Phil Hill fended off an early threat from Anders Motorsport team mate Doureid Ghattas to win the opening Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) contest at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, leading home a 1-2 finish for the German outfit.
The duo made a level start from the front row and Ghattas threatened Hill’s lead through Eau Rogue, down the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes, but the latter held firm and managed to build a buffer against his team mate by passing Eurocup racers Najiy Razak, Christian Munoz and Vladimir Tziortzis.
That advantage would ebb and flow over the remainder of the race but Hill, who eventually came home 19th in the thick of the Eurocup midfield, was able to notch up his first overall race victory in the series and move into a joint championship lead with Ghattas.
Gabriel Gandulia (R-ace GP) spent the majority of the race within touching distance of Ghattas’ runner-up spot, but ultimately had to settle for the final spot on the podium in third. He will start the second and final race of the weekend tomorrow from pole position, however, as he aims to end the first half of the season on a high.
ScoRace Team’s Sharon Scolari looked on course to take the highest-placed finish for a female racer in the NEC’s 13-year history, but an accident in the closing stages of the contest put her into retirement.
“It was really nice to be able to race with the Eurocup guys,” said Hill
“I had some really good fights with them. I still have to work on my starts but it was decent, and the race was intense, close, fast – everything you want, really.
“I think my start was a little bit better than Doureid’s. It’s the main thing you want, to beat your team mate, I managed to do that.
“I have to start from the back tomorrow, but I think the pace today showed us that I can win tomorrow again – that’s certainly my aim.”