Alpine Elf Europa Cup leader Lorens Lecertua enjoyed a near-perfect weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. With two pole positions, two wins and one fastest lap, the Belgian-Spanish Junior pulls away in the general classification from teammate Enzo Geraci, who is now the only driver in a position to deny him the title. The penultimate round on the calendar also saw Adrien Catelin win the Challengers crown, as did Chazel Technologie Course Junior in the Teams category before the season finale at Le Castellet (6-8 October).
Twenty-two drivers took to the track on Thursday as the Alpine Elf Europa Cup returned to the track for the free practice sessions, with title contenders Romain Favre (VPS Racing) and Enzo Geraci (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) setting the pace.
The hierarchy changed on Friday, as did the conditions as thunderstorms descended on Montmeló. Championship leader Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) seized the opportunity to stand out in both sessions. The Belgian-Spanish driver took pole position by more than nine-tenths of a second in Q1, just a few minutes before repeating the feat with an advantage of more than eight-tenths in Q2.
RACE 1: A 1-2 AND A TITLE FOR CHAZEL TECHNOLOGIE COURSE JUNIOR
On Friday evening, the race began on a wet track and went green after three laps behind the safety car. Lorens Lecertua took advantage of the best visibility to convert his pole position advantage. Behind him, Enzo Geraci snatched second place from Thibaut Bossy (Herrero Racing) before the race was neutralised to clear the A110 Cups of Pierre Macchi (Autosport GP), Alain Jacono (Chazel Technologie Course) and Frédéric De Brabant (Chazel Technologie Course), who were all caught out by the conditions.
At the restart, Lorens Lecertua retained the lead ahead of Enzo Geraci, whilst Jules Gougeon (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) surprised Thibaut Bossy and joined the leading trio where the gaps were rapidly narrowing. As the final minutes approached, Lorens Lecertua resisted the attacks of Enzo Geraci, who then found himself under threat from Jules Gougeon before the latter had to battle with Tim Mérieux (Autosport GP) and Louis Méric (Code Racing Development).
Despite his teammate's efforts, Lorens Lecertua came out on top, leading a 1-2 finish to secure the team crown for Chazel Technologie Course Junior. Tim Mérieux snatched third place from Jules Gougeon under the watchful eye of Louis Méric on the final lap. Starting tenth and eleventh, Léo Jousset (Race Cars Consulting) and Romain Favre climbed to sixth and seventh, followed by Thibaut Bossy (Herrero Racing), winner in the Challengers category. Mateo Herrero (Herrero Racing) and Willyam Gosselin (VPS Racing) completed the top ten in a race in which Laurent Richard (Herrero Racing) dominated the Gentlemen category.
RACE 2: LECERTUA DOUBLES UP, CATELIN SECURES CHALLENGERS TITLE
Sunny skies returned Saturday morning for a new confrontation on a dry track. The field opted for Michelin slick tyres, and Lorens Lecertua made another solid start to keep the lead. Meanwhile, Enzo Geraci was overtaken by Thibaut Bossy and Louis Méric before fighting back in a duel ending in a collision with Louis Méric on lap three.
Lorens Lecertua quickly increased his lead over Thibaut Bossy as the order changed quickly. Starting eighth in a lively field, Tim Mérieux climbed to third place ahead of Adrien Catelin (Code Racing Development) and Laurent Richard, who were both outside the top ten on the grid. Meanwhile, Enzo Geraci began his comeback, followed by Lukas Papin (Autosport GP) and Romain Favre, determined to keep his fading title hopes alive.
Alone at the front, Lorens Lecertua controlled his pace to seal his brace of victories. Tim Mérieux overtook Thibaut Bossy two laps from the chequered flag to win the battle for second place. Thibaut Bossy suffered additional misfortune when he was disqualified post-race for a technical non-conformity relating to body height. Enzo Geraci was promoted to third while fourth-placed Adrien Catelin inherited the category win, which secured him the Challengers crown.
Lukas Papin scored the best result of his career with his first top-five ahead of Romain Favre, Ethan Bernard (Herrero Racing) and Louis Méric. Ninth-placed Laurent Richard took top honours in the Gentleman category, where Anthony Fournier (Race Cars Consulting) saw his opportunity to seal the class titre vanish after a tangle with Sami Dhahri (VPS Racing).
Denied maximum points just by a single digit (the fastest lap from his teammate Jules Gougeon in Race 1), Lorens Lecertua nevertheless consolidated his lead and now enjoys a 26-point advantage over Enzo Geraci, the last driver still in contention for the overall and Junior titles. Anthony Fournier, Laurent Richard, Alain Jacono (Chazel Technologie Course) and Pierre Macchi (Autosport GP) will battle it out for the Gentlemen category crown at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
Lorens Lecertua (Races 1 and 2 winner)
"It's hard to do better than a double pole position followed by two wins in my second home round, as I have dual Belgian and Spanish citizenship. Qualifying put me in an ideal position, but the races were far from easy, with the weather conditions on Friday and the tyre degradation on Saturday. Nevertheless, we managed to keep the pace to win, and I'd like to thank the team for all their hard work. The aim will be to secure the title in the first race at Le Castellet, but it all depends on qualifying!"
Adrien Catelin (Challengers category champion)
"The title in the Challengers category is a bonus even if my main rival didn’t contest all the races this season. Nevertheless, I'm quite pleased with my performance in race two. On Friday, we made a strategic choice which didn't pay off as it did in Dijon, but we were strong in the dry on Saturday and I enjoyed myself. I'm quite cautious by nature as I always try to get the car back in perfect condition, but I know the Le Castellet circuit well, so I think I'll push a bit more!"
Laurent Richard (Races 1 and 2 Gentlemen category winner)
"After a tough weekend in Dijon, these two wins are a boost of confidence. I'm particularly pleased with my victory on Saturday. I got off to a superb start, helped by two minor collisions in front of me where I didn't have to slow down, and then managed the race well. We'll be challenging Anthony Fournier for the title right to the end. Anything can happen in a single-make cup so I am so much looking forward to Le Castellet!"
Louis Chazel (Chazel Technologie Course Juniors Team Manager)
"We are extremely proud of the work done by all our drivers. After helping Lucas Frayssinet to win the title last year, we've confirmed this season with the teams’ crown, which is new for this year. It's a reward for the entire team's efforts, and we can now look forward to Lorens and Enzo battling it out for the overall and Junior crowns. We're thrilled because this is their first season in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup, and we've tried to give them everything they need to race out front. The hard work has paid off, and may the best driver win!"
1. Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior)
2. Enzo Geraci (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) +1.248s
3. Tim Mérieux (Autosport GP) +3.217s
4. Jules Gougeon (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) +3.475s
5. Louis Méric (Code Racing Development) +4.104s ...
Pole position : Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) – 2:06.853s
Fastest lap: Jules Gougeon (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) – 2:07.526s
1. Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior)
2. Tim Mérieux (Autosport GP) +5.156s
3. Enzo Geraci (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) +8.932s
4. Adrien Catelin (Code Racing Development) +9.385s
5. Lukas Papin (Autosport GP) +13.897s ...
Pole position : Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) – 2:07.357s
Fastest lap: Lorens Lecertua (Chazel Technologie Course Junior) – 1:53.438s
1. Lorens Lecertua – 155 points
2. Enzo Geraci – 129 points
3. Romain Favre – 105 points
4. Tim Mérieux – 93 points
5. Alexis Garcin – 71 points