Alex Peroni converted pole position into a race victory in the final Formula Renault Northern European Cup contest at a torrentially wet Pau.
The MP Motorsport driver retained his advantage over team-mate Christian Lundgaard at the start as the race began under safety car conditions, and pulled away in the early stages once released into action.
The Australian hit traffic, however, in the closing laps, which allowed Lundgaard to reduce his advantage to beneath a second. Peroni kept his cool, and the two crossed the line in a photo finish, separated by a mere 0.125 seconds.
It marks another perfect performance in the iconic French city for Peroni, who now has three victories from four career race starts on the 2.7km circuit.
Logan Sargeant capitalised on some rare overtaking opportunities to move past Tech1 Racing’s Neil Verhagen and claim a second podium finish of the weekend.
Team-mate and Renault Sport Academy driver Victor Martins did likewise, ensuring Red Bull Junior Verhagen would cross the line fifth, edging out a composed drive to sixth from team-mate Frank Bird.
Thomas Neubauer survived contact with team-mate Alexander Smolyar into Pont Oscar in the closing stages to claim seventh, with Fortec Motorsport’s Arthur Rougier eighth.
Anders Motorsport’s Doureid Ghattas claimed ninth and was once again quickest of the full-season NEC entries, though Gabriel Gandulia put in another strong showing to round out the top ten on the pairings first competitive weekend of action.
Smolyar was eventually classified eleventh in front of Nicolas Melin, who came out ahead of the second Anders car of Phil Hill despite some good on-track battles between the duo.
Formula Motorsport’s Nicolas Pironneau came next, with Thierry Malhomme fifteenth after a spin.
Charles Milesi was forced to retire with an engine problem, with a gearbox issue for ScoRace Team’s Sharon Scolari after qualifying preventing her from taking the race start, but she will look to bounce back at the series’ next event at Monza, scheduled for the weekend of the 29 June – 01 July.
Alex Peroni (#32) said, “It’s been a perfect weekend. Qualifying this morning was great and then we carried that pace into the race, it was a bit annoying at the end with the traffic but overall, we’ve had a good weekend and I have to thank the team, my sponsors and everyone that’s helped me get to this point. Hopefully this repays that a little bit, but now we need to push on.
“I think this should be a good boost to my confidence after a shaky start to the Eurocup season. Hopefully we can take this forward to Silverstone next weekend, but for Monaco, especially if it’s wet, it’s going to be quite good for us.
“We weren’t sure how wet it was going to be – we weren’t even sure if we were going to race! It wasn’t much wetter compared to Race 1 and I was just concentrating on the restart. That went well and then it was just putting qualifying laps down, getting my head down and pulling away.”
Christian Lundgaard (#31) said, “I’m happy with the weekend, but also in a way I’m not. We wanted to win, Alex was stronger – if anyone else was going to win, it had to be him. I’m pleased with that, it’s a strong weekend for the whole team with four podiums.
“Now we look forward to Monaco – we have Silverstone in-between which we hope we can be strong at as well. It’s definitely been good experience, and that was the point of coming here, I hope I learned as much as possible. We’ve shown our pace in qualifying, and I’m sure we’ll do well there too.
“I could see I was catching Alex, but not by too much. Then he got caught in traffic, which helped me! Our little plan [the photo finish] in the end worked perfectly, to get a cool picture for the team, I think we even maybe did it a little bit too close! We have to thank the team though; we did our part and they did theirs.”
Logan Sargeant (#2) said, “We ran a good second race and put in a nice move to take third, so it was a strong result. Coming to Pau, the main aim was just to give me experience on a street circuit, so it definitely gives me more confidence heading to Monaco now I know how it is ‘between the walls’!
“I haven’t had much running in the rain at all with the Renault, so I think these rain days are valuable, important for learning and good to get out of the way, especially when I go back to Eurocup, it’ll make me more prepared for that.”