Gandulia and Hill share the spoils in Spa free practice

Gabriel Gandulia and Phil Hill topped a practice session apiece as preparations for this weekend’s Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) opener stepped up a gear at the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

R-ace GP protegee Gandulia is no stranger to the 4.3 mile circuit after an extensive testing programme earlier in the year, and asserted his authority in the opening session with a quickest time of 2:20.676s to edge out the Anders Motorsport pairing of Phil Hill and Doureid Ghattas by two tenths of a second.

Title rival Hill – riding the crest of a wave after a brace of de-facto victories amongst the full-season entries at Monza a month ago – hit back in second practice, setting the pace with a 2:21.249s as times started to tumble mid-session.

The trio are currently embroiled in a close fight at the top of the standings, with Gandulia and Ghattas arriving in the Ardennes Forest as joint standings leaders, with Hill just six points further back.

ScoRace Team’s Sharon Scolari adds another factor into the mix, with the Swiss well-placed to pounce on any error from her rivals as she bids to become the first female in the championship’s history to take a podium finish.

The plot thickens with the opening qualifying session, scheduled for a new time of 18:50 CEST after a knock-on effect from delays in other sessions on the timetable.