hurgon got the better launch to take the lead of the race ahead of Ugo de Wilde, while Corentin Tierce (Herrero Racing) moved past Lilou Wadoux for third place as Simon Tirman (Autosport GP) looked on. Sixth on the grid, Jean-Baptiste Mela went wide onto the grass and fell behind Louis Méric (Meric Compétition) and Gosia Rdest (Chazel Technologie Course).
Following a few laps of observation that allowed them to pull away from the field, Ugo de Wilde mounted the pressure on Laurent Hurgon. Lilou Wadoux made a strong impression in retaking third place on lap six before reducing the gap to the leaders.
The race order stayed pat just until the finish. Laurent Hurgon scored his second victory in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup ahead of a quartet of Junior category drivers involving Ugo de Wilde, Lilou Wadoux, Corentin Tierce and Louis Méric in this order. After his pass of Simon Tirman on lap seven, Jean-Baptiste Mela finished sixth ahead of his team-mate and Gosia Rdest.
Moving into the lead of the Gentleman category at the start, Franck Labescat (Race Cars Consulting) took the win ahead of Philippe Bourgois (Chazel Technologie Course) and Luc Rozentvaig (BL Sport), who both moved up a spot following the accident of Stéphane Auriacombe (Herrero Racing) on the penultimate lap of the race.
RACE 2: DE WILDE STRIKES BACK
More competitive than the first, the second qualifying session saw Ugo de Wilde claim his second pole position of the weekend for just 0.018s ahead of Lilou Wadoux and a little more than a tenth of a second from Laurent Hurgon.
In contrast to the day before, Ugo de Wilde held on to the lead against Lilou Wadoux and Laurent Hurgon in a field marked by contact between Franck Labescat and Thomas Dagoneau (Autosport GP).
Despite constant pressure from Lilou Wadoux, Ugo de Wilde didn't waiver and built up a small lead. Further back in the field, Louis Méric attacked Laurent Hurgon, but his attempt played into the hands of Jean-Baptiste Mela, who moved up to fourth.
Ugo de Wilde took the win in race 2 in his first meeting in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup, while Lilou Wadoux had to settle for second place and the fastest lap in the race. Laurent Hurgon fended off the hard-charging Jean-Baptiste Mela, who started seventh, to secure his place on the podium.
Louis Méric came home fifth ahead of Corentin Tierce, Simon Tirman and Gosia Rdest, who made her way around Manu Guigou (Chazel Technologie Course) on lap five. Tenth overall, Stéphane Auriacombe held off a late charge from Philippe Bourgois to take the honours in the Gentlemen category while Pierre Macchi (Patrick Roger Autosport GP) completed the podium in the class.
Also at Nogaro, two of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup’s former standouts scored a resounding double win in the French FFSA GT Championship with the Alpine A110 GT4 entrusted to Gaël Castelli, winner in 2019, and Rodolphe Wallgren.
The Alpine Elf Europa Cup will head next to Circuit Magny-Cours (7-9 May) for the second round of the 2021 season.
Laurent Hurgon (Race 1 winner)
"I am extremely happy with my weekend. The aim was to get as many points as possible, and I did that in this first race. The season promises to be intense as the gaps are so close, and it will be a question of technical details and driving. There is nothing more rewarding for the drivers and the teams. I am already looking forward to Magny-Cours!”
Ugo de Wilde (Race 2 winner, leader of the general classification)
"It was a very positive weekend. We were a bit frustrated on Sunday not to convert our pole position into a win, but we did it on Monday. I managed to be consistent and not make any mistakes despite the pressure from Lilou, who gave me a lot of trouble. It's a good start, but the season is still long, and the level is very high, so we will have to continue in this direction."
Lilou Wadoux (third in the general classification)
"I'm a bit disappointed to leave Nogaro without a win, but we were fast all weekend. My experience from last year and the excellent work of the team have allowed me to raise my game a notch this year. It's positive, especially as we know we should be fast at Magny-Cours.”
Franck Labescat (Race 1 Gentlemen category winner)
"I was a bit behind in free practice, but it all clicked when I found the right setup in qualifying. The start was lively with four abreast, but I was able to take the lead over Stéphane while keeping pace with Gosia. The car was sliding a lot at the end and Stéphane was right off my back bumper before going off. It's a shame because I would have liked to share the podium with him after this great battle!"
Stéphane Auriacombe (Race 2 Gentlemen category winner)
"The season is going to be very exciting this year! Perhaps I should have lifted off at the lake corner exit on Sunday. The team worked until five in the morning to fix the car, but it paid off, and I made up for it on Monday. All's well that ends well, and I'm going to have a great week!”
Philippe Bourgois (Gentlemen category leader)
"I am leaving with a lot of points from my two runner-up places even if a famous driver once said that it is the worst position to finish! It was a little frustrating on Monday as my pace seemed better than Stéphane's, but overtaking is so difficult at Nogaro. In any case, this weekend bodes well for some great battles!"