Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) took home the victory at a wet and slippery Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. In this weekend’s first race of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, the Briton became the first driver to score his season’s third victory. Eight seconds behind Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing) took a fighting second place. Australian James Allen (JD Motorsport) realised his first podium in Formula Renault with third. Local hero Max Defourny (R-ace GP) ended the first race of the weekend in the pitlane with a mechanical problem.
Defourny’s unlucky streak already started in the soaking wet qualifying sessions, which were red flagged because of accidents two times. The interruptions prevented the Belgian from completing a full lap to qualify for the first race of the weekend. With no time set, Defourny started from the back, battled his way up to 16th, but a power loss and several pit stops ended his charge with 24th and no points.
Will Palmer (R-ace GP), Pietro Peccenini (TS Corse), and Bruno Baptista (Fortec Motorsports) did not even start the race. With a typical Spa downpour hitting the qualifying sessions several drivers went off. But their damaged cars could not be fixed in the short break between qualifying and race.
NORRIS FAULTLESS FROM LIGHTS TO FINISH
Starting from pole position, Lando Norris held off Dorian Boccolacci, who tried a move on the inside of the La Source hairpin to head the field after lap one Further down the field, Belgian newcomer Ghislain Cordeel (JD Motorsport) crashed at the Les Combes chicane and brought out the safety car. Norris managed the restart to perfection and pulled away for his third victory of the season. The 16-year-old also won the Rookie class.
His second place finish moved Dorian Boccolacci back into the championship lead. James Allen closed the gap to the Frenchman in the final two laps, but Boccolacci defended his position. The Australian still was pleased to score his first podium in Formula Renault. It was also the first podium for JD Motorsport since the Italian team reentered the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup this season.
GILL AND CHAVES STAR IN THE WET
Both Alex Gill (Mark Burdett Motorsport) and Henrique Chaves (AVF by Adrián Vallés) used the difficult conditions to come to the fore and score their best results yet with fourth and fifth.
Robert Shwartzman (Josef Kaufmann Racing) finished sixth, ahead of his teammate, Jehan Daruvala. The Force India junior driver started the race as the championship leader, but lost his advantage to Boccolacci. The Indian also has to start the second race from the back. Daruvala fell foul of red flags in the second qualifying session in the same way Defourny did in the first.
Julien Falchero (R-ace GP) crossed the line in eighth place, ahead of championship debutant Antoni Ptak (Cram Motorsport).
BATTLES ALL DOWN THE FIELD
Sacha Fenestraz (Tech 1 Racing) lost his third starting position in the first corner and just managed to keep his teammate, Gabriel Aubry, at bay for positions ten and eleven.
Ferdinand Habsburg (Fortec Motorsports) raced from 26th place on the grid to finish in twelfth spot. Followed home by Vasily Romanov (Fortec Motorsports) and Bartłomiej Mirecki (BM Racing), the battle for 15th and 16th went on to the checkered flag. Hugo de Sadeleer (Tech 1 Racing) locked up his wheels at the last chicane, leaving the advantage to German Laurents Hörr (Dutt Motorsport).