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Eurocup Clio

Having finished second in the Eurocup Clio last season, Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur) is out for revenge this year. With two pole positions, the weekend had started well for the Dutchman. But his plans were thwarted when he was forced to retire from the first race. Verschuur’s second outing of the weekend was rather more productive, as he recorded a comfortable victory ahead of Rafael Villanueva (Milan Compétition) and Marc Guillot (Milan Compétition). Guillot, for his part, leaves Spa-Francorchamps as the overall leader in the Eurocup Clio.

The front two rows of the starting grid were identical for both of the weekend’s Eurocup Clio races, with Mike Verschuur on pole position ahead of Marc Guillot, Rafael Villanueva and Robert Van den Berg (Harders Plaza Racing). With the rain coming down, the race directors made the decision to start the race behind the safety car. When the drivers were eventually unleashed, Mike Verschuur took control of the race. Rafael Villanueva drove well in the opening laps to move up to second place, in front of Robert Van den Berg and Marc Guillot. Eric Trémoulet followed behind them in fifth.

Verschuur imposed his rhythm on the race, and the front five drivers opened up an unassailable gap over the rest of the field. In the quest for sixth place, Oscar Nogues (Rangoni Motorsport) successfully found a way past team-mate Salvatore Arcarese (Rangoni Motorsport).

Verschuur was quicker than his opponents every lap as he went about extending his lead. But while the situation at the front was fairly settled, the rest of the drivers were giving it their all. Cristian Ricciarini (Composit Motorsport), who finished third yesterday, lost control of his car and hit the wall through the Raidillon. In the battle for tenth place, Simone di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport) Gonzalo Martin de Andrés (Milan Compétition) and René Steenmetz (Madeno Racing) were wheel-to-wheel, with Steenmetz working his way to the front of this compact group.

After a solid start to the race, Robert Van den Berg made a mistake a slipped from third place down to sixth. Marc Guillot took advantage of the slip-up, but had to stay on his guard with Eric Trémoulet and Oscar Nogues coming back strong.

At the front, Mike Verschuur held his position ahead of Rafael Villanueva until the chequered flag. The race for the third step of the podium, however, was extremely hard-fought. Oscar Nogues’ challenge ended when he went too wide on an exit, while Eric Trémoulet continued to push all the way to the end. But Marc Guillot kept his cool to cross the line in third place, and with it maintain his lead in the Eurocup Clio overall standings.

What they said

Mike Verschuur: “Yesterday I started the race with a huge flat tyre, so I knew I’d have to retire after the opening laps. It was quite frustrating. Today I redeemed myself in the rain. We weren’t expecting to win here this weekend as we hadn’t done a single kilometre of testing in the winter.”

Rafael Villanueva: “It’s an ideal start to the season for me, with two second places. Yesterday Marc was too quick, and today it was Mike who seemed to be untouchable. I did my best and I’m very happy with that.”

Marc Guillot: “There was a bit of contact between me and Rafa at the start. It damaged the body of my car and I was fortunate not to get a puncture. I fought for third place, and I had to hold firm. In the end, Mike was too quick today. Third is enough for me to leave here in top spot, which was the goal for the weekend.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 03 June 2012
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