Lilou Wadoux recovers to P6, Gosia Rdest in the Top-10 in Alpine Europa Cup Race 1 At Paul Ricard
After a difficult qualifying, Lilou Wadoux managed to gain a position to finish P6 in the Alpine Europa Cup first race at Le Castellet, while Gosia Rdest was again in the Top10 – for the eighth time this season.
The popular Alpine one make series made its return to home soil for its fifth and penultimate round of the 2021 season: at the home of the French GP at Circuit Paul RIcard, Gosia Rdest and Lilou Wadoux returned behind the wheel of their Alpine A110 Cup cars after the two races in Barcelona.
Among the most exciting female talents in Europe, Rdest has also contested three races of the all-female championship W Series in 2021, scoring points in Austria. Wadoux – in her second year in the series – impressed week in and week out, often coming close to her fisrt win in the championship. She entered the French round second in the drivers’ standings, 23 points behind reigning champion Jean-Baptiste Méla. Earlier in August, the young Frenchwoman made her debut in the Porsche Sprint Challenge, in a support race to the 24 Hours of Le Mans at La Sarthe. Wadoux took a storming victory from pole position.
Rdest also had a positive season in Alpine Europa Cup, scoring her first podium at Magny Cours and a further top-five finish at Spa Francorchamps.
The fastest Polish woman is at her third appearance at Le Castellet in the Alpine A110 Cup car, having made a guest entry in 2019 where she finished 6th.
Her remarkable result kickstarted her involvement in Alpine Europa Cup – as well as with the Alpine brand itself, for which she became an ambassador.
In 2020, Gosia’s trip to Paul Ricard was also one of her most successful, as she finished three times in P6. “Historically, Circuit Paul Ricard is a track where I am doing very well behind the wheel of the Alpine A110 Cup” – commented Rdest. “This is partly because this is where I have done the most races in this car. It will be very hard to replicate such an outstanding result as last year, but there is still potential for even better.” – she added.
The first Friday practice session was early red-flagged for an incident, before Gosia Rdest slotted in second position at the restart. The Chazel Technologie’s racing driver would eventually finish in 9th place in the closing stages. Lilou Wadoux set the early pace and remained on top of the timing screens throughout the session – only to be topped by Hugo de Wilde by 0.101 seconds at the end of the session.
The second practice was not the most representative session, as it was run in the night and under artificial lights – with no other session scheduled for the same conditions later in the weekend.
Wadoux once again followed De Wilde, but was demoted to third by Lucas Frayssinet.
Rdest finished in P11.
Saturday’s qualifying – valid for Race 1 – was earlier in the morning and saw Belgian challenger Ugo De Wilde taking pole position from defending champion Méla and Simon Tirman (Autosport GP). Laurent Hurgon rounded out the second row, while Lilou Wadoux was a bit further down in seventh – just ahead of Gosia Rdest, as the two women lined up on row 4.
The race was tightly fought from the start, with De Wilde, Méla and Tirman going side-by-side into Turn 1 for the lead. De Wilde initially held on, but the #01 of Méla managed to get ahead at the chicane.
Behind them, there were even more heated battles in the top-ten: Gosia Rdest had a good start from eighth, but then got caught in the first lap action and dropped to tenth. Initially defending from Rdest, Lilou Wadoux sneaked ahead of Tierce for sixth and was quick to get into the clutches of Meric and Frayssinet.
Wadoux made a move at the final corner, but Meric went wide and rejoined ahead of the Patrick Roger-sponsored Alpine. While initially a message from the race direction instructed Louis Meric to give the position back, the decision was reversed and he could keep P5.
Laurent Hurgon attacked and passed De Wilde, but the Belgian – the fastest driver since Friday practice – fought back. This position switch, though, allowed Jean Baptiste Méla to break away.
On lap 3, Gosia Rdest found a way past Mathieu Blaise and moved into ninth place.
By lap 5, Herrero Racing’s Ugo De Wilde had closed the gap to the leader with an impressive fastest lap and, with 10 minutes left on the clock, he started to look menacing in Méla’s mirrors. The Belgian went for the move at Turn 1 and re-claimed the top spot in spectacular fashion.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Auriacombe and Philippe Bourgois made contact at Turn 1; the former rejoined, while the Belgian driver retired. Maxime Hassid was just as unlucky: he spun at speed at Signes and was followed in the run off by Fournier. A livid Hassid would also retire in the pits.
Wadoux spent all the race in Meric’s slipstream but struggled to find a way past. She made another attempt at the last corner – but her rival once again went wide and kept the position.
Gosia Rdest was gaining on Corentin Tierce, but not enough to put pressure.
The fight for the lead was back in full force on the final lap: Méla tried all in his power, but De Wilde held on and crossed the finish line to take a hard-fought victory. Laurent Hurgon completed the podium over 5 seconds behind, in a small train of cars that saw Lilou Wadoux crossing the line in sixth position.
“Qualifying was very difficult compared to practice, I don’t know why but it was more complicated to drive the car this morning for some reason.” – Wadoux told us after the race. “Starting from seventh, it was difficult to overtake the other cars.”
“I think it will be difficult to win the title now, the gap is big, but we will see.” – she concluded.
Gosia Rdest was ninth, in an overall positive race for points. The Polish racer will try to move further ahead tomorrow, in the Alpine Europa Cup tenth race of the season. The second qualifying will start at 09:15, while the second race is set to get underway at 16:35 CEST.