Tech 1 Racing returned to the Formula Renault Eurocup at Spa-Francorchamps with great ambitions. Right from the word go on Friday Gabriel Aubry topped the time sheets in the only collective test session. His team-mates were also on the pace, especially Max Fewtrell even though his session came to a premature halt with an exhaust manifold issue.
The Toulouse-based outfit confirmed its promising form in very closely-fought qualifying sessions. While Maxwell finished just shy of the top five, Aubry set his sixth group pole of the season and Fewtrell clinched three third-row positions. Things didn’t pan out for Thomas Neubauer who suffered from a balance problem on his tyres and failed to repeat his encouraging performances in the previous weekend’s NEC.
None of the drivers was able to improve his starting position in the first heat. The race was stopped after three laps behind the safety car because of fog in several corners. Fewtrell finished fifth in front of Aubry and the Thomases had no opportunity to fight their way into the top 10.
In the afternoon the team was in a much more satisfied mood because of the results in the second heat. Aubry was on the front row and he got the better of the pole sitter whose attacks he fended off to seal his third victory in the Formula Renault Eurocup. Fewtrell finished fourth and scored his eighth win of the year in the rookie category. Maxwell finished just outside the points, while Neubauer’s efforts were compromised because of a gear change problem.
On Sunday Fewtrell went pedal to the metal to try and seize third place, but the English driver in the Renault Sport Academy was handed a 10-second penalty as he slightly moved on the grid before the start. This dropped him back to ninth promoting Aubry to fourth. Maxwell again finished just outside the points and Neubauer had to retire towards the end of the race when another driver shut the door in his face!
“Spa was a great weekend for the team,” summed up Olivier Maernhout, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “Our cars were in the mix all weekend and Gabriel once again showed that he’s one of the quickest drivers in the championship. He racked up his sixth group pole and missed out on a seventh by only 20/1000ths of a second. We were absolutely delighted with his excellent victory. He really went for it by putting up stiff resistance when he was under threat and by breaking the slipstreaming of his rivals as soon as he could. He could have won again on Sunday as he was in the lead at Les Combes, but he left his braking too late. Despite this Gaby had an excellent weekend that’ll help him to achieve his aims.
“Even though Max’s problem in practice prevented him from showing his full potential he had a solid weekend and was the quickest rookie. He drove two intelligent races, in particular on Sunday when he pushed really hard to snatch third place thanks to some good moves. Unfortunately, race control sanctioned him for his start from which he gained absolutely no advantage, but that’s the way the rules are written. It’s a pity as he could have bagged a big haul of points although it doesn’t detract from his overall performance.
“Thomas Neubauer had difficulty building his confidence up and finding his marks because of a balance problem on two sets of tyres. This handicapped him in practice and qualifying. After that it was for him hard to move up the time sheets even if Spa provides great opportunities for slipstreaming. Thomas managed to put these problems behind him by fighting his corner and giving nothing away. His times when he was alone on the track after his pit stop in heat two were pretty good and showed the progress he’s made. We hope that all his work will bear fruit in Barcelona.
“And finally Thomas Maxwell regained his confidence and found the mojo he lacked recently as he was among the front-runners on Friday. Afterwards, he put on one of his best qualifying performances of the season and we hoped he’d score some points, but it wasn't meant to be. He also had to avoid another driver who spun in front him in the Raidillon, which made things more difficult for him. However, Thomas has found a dynamic that should help him to finish the season on a high note in Barcelona.”
In the overall classification Tech 1 Racing has consolidated its place among the best three teams in the category. Aubry is fifth in front of Fewtrell who’s increased his lead in the rookie category. Before the final on the Barcelona-Catalunya, Tech 1 Racing will go to Hockenheim (6-8 October) for a round of the Formula Renault NEC.
“Gaby has closed the gap to the third-placed driver and Max has confirmed his position as the best rookie,” summed up Maernhout. “They both had excellent weekends that brought them closer to achieving their aims. We’re going to Barcelona absolutely determined to do everything possible to put Gaby into the leading trio and give Max the rookie title. As usual we’ll give nothing away, and we’ll do our absolute utmost right till the end to help our four drivers score big points and finish the season in a blaze of glory!”
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