Margaux Verza scores first Top-15 of the season in Alpine Europa Cup
French rookie Margaux Verza had her best weekend to date in the increasingly competitive Alpine Europa Cup, scoring her first top-15 in Zandvoort.
The one-make series Alpine Elf Europa Cup has seen its grid significantly grow in both numbers and competitive level throughout the past couple of seasons, having also become an important stepping stone for young talents looking to move up the ranks of sports cars under the radar of the Alpine brand.
The French manufacturer has in fact returned to the world of motor racing with heavy involvement throughout single seaters, GT racing as well as prototypes – and launched its one make series featuring its A110 Cup GT4 challenger, which turned out to be greatly propaedeutic.
Among the series' graduates we also find one of the most interesting female talents in sports cars, fresh top-ten finisher at her debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – Lilou Wadoux.
Former W Series racer Gosia Rdest has also been a consistent presence on the grid since 2020.
Rdest (Chazel Technologie Course) is not the only female racer on the grid in 2022, as young Frenchwoman Margaux Verza joined the field in the #71 Alpine A110 operated by Patrick Roger Autosport GP. An up-and-coming racing driver as well as motorsport engineer, Verza is contesting a learning-oriented season in the series, but has already shown very encouraging progression in the three opening rounds of the championship.
"This first half of the season has not been the easiest, I have just started a new championship with a new car where the level is very high!" – Verza told us. "A bit of bad luck at Nogaro, some mistakes from me at Magny-Cours and Zandvoort, but that's experience!"
From a 22nd position at the Easter round at Nogaro, to her first top-20 in Magny Cours – up to her first appearance in the top-15 at the demanding Zandvoort circuit, where Verza had a stronger race – her journey in the first half of the Alpine Europa Cup is certainly on a positive trend.
At the series' first visit to the home of the Dutch GP, Margaux Verza qualified in 16th position for the first race of the weekend, while Meric and Frayssinet shared the front row of the grid.
The leading duo was joined at the front by guest starter Nicolas Ciamin, who would keep the pressure in third place throughout the opening stages.
On the second lap, Verza dropped to 24th after a mistake and had to close a gap of over nine seconds to the rest of the pack. Showing some good pace in free air, though, she managed to catch back Sevestre and went past on lap 6. With a strong second part of the race, Margaux continued to make up positions and recovered up to P19.
In a thrilling finale, Frayssinet tried to go around the outside of Louis Meric at Turn 1, opening the door to Ciamin, who grabbed the opportunity to move into second place. Ciamin went for the winning move and attacked Meric on the penultimate lap; the driver of the #110 VIP car managed to get into the race lead after contact but would retire one lap later – paving the way for Lucas Frayssinet's second win of the season. Meric and Traynard rounded out the podium.
After a good recovery drive, Margaux Verza was 19th across the finish line – but it would be on Sunday that the French lady would top her best finish in the series to date.
Former championship leader Simon Tirman started from pole position, alongside points rival Lucas Frayssinet and Paul Cauhaupe. From 17th on the grid, Margaux Verza fought in the midfield for the entire 25 minutes of the second race and aimed at capitalizing on her race pace.
Nicolas Ciamin had another impressive launch from fourth and moved into second place at Turn 1, immediately putting pressure on the race leader Tirman. The action, though, was soon neutralized by the Safety Car when Louis Meric and Alexis Garcin made contact and hit the barriers.
The lengthy recovery meant that the green flag was waved with only 3 minutes left on the clock; Ciamin attacked and passed Tirman for the race lead – the latter ending up in the gravel and losing the podium to Frayssinet and Cauhaupe.
From 16th place, Verza survived the hectic restart and moved into P15 on the final lap – clinching her best result of the season so far.
"We are on a learning curve, we are working really well with all my team and progress is coming slowly but surely" – Margaux said.
"I think the progress will be bigger after the summer break. I'm driving the car more and more, I'm feeling things and I'm starting to have more and more confidence in it, so I have no doubt that we'll continue this momentum", she explained.
With two more points on her championship tally, Margaux Verza now sits 24th in the drivers' standings. The series will now return to the track after a lengthy summer break, with the next round scheduled for 8/10 September at Circuit de Catalunya – where also Gosia Rdest will be back on the grid after missing the Dutch round for her wedding.
After Barcelona, drivers will tackle two more GP circuits, Monza and Paul Ricard.
"I think the round I'm looking forward to the most is Monza, I cannot wait to discover that circuit, but I'm also looking forward to Barcelona and Paul Ricard", Verza continued.
"In fact, I can't wait to be back with my Autosport GP team and my little car!"