Lilou Wadoux charges to second place, solid P8 for Gosia Rdest in Alpine Europa Cup
The second Alpine Europa Cup race at Le Castellet provided some spectacular battles for the victory, with Lilou Wadoux coming a few tenth short after a charge from fifth on the grid. Having battled with some understeer following a contact in Race 1, Gosia Rdest had two solid races in the Top-10, scoring good points ahead of the season finale in Portimao.
Sunday morning at Circuit Paul Ricard started with menacing clouds over the home of the French GP, but the weather held on and the second qualifying session of the Alpine Europa Cup went on in fully dry conditions.
Lucas Frayssinet snatched a last second pole position – his first in the series – from Simon Tirman, who had sat on top of the timing screen throughout the session. Lilou Wadoux was thus demoted to P5 after the chequered flag, as Ugo De Wilde and Jean Baptiste Méla locked out the second row.
Despite a difficult race on Saturday, Wadoux still managed to gain two positions to finish in sixth place – but the young Frenchwoman was not fully satisfied with the balance of her car.
W Series racer and fastest Polish woman Gosia Rdest had a positive race 1, finishing ninth despite a contact that had bent her right-rear wheel.
“I was struggling with a bit of understeer in the right-hand corners due to the fact that on the first lap I got a massive hit which couldn’t be seen on the car but the right-rear wheel was bent and my steering wheel was turning to the left.” – she told us.
“I was trying to do my best but tyres were getting used not in proportional way due to the failed geometry and understeer appeared quicker than I thought. I was just trying to make the car rotate”.
Still, she managed to finish in the top-10 – for the eighth time in 2021. In the second qualifying session, Rdest was eighth fastest and thus lined up on the fourth row for the afternoon’s race.
When the lights went out for the final time at Le Castellet, Lilou Wadoux had a massive start off the line and managed to get into third place by Turn 3, behind Tirman and Méla after Frayssinet lost places.
Behind her, Hurgon and Hassid made contact and spun, dropping back to the end of the pack.
Gosia Rdest retained eighth place and was never under threat for the entire race.
On lap 3, the positions at the top were agein shuffled: Wadoux overtook Tirman and Méla took over the lead. But Wadoux’s pace was even more impressive and the young lady caught up with the reigning champion; she would attempt a first pass at the chicane, but had to back off.
After spending a few laps in Méla’s slipstream, Lilou went for the move: the two title contenders made light contact, but both continued to fight. The skirmishes, though, had allowed De Wilde to close in and they went three-wide into Signes corner. De Wilde managed to get ahead in spectacular fashion, with Wadoux second and Méla having to give up third to Tirman as well.
With a series of fastest laps, Wadoux tried to push De Wilde into a mistake, but the two drivers continued to run glued to each other, until Jean-Baptiste Méla returned in the fight for the win.
In the final laps, Wadoux had both to put pressure on De WIlde and watch her mirrors from Méla: after a highly spectacular second race, Ugo De Wilde took victory, preceding by few tenths of a second Lilou Wadoux and Jean-Baptiste Méla.
“I did a very very good start and moved into P4, and I immediately opened a gap to the rest of the competitors, so it was quite impressive how different it was from yesterday.” – said Wadoux, summing up her race. “Pace was really much better today. I had big battles and good overtakings during the race, especially with my other rivals in the championship, so that was good.”
“I had little changes in the setup, but in the races it’s better than qualifying and we’re going in a good direction.” – she added.
“The contact was a bit of a misunderstanding with Jean-Baptist [Méla] and me, but it’s racing and to win you have to fight”.
Gosia Rdest was eighth in a rather lonely but solid race. Despite still a few balance issues, the Polish driver was nevertheless happy about the performance, which resulted in the ninth Top-10 of the season and more points for the championship standings.
The next – and final – round of the 2021 Alpine Europa Cup championship will get underway in three weeks time at Portimao, Portugal, a track that Rdest is looking forward to going back to. “Last year I had a really nice season finish and the characteristics of the track suits me quite a lot.” – said Gosia.
Wadoux added that Portimao is a “difficult track, but she has big space for improvement” compared to last year.
Commenting on her first elusive win this year, Lilou confirmed that she’s not only a very fast driver, but also a smart one: “I hope it’s gonna come soon, but I think it’s more important to keep scoring big points for the championship than a retirement”.