The opening race of the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup France season took place at Spa Francorchamps over the weekend of 4/5 May, accompanying the first round of the FIA World Endurance Super Season.
The format for the weekend was the following: two free practices on Thursday, the qualifying sessions on Friday, Race 1 on Friday afternoon and Race 2 on Saturday morning before the start of the 6 Hour World Endurance race.
The competitors in the French series were joined by the competitors of the GT3 Cup Benelux, for a total of 37 cars on the grid. The change for this new season is the use of the newest model of the Porsche 991 GT3 Cup in the French Series (this model has been in use in the Mobil 1 Supercup from last year).
The first pole position of the season was set by reigning champion Julien Andlauer, who is back for a new season in the French series in parallel with the Supercup and the FIA WEC. Andlauer, now a Porsche Motorsport Junior driver, was also competing on the same weekend at Spa in the Carrera Cup and in the GTE Am class of the WEC for Proton Competition in a Porsche 911 RSR.
With a very good start from the second line of the grid, Alessio Rovera (Tsunami RT) set himself up as the leader of the first race at the exit of La Source hairpin, while Turkish driver Ayhacan Guven (Attempto Racing) passed Andlauer (Martinet by Alméras) but a crash in the middle of the field saw the mandatory introduction of the safety car for the first time.
At the restart, the three drivers in front were engaged in a spectacular battle, with Guven trying an attack on Rovera at the end of the straight line, but he went wide and lost his second place to Andlauer. The race was once again neutralized with a new safety car due to a crash of the Belgian driver Didier van Dalen (Kronos Porsche Centre).
Therefore, the standings after Race 1 was: Rovera, Andlauer and Guven. The winner of the B class was Sebastien Dumez (Team 85/Bourgoin), former Carrera Cup Champion (2002 and 2003) followed by David Hallyday (RMS) and Christian Jaquillard (Jonquille Racing Team).
The eagerly anticipated second race of the weekend was unfortunately a very short one. Xavier Maasen (GT3 Cup Benelux) was the pole sitter but Valentin Hasse-Clot (Sébastien Loeb Racing) and Julien Andlauer both had a perfect start from the second row and led the field into the first corner. Big drama unfolded behind them, however, as Frenchman Jérémy Sarhy (Sébastien Loeb Racing) spun at the exit of La Source and trying to get back on the line touched two other competitors, causing a long safety car period to clean the track of debris and liquids. Two racers had to retire following this incident: Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing – GT3 Cup Benelux) and Alex Marchois (FAL Racing).
The race resumed with only five minutes remaining and Hasse-Clot showed good consistency, with no mistakes, despite some overtaking attempts from Julien Andlauer, who was very motivated to win here. In the last lap, we witnessed a fierce battle between Jean-Baptiste Simmenaueur (Team 85/Bourgoin) and Ayhacan Guven for the fifth place, both drivers being on the limit. Alessio Rovera (third) edged closer and closer to Andlauer, especially in the last lap, and was very close to make it at the Karting corner, but Andlauer managed to keep his position. The race ended but the drivers continued to attack, as the chequered flag hadn’t been shown and this created confusion among the public and the teams. Finally, the race director mentioned that the standings were those from the last lap and therefore Valentin Hasse-Clot took his first win of the season. Andlauer and Rovera finished second and third, with Alessio Rovera setting himself up as the early leader in the Porsche Carrera Cup France standings. In the B-class, Nicolas Misslin (Almeras by Martinet) won his first race, a just reward after his crash in Race 1. Sébastien Dumez finished second with ex-24 Hour Le Mans participant Yannick Mallegol (RMS) in third.
Every one present at Spa was keyed-up by the great battles and overtaking moves seen in the opening round of the French Carrera Cup. There won’t be long to wait for the next round, as the second round takes place at Zandvoort on 19/20 May.
Porsche Carrera Cup France – Driver Standings after Rounds 1 & 2:
|6 & 1st Rookie||Hugo Chevalier||16|
|6 & 1st Gentleman||Sébastien Dumez||16|
Porsche Carrera Cup France – Teams Standings after Rounds 1 & 2:
|1||Team Martinet by Alméras||53|
|2||Sébastien Loeb Racing||46|
Written by: Lucian Sonea
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale and Alexis Goure