Sacha Fenestraz took a triumphant double after a controlled performance rewarded him with victory in the second Formula Renault Northern European Cup race at the Nurburgring.
The Josef Kaufmann Racing driver made a perfect start and led from lights-to-flag, managing a safety car restart and the gap to Tech1 racer Gabriel Aubry to complete a perfect weekend with pole position and both race wins.
Aubry took his first podium of the weekend in second, some four seconds adrift, and with it claimed the championship lead by a slender two-point margin over R-Ace GP’s Gilles Magnus.
The Frenchman claimed the runner-up spot after dicing side-by-side with Red Bull-backed Arden racer Daniel Ticktum through the Mercedes Arena complex, eventually scything his way through on the exit of Turn 3.
Ticktum’s race would unravell seconds later as contact was made with Thomas Neubauer (Tech1), sending the latter into a barrell roll and into the barrier. Neubauer was luckily unharmed, but the incident necessitated a red-flag stoppage whilst Ticktum fell to the rear of the field.
Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) claimed the headlines after the restart with two bold moves on Charles Milesi (R-Ace GP) and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (JD Motorsport) to take third, and with it secure Josef Kaufmann Racing’s second double podium finish of the weekend.
The pass on Simmenauer for third in the closing stages was inspired, with Ye feigning to the outside line into the final chicane before cutting back to the inside and diving through on the brakes.
That left Simmenauer to settle for fourth on the road ahead of the R-Ace GP trio – Michael Benyahia, erstwhile championship leader Magnus and Milesi – in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
James Pull (Arden) completed his debut weekend in the series with a pair of top-ten finishes in ninth behind Thomas Maxwell (Tech1), whilst Luis Leeds (Josef Kaufmann Racing) proved unable to repeat his overtaking heroics from the day before and rounded out the top ten.
Bartek Mirecki (BM Motorsport) was classified 11th, and with a 20-point deficit to the standings lead after missing the opportunity to capitalise on a below-par weekend for Magnus he will look to make up lost ground at Spa-Francorchamps next week.
Ticktum was eventually classified 13th after failing to stage a comeback, some two seconds adrift of R-Ace GP’s Théo Coicaud.
Sun Yue Yang rounded out the classification in the second JD Motorsport machine.
The Formula Renault NEC heads next to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on September 23-24.
With a hat-trick of races set to take place on the famous 4.3 mile Belgian Grand Prix venue, the championship battle looks set to intensify yet again in the Ardennes Forest.
Sacha Fenestraz said, “I think it’s one of the first times I’ve dominated all of the weekend, I think we were really fast this weekend and the team, like always, have done an amazing job so thanks to them! The car was just amazing, I’ve done quite a good job with the team and also my team-mate Yifei did an amazing job for his first year. The team was fast, we were fast so at the end the results were there.”
Gabriel Aubry said, “I’m more pleased with the second race than the first, because I didn’t get the qualifying I had wanted, so I started pretty far away from the podium. But I’m delighted with today because we needed to work on our pace because we were obviously slower than Sacha. It’s all in the details, we have quite a good base and now it’s all about working on it to get faster for the next part of the season.”
Yifei Ye said, “After a great result yesterday in second, today I had to start from seventh – the mindset was to finish on the podium but I thought it would be hard – here at Nurburgring it’s not easy to overtake. After the red flag there was only fifteen minutes left and I still had three cars to overtake to get to the podium. I managed to pass one car into Turn 1 on the safety car restart. I spent too much time behind slower cars, eventually I got through but I lost too much time to catch the guys ahead but my pace was quite good so I’m happy about that.”
RESULT – FORMULA RENAULT NEC (ROUND 6 – NURBURGRING)
1 Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) – 13 laps
2 Gabriel Aubry (Tech1 Racing) +4.318s
3 Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) +10.547s
4 Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (JD Motorsport) +12.855s
5 Michael Benyahia (R-ace GP) +15.275s
6 Gilles Magnus (R-ace GP) +17.567s
7 Charles Milesi (R-ace GP) +19.471s
8 Thomas Maxwell (Tech1 Racing) +19.626s
9 James Pull (Arden International) +22.160s
10 Luis Leeds (Josef Kaufmann Racing) +23.287s
11 Bartek Mirecki (BM Racing Team) +26.337s
12 Théo Coicaud (R-ace GP) +28.414s
13 Daniel Ticktum (Arden International) +30.897s
14 Sun Yue Yang (JD Motorsport) +1 lap.
DNF Thomas Neubauer (Tech1 Racing)