Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 - Le Mans - Race 2
Van Dam right back in it
Thanks to his first win of the season, Dutch driver Carlo Van Dam now lies just four points behind Chris Van der Drift in the Eurocup championship standings. The SG Formula team had a superb one-two, as Yann Clairay finished runner-up. The final podium place went to Nelson Panciatici (Epsilon-Euskadi).
Whereas Carlo Van Dam got off to the perfect start, Tom Dillmann was left stranded on the grid. Predictably enough, the first time through the Dunlop chicane led to a collision which took out Johan Charpilienne, Salman Al Khalifa and Kasper Andersen.
The safety car was brought out at the end of the first lap. Dani Clos (Jenzer Motorsport) came in to the pits with his car clearly damaged. Van Dam was leading at this stage from Yann Clairay, Chris Van der Drift (JD Motorsport), Nelson Panciatici, Bertrand Baguette (Epsilon-Euskadi), Atte Mustonen (Jenzer Motorsport), Martin Plowman (Prema Powerteam), Laurent Groppi (Graff Racing), Henkie Waldschmidt (Prema Powerteam) and Brendon Hartley (Motorsport Arena).
The race resumed at the end of lap three. The two SG Formula drivers immediately moved clear. Van der Drift was being put under pressure by Panciatici, Baguette and Mustonen. A little further back, Groppi was holding off Plowman.
The end of the fifth lap was utter chaos. ‘Pancia' finally managed to find a way past. Whilst trying to hold him off, Van der Drift span, allowing Mustonen, Baguette, Plowman and Groppi to get past!
Nelson Panciatici then pulled clear of the chasing pack, in which Van der Drift was gradually falling further back.
On lap 8, there was a collision involving Chris Van der Drift and three Red Bull drivers, for whom the race ended there: Filipe Albuquerque, Jaime Alguersuari and Brendon Hartley. At the same time, Stefano Coletti (Motopark Academy) and Edoardo Mortara (Prema Powerteam) ran into each other. Coletti was forced to retire, but Mortara continued to race with a damaged nose cone. The safety car had to be called out for a second time, meaning that the field bunched up.
The race resumed with three laps to go. Nelson Panciatici handled the restart poorly, allowing the two SG Formula drivers to move clear. Laurent Groppi, however, attacked and passed Baguette on the Dunlop chicane.
Despite his damaged car, Edoardo Mortara managed to take 9th place from Oliver Oakes, and then 8th from Henkie Waldschmidt. On the last lap, Laurent Groppi found a way past Atte Mustonen and moved up to fourth. Martin Plowman rounded off a good overall result for Prema Powerteam by scoring his first points of the season.
Carlo Van Dam: «We've worked very hard with the team since last year. This weekend, we started well with a good qualifying performance. The race was difficult but the car was good. I have enjoyed working with Yann again.»
Yann Clairay: «It's fantastic to finish on the podium at home, and in what is my only race of the season. I made a great start and we were both able to pull away. Carlo was the quickest today.»
Nelson Panciatici: «To have made into onto the podium in my first Eurocup meeting is very satisfying. I made a good start and made sure of third place after getting past Van der Drift. The first two drivers were the quickest.»
More releases from Le MansPresentation - Groppi steps into the fray
Qualifying - Van Dam hits hard
Race 1 - Baguette rises to the occasion
Race 2 - Van Dam right back in it
Classifications from Le MansQualifying 1