Gilles Magnus signed off with victory in the final Formula Renault Northern European Cup race of the weekend at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, handing the R-Ace GP driver a narrow advantage in the standings heading to the finale at Hockenheim in a fortnight.
Erstwhile championship leader and teammate Michael Benyahia emerged on top of the dice for second, and sits best placed to take the fight to Magnus in Germany, a mere five points adrift.
R-Ace GP completed a near-clean sweep of podium finishes with Théo Coicaud in third, underlining their position as the team to beat around the 4.3 mile circuit.
The duo had fought for a second earlier in the race after Coicaud bested Benyahia at the start but, with the championship finale growing ever close, Benyahia re-passed his team-mate
BM Racing’s Bartek Mirecki came close to challenging Coicaud for third, but despite closing the gap to less than two tenths of a second in the closing stages of the race he was unable to find a route past.
His pace, however, was undeniable as he recovered from early contact on the exit of La Source at the start to take the fight to the R-Ace GP trio.
Charles Milesi suffered contrasting fate to that of his teammates, losing the car of the exit of Turn 10 and colliding with Luis Leeds before hitting the barrier. Though Milesi fortunately emerged unharmed, the resulting suspension damage forced him into an early retirement.
For Magnus, however, the opportunity to race after being cleared by medical officials on Sunday morning may well prove crucial to the outcome of this year’s NEC title fight.
The championship reconvenes at Hockenheim on the 6th-7th October for the decisive final double-header.
Live stream coverage will be available via YouTube, with updates also available on the official championship Twitter account (@FRNECUP) along with behind-the-scenes coverage via Facebook and Instagram.
Gilles Magnus said, “I thought I wouldn’t be driving today, because the car was completely destroyed and I wasn’t sure if I would be fit enough after the accident yesterday, but we drove the race and won the race which was amazing. I drove a calm race, I let the Eurocup guys past because I just wanted to take the points for the NEC championship. It’s been a special weekend.”
Michael Benyahia said, “I made a few mistakes at the start and that’s where I lost out the most, I just had too much wheelspin, but it was good to fight back through to second. Getting points for the NEC to stay up there at the top and try to win the championship is the important thing. Going to Hockenheim I need to beat Gilles and try to get first place in the championship back.”
Théo Coicaud said, “I made quite a good start, I gained three or four places and then after that I was always fighting with my teammate Michael – it was a good race and the car was really stable through all of the corners, so I was pretty happy! I need to keep getting results like this, let’s see what happens at Hockenheim.”
Charles Milesi said, “There was a car on the inside of me and I think he had understeer, so it pushed me on the outside and I got on the astroturf, after that I spun. I’m all okay though.”