Lilou Wadoux eyes continuous learning in first season of Alpine Europa Cup
19-year old French driver Lilou Wadoux is targeting every opportunity to extend her experience at the wheel of the Alpine A110 Cup car and entered a round of the endurance Ultimate Cup Series in preparation for the upcoming rounds of the Alpine Europa Cup championship.
It certainly was a great weekend for French motorsport enthusiasts. Pierre Gasly's shock victory at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza was famously the first French win in 24 years, but a new generation of determined French youngsters are quickly climbing the ranks and, among them, there might be a young lady from Amiens.
Born in 2001, Lilou Wadoux made her debut in auto racing at 16 in the Peugeot 208 Cup and claimed notable results straight away. Last month, the 19-year old French lady entered the opening race of the 2020 Alpine Europa Cup at Nogaro, joining Polish W Series racer Gosia Rdest on the grid. Wadoux had a very positive inaugural weekend in the first three races and currently sits seventh in the points standings.
Making her switch from front-wheel to rear-wheel drive cars for the first time, Lilou Wadoux is eyeing every opportunities to extend her experience on such vehicles and thus seized the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of the #44 Alpine A110 Cup car by entering a round of the Ultimate Cup Series at Dijon.
On the Dijon Prenois circuit, Wadoux returned to endurance racing, which she had previously practiced in her first years in the sport, sharing the seat with fellow Alpine Europa Cup competitor Jean-Baptiste Méla in the Autosport GP entry. Teaming up with the 22-year old driver - currently second in the championship - was another learning opportunity for Wadoux, who is eager to keep improving in her first season of the one-make French series.
"The aim is above all to drive and to gain experience" - explained Wadoux.
"He's more experienced than me and already at the top of the rankings. He has a lot to teach me. For example, he has always raced with rear-wheel drive cars."
But the endurance format also meant a slightly different driving style, which brings its own challenges: "The biggest difference will be the tyres. We'll have to manage them" - she said before the event. It wasn't a step into the unknown for the young racer though, who also entered the Magny Cours 24 Hours, as well as several races at her home track of Dijon: "I have been there several times already, it is one of the closest to home, with Magny-Cours and Spa-Francorchamps" - she added, "it was in Dijon that I had my best results in the 208 Racing Cup."
After the three-hour race, Wadoux was P12 overall, finishing ahead of bigger and more powerful cars. Happy for the valuable track time, Lilou said she was satisfied by her tyre management, which was source of some concern heading into the weekend.
"These are the same Michelin tyres used in the Alpine Cup" - commented Autosport GP team boss Gilles Zaffini, who also added that the team had to make some adjustments to allow Wadoux to share the seat with the way taller Jean-Baptiste Méla.
"Lilou is a real sponge!" - continued Zaffini, who has witnessed to Lilou Wadoux's continuous improvements. "And in addition, she is charismatic, not just because she is a young woman, I don't think so, but because she has character".
Having extended her experience in the Alpine A110 Cup, Wadoux now turns her focus back to her main 2020 plans, as the Alpine Europa Cup will hit the track again this weekend at Magny Cours. The series - which supports GT World Challenge Europe and Formula Renault Eurocup at the former home of the French F1 GP - is also likely to benefit from increased attention now, as Renault annouced that its Formula 1 Team will be rebranded with the Alpine name in 2021.
“Alpine has made its mark in rally history and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, now in F1!" - said Wadoux, echoing Gosia Rdest's remarks: "After all, Alpine is the most sporting brand of the group and F1 is the best place to promote it. I am very happy that the brand that I am racing with this season has made such a beautiful step."
The second round of the season will get underway at Magny Cours, France, starting Friday 11 September.
Additional reporting: Vincent Delorme, Gazette Sports
Special thanks to Leandre Leber, Editor, Gazette Sports