Ukyo Sasahara (ART Junior Team) won the season opener of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup in Monza, Italy. Ignazio D’Agosto ((Manor MP Motorsport) finished second at his home circuit ahead of the best rookie Max Defourny (Strakka Racing) from Belgium.
Last year’s runner up Louis Delétraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) was on pole position. However, the Swiss stalled his engine at the start and so forced a second start. That left 22 minutes to race. Delétraz should have started from the back, and when he did not do so it earned him a drive-through penalty. He finally finished in 14th place.
His countryman Kevin Jörg (Josef Kaufmann Racing), who started from third overtook Sasahara when he made a mistake. Then Jörg took first place from Delétraz after his penalty. For the last place on the podium the fight was between D’Agosto, Defourny and Dries Vanthoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing). The final results were made on the penultimate lap. Sasahara closed the small gap to Jörg and attacked him in the Lesmo curves. The two of them made contact and unfortunately Kevin Jörg got a slow puncture and had to be content with no points at place 23.
RACB driver Dries Vanthoor tried to fight his way down to third, but lost two places to Darius Oscoui (ART Junior Team) and Callan O’Keeffe. (Fortec Motorsports) in a fair fight. Defourny finished third and also took the trophee for first placed Rookie.
Ukyo Sasahara (#9 ART Junior Team): “I started from second and when I made a mistake in the first lap I dropped to third. It is tough to overtake as the competition is strong. But I kept on pushing and followed Delétraz and Jörg. When Delétraz got a drive-through penalty I fought with Jörg for first place. I am really sorry for Jörg as he defended well but our cars touched and he unfortunately got a slow puncture. In the last laps I controlled my pace to finish my first race of the season on the highest step of the podium.”
Ignazio D’Agosto (#19 Manor MP Motorsport): “After six months of no racing at all I am really happy to be back and to be on the podium. The car felt good, the team did a great job and it is very enjoyable to race is such a competitive race series. I have no experience here at Monza other than the free practice sessions yesterday. I had to defend myself from Defourny, he did a great job. Tomorrow I will start from 19th place but I hope I have another successful race.”
Max Defourny (#33 Strakka Racing): “It was my first race in the Formula Renault 2.0 car and my first podium as well. I started seventh and kept on pushing. It was great racing. Last year in the NEC Junior series I had some podium results, but this car suits me better, so I am really pleased to be on the podium here now. I have really enjoyed myself and looking forward to tomorrow eventhough I will only start from 10th place.”
Tomorrow race 2 starts at 10.30 hrs