Tuesday, 05 October 2021 18:50

Ugo de Wilde reignites title tilt at Circuit Paul Ricard

Written by

With two victories this weekend, Ugo de Wilde (Herrero Racing) is truly back in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup title fight. After his two podiums in Le Castellet, Jean-Baptiste Mela (Autosport GP) maintains his lead in the general classification, whilst Stéphane Auriacombe (Herrero Racing) wraps up the Gentlemen category ahead of the season finale at Portimão (22-24 October).

Circuit Paul Ricard hosted the Alpine Elf Europa Cup for the fourth consecutive year since the revival of the discipline on the same track in 2018. Twenty-one drivers were on track for this high-stakes confrontation in the Var.

RACE 1: DE WILDE WINS, AURIACOMBE SECURES THE GENTLEMEN CROWN

Ugo de Wilde set the fastest time in both free practice sessions and kept the momentum going in qualifying to edge out Jean-Baptiste Mela for the pole by a mere 0.058s. Simon Tirman (Autosport GP), Laurent Hurgon (LSGroup Autosport GP) and Lucas Frayssinet (Chazel Technologie Course) completed the top five.

Ugo de Wilde led through the opening corners despite pressure from behind before ceding to Jean-Baptiste Mela. Laurent Hurgon followed him after Signes to slot into second place. However, Ugo de Wilde didn't give up and closed the gap with a series of fastest laps in the race.

Behind the leading trio, Simon Tirman ran in fourth place, followed by Louis Méric (Race Cars Consulting), Lilou Wadoux and Lucas Frayssinet. Meanwhile, there were more and more incidents in the field, with a collision between Stéphane Auriacombe and Philippe Bourgois (Chazel Technologie Course).

On lap seven, Ugo de Wilde went on the offensive and found an opening on Jean-Baptiste Mela. The Belgian driver then held on to win by less than two tenths ahead of second from his rival for the title. Laurent Hurgon fended off Simon Tirman to complete the podium. Louis Méric completed the top five and the Junior category podium ahead of Lilou Wadoux, Lucas Frayssinet, Corentin Tierce (Herrero Racing) and Gosia Rdest (Chazel Technologie Course).

For his return to the Alpine Elf Europa Cup, Mathieu Blaise (Herrero Racing) finished tenth and won the Gentlemen category ahead of Stéphane De Groodt and Franck Labescat (Race Cars Consulting). Stéphane Auriacombe, who moved up to fourth place after his collision with his main rival for the title, scored enough points to clinch the Gentlemen category title.

RACE 2: DE WILDE DOUBLES UP

On Sunday morning, Lucas Frayssinet sprung a surprise by taking his first pole position for only 0.048s ahead of Simon Tirman. Beaten for the first time this weekend, Ugo de Wilde was third, 0.024s further back.

When the race went green, Simon Tirman immediately got closer to Lucas Frayssinet and took the lead. Jean-Baptiste Mela and Lilou Wadoux, Ugo de Wilde and Louis Méric followed close behind on lap one. Laurent Hurgon, who suffered a puncture during qualifying, lost several positions after contact with Henry Hassid (Chazel Technologie Course).

Jean-Baptiste Mela and Lilou Wadoux continued their offensive by taking the lead over Simon Tirman on lap two. The new leaders quickly got away and started a breathtaking duel until they made contact on lap four.

After disposing of Simon Tirman, Ugo de Wilde made the most of his chance to take the lead in the Signes curve. Once in front, Ugo de Wilde withstood the multiple attacks of Lilou Wadoux, whereas Jean-Baptiste Mela regained some ground to come back in the battle for the victory.

Despite all the efforts of his rivals, Ugo de Wilde held on for his second victory of the weekend by less than a second advantage over Lilou Wadoux and Jean-Baptiste Mela. In the final minutes of the race, Lucas Frayssinet put the hammer down to finish third in the Junior category ahead of Louis Méric, Corentin Tierce and Gosia Rdest. Gentlemen racers Mathieu Blaise, Stéphane Auriacombe and Philippe Bourgois completed the top ten.

With his Le Castellet double, Ugo de Wilde is now just 18 points behind the general classification leader, Jean-Baptiste Mela. The Belgian driver also takes the lead in the Junior category by 12 points over Lilou Wadoux. Laurent Hurgon is still mathematically in contention for the title. But the Frenchman no longer controls his destiny ahead of the 2021 season finale at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão from 22 to 24 October.

QUOTES

Ugo de Wilde (overall and Junior category winner race 1 and 2)
"The goal was to get maximum points and we came up just two points short of that. I'm delighted with how the weekend has gone. It is an ideal way to bounce back after a tough round in Barcelona. Anything is possible, and things can change very quickly. It won't be easy, but we're keeping our hopes alive, and we'll do our best to give ourselves the best possible chance."

Mathieu Blaise (Gentlemen category winner race 1 and 2)
"I would like to dedicate my two victories to my friend Stéphane, who recently passed away. I was happy to be back in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup after a year's absence. After a gearbox issue Saturday, the team did a fantastic job overnight to get me to the grid on Sunday, and it's always a pleasure to drive an Alpine."

Stéphane Auriacombe (Gentlemen category champion)
"I am thrilled to win the Gentlemen category title. I want to thank the team for the season and our coach Nicolas Schatz as our work paid off. I had hoped for a different outcome in race one, but I was hit by Philippe before being able to get going again and take the points needed to secure the title. Sunday went better, and I'm now looking forward to Portimão."

Stéphane De Groodt (Alpine VIP driver)
"I've always loved motorsport and I still do. I had never driven the Alpine A110 Cup before coming here and I only had one night practice session to discover the car and the track. Switching to new tyres gave me the impression of having another car in my hands. This Alpine is fun and easy to get to grips with, but exploiting its full potential is not easy. It was still a pleasure to be on a circuit, but it would have ben even nicer to be at the front. I wasn't quite, so it could be good if we reverse the grids... But I'll be back."

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.