Wadoux closes in on Alpine Europa Cup Podium as Rdest is denied solid points
Local talent Lilou Wadoux continued her progresses in the Alpine Europa Cup at Magny Cours, claiming two P4 and almost securing her first podium in the series, while Polish star Gosia Rdest saw her streak of bad luck extending when she was crashed out of the second race.
Just as Alpine is enjoying some of the highest media attention in its history after it was announced that the Renault-group brand would step up to Formula 1 and to LMP1 in the World Endurance Championship in 2021, the one-make series from the French manufacturer made its return to European racetracks last weekend: the Alpine Europa Cup headed for the first time ever to the former home of the French GP at the Magny Cours, which hosted the second round of the 2020 season.
Its two female drivers on the grid had a promising debut in the first round of the championship at Nogaro, where they both had solid battles in the midfield.
19-year old French driver Lilou Wadoux and Polish former W Series racer Gosia Rdest also entered the two scheduled races at Magny-Cours - with Saturday's race being contested for the first time in the darkness of the French night.
Jean-Baptiste Mela (Autosport GP) scored pole position for race 1, ahead of Mateo Herrero (Herrero Racing) and his Autosport GP teammate Laurent Hurgon.
Mela had the better start and retained his lead, while Hurgon snapped second place ahead of Wadoux - as Herrero and Marc Guillott rallycrossed through the gravel at Turn 1 in the night of Magny-Cours.
While Mela could pull away, the battle for third place was on fire. Lilou Wadoux, who had just lost third place, Pierre Sacinena and Antoine Leclerc (both competing for Racing Technology) took advantage from a mistake by Edwin Traynard (Autosport GP) who dropped down the order. Started in 11th position, Louis Méric followed the fight closely with Traynard, but as both made contact, Méric lost control of his car, hit Leclerc and both retired from the race and the Safety Car was deployed.
Again, Mela had a blistering restart, but behind him, Lilou Wadoux and Sancinena fought for the final spot on the podium. Lilou held her position for most of the race, but right before the final lap, Sancinena ovetook her for third and defended hard, denying the French lady of a switchback as she tried to get the position back.
Gosia Rdest, who started from P9, also overtook one competitor on the last lap and finished in eighth place, to score solid points in her second round of the championship.
In the second race, Mela again clinched pole position with a 1:48,631 lap, ahead of Herrero and Hurgon. It was a repeat of the first qualifying session, but not quite a repeat of the race.
Hurgon sweeped through between Mela and Herrero for the lead before Mela conquered the lead back and pulled away.
As Herrero got stuck in the gravel after a spin and Gosia Rdest was crashed out at the hairpin, a Safety Car was called out on track and the gap for Mela was quickly history. But it was nothing to worry about for the Autosport GP driver, as he managed to break away from the pack once again after the restart and took the second victory of the weekend ahead of Hurgon and Sancinena, who again defended his third place against an impressively consistent Lilou Wadoux - who finished again in fourth.
"It just gets better and better." - commented a satisfied Wadoux. The young racer, who made her competitive debut at the age of 16, continued her outstanding progression in her rookie campaign despite limited experience of the Alpine A110 Cup car and of rear-wheel drive cars in general. From seventh place in Nogaro, Wadoux was consistently fighting for the overall podium in Magny-Cours - an achievement that now looks realistically close.
Gosia Rdest, on the other hand, continued her streak of bad luck: the fastest Polish woman was crashed out heavily at the hairpin after a competitor dive-bombed on the inside, wiping away her efforts.
"I was quite upset with Sunday's race as I got crashed." - she explained. "It was quite disappointing. The results were not extremely good, I was running in P9 at the time, but still those were solid points for the championship. The pace was great, however I got crashed, and I was super disappointed because I wasn't able to finish the race and everything that we worked for was taken away from us."
"It's the fourth weekend in a row that something happens not for my fault" - she added, recalling her recent misfortune in the Polish touring car championship.
The third round of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard from 2nd to 4th October, as the race format returns to three races per weekend. After her remarkable improvements, Lilou Wadoux now stands seventh in the points standings (36), one place ahead of Gosia Rdest (17). Rdest, though, will now have a very busy racing schedule as she prepares for the third round of the Polish touring car championship next week.
Additional reporting: Leandre Leber, Gazette Sports