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Eurocup Clio

As if the final act of the Eurocup Clio season were not fascinating enough, along came the rain to add a little extra spice. Slicks proved the right choice in the end, however, as Christian Ricciarini (Composit Motorsport) took the win, helped in no small part by the ten-second penalty Rafael Villanueva (Milan Competition) picked up for leaving the track. Taking the 2012 title meanwhile was Oscar Nogues (Rangoni Motorsport), who topped the standings ahead of Marc Guillot (Milan Competition) and Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur).

Sunday morning rain left the drivers with a choice to make as they geared up for the title-deciding race of the Eurocup Clio season, with poleman and points leader Oscar Nogues opting for wets, as did his front-row companion Jordi Palomeras (Milan Competition) and the rest of the leading pack. The highest-placed driver wearing slicks was Thomas Fjordbach (Polar Seafood Racing) in seventh, with Rene Steenmetz (Madeno Racing) and Christian Ricciarini making the same choice too.

Jordi Palomeras made the smartest getaway, followed closely at the first turn by Eric Tremoulet (Vic’Team), while Marc Guillot made a move on championship rival Oscar Nogues, allowing Simone di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport) to nip in between them. Lap one ended with Jordi Palomeras leading the way from Eric Tremoulet, Oscar Nogues, Simone di Luca, Marc Guillot and Mike Verschuur, who had jumped up from ninth.

Jordi Palomeras relinquished the lead to Eric Tremoulet on the next lap, though all eyes were on the developing duel between Oscar Nogues and Marc Guillot, the Frenchmen diving into fourth past Simone di Luca, who then had to fend off the charging Mike Verschuur.

No sooner had Marc Guillot started to put the heat on Oscar Nogues than he saw Mike Verschuur and Simone di Luca sweep past him, though worse was to follow on lap four when he slid into the gravel trap and out of the race, bringing his championship hopes to a premature end. In the meantime, the Spaniard clung on to third ahead of Verschuur and Di Luca.

The men on slicks gained the upper hand as the race progressed, turning the race order upside down. Having starting in 12th, Rafael Villanueva found himself in the lead with four laps remaining, while Christian Ricciarini climbed up to second and Thomas Fjordbach surged into third.

Rafael Villanueva went on to take the chequered flag but was later handed a ten-second penalty for leaving the track, demoting him to third place and giving Christian Ricciarini the race win and Alex Villanueva (Dale Gas) an unexpected second. Oscar Nogues finished out of the points, though that mattered little as he pocketed the Eurocup Clio 2012 title and a €50,000 grant to support his 2013 drive in a Renault Sport Technologies event.

What they said:

Oscar Nogues: “What an incredibly tough race. I knew on the grid that that this was a race for slicks but with the standings the way they were I had to make the same choice as Mike Verschuur and Marc Guillot. It was a relief when Marc went off in the gravel trap, and I was pleased to see the drivers on slicks start to take control because that meant the title was done and dusted. It’s great for me but first and foremost it’s a massive achievement for Rangoni Motorsport. I need to focus on the Clio Cup Spain before I can start thinking about next year. The best thing to do would be to race in Eurocup Clio again because the new car looks really good.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 21 October 2012
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