Doureid Ghattas made it three wins on the bounce in an entertaining Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) opener at the Nurburgring, leading home compatriot, team-mate and chief title rival Phil Hill home in an Anders Motorsport 1-2.
The German Formula 4 graduate made quick work in relieving R-ace GP’s Gabriel Gandulia of the lead on the opening lap and duly set about extending his advantage as the Argentine debated second with a recovering Hill.
Their squabble allowed Ghattas to establish an advantage, and even once up into second the MP Motorsport machine of Freek Schothorst prevented Hill from a clear run at his championship rival.
Schothorst would eventually find a way past Ghattas – a move that had no bearing on the lead of the NEC field – and the top three closed were split by less than half a second heading into the final stages of the contest as Hill and Gandulia bridged the gap.
Another late dice between the pair over second, however, gave Ghattas the break he needed to take the chequered flag and extend his points lead to 16 points, whilst third for Gandulia puts another dent in his title hopes.
Sharon Scolari claimed fourth on her and the ScoRace Team’s return to the action, matching her season-best result at Spa in July.
The action continues in the Eifel Mountains tomorrow [16th September], with qualifying scheduled for 09:00 CEST ahead of the final race at 14:20.
Doureid Ghattas (1st) said, “I’m really pleased with the victory, especially as it’s my home event and it’s another good result in terms of the championship; hopefully we can do the same tomorrow and head to the final round with a gap over 20 points.
“I made a good start and was able to take the lead, and from there it was just controlling the race from the front until the end. Now I need to carry this momentum forward into the second race so we can go to Hockenheim next week in a strong position.”
Phil Hill (2nd) said, “I think we showed that the pace is there to take race victories this weekend and there were some really intense, fun battles out on circuit in that race. At one point Doureid [Ghattas] made a mistake out of Turn 17 and it looked like there was an opportunity to pass on the inside, but I had to back out of it and that loss of momentum allowed Gabriel [Gandulia] to pass, but I managed to recover to second.
“If I win the next three races, I’m Champion, so the motivation is definitely there tomorrow to bring home a strong result.”
Gabriel Gandulia (3rd) said, “It’s good to start the weekend with a podium, and to have some fantastic battles out on circuit with the others. A huge ‘thank you’ to everybody at R-ace GP for their hard work in preparing the car; we’ve got another qualifying session and race tomorrow so we’ll look to build on this result then.”