Andrea Kimi Antonelli took a lights-to-flag victory in Formula Regional European Championship race two at Paul Ricard to take the points lead going into the summer break.
Afterwards, Antonelli paid credit to his Prema team for their efforts over the weekend to find the pace that had been missing in race one.
An elated Esteban Masson held off a late challenge from R-ace GP’s Tim Tramnitz to take second place for Sainteloc Racing on his third outing with the team.
Antonelli made a perfect start from pole, maintaining the gap to Masson at around 0.8 seconds through the race’s first half before gradually extending his lead to over 4.4s at the finish.
With track temperatures nudging 50°C, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Kas Haverkort bogged down at the start, giving Masson a free run to the first corner, with Tramnitz and team-mate Martinius Stenshorne slotting in behind.
Haverkort dropped from third to 22nd, but would fight back all the way to 11th. Prema’s Rafael Camara was another to get a tardy getaway, dropping to 26th.
Race one winner Alessandro Giusti was jumped by Laurens van Hoepen after running wide at the final corner of lap one. Giusti was immediately back on his tail into turn one but could not find a way through.
Van Hoepen set off after Arden’s Joshua Duerksen with Giusti still on his gearbox. The ART Grand Prix driver made a lunge on Duerksen into the final corner, with the two running side-by-side past the pits.
As van Hoepen tried to make the move stick, he and Duerksen banged wheels, with the Paraguayan cutting the corner, allowing Giusti to nip past both. The resulting damage forced van Hoepen into retirement.
Behind them, an 11-car battle raged. Haverkort had made it to 11th by passing Michael Belov and was looking to challenge Race Performance Motorsport’s Maceo Capietto for the final points position.
Camara was also looking to find a way past Belov as well and trying to pass Haverkort. Giusti and R-P-M’s Santiago Ramos swapped places twice in their battle for fifth, with Giusti holding on to the flag.
At the front, Antonelli was clear but Tramnitz had closed on Masson having saved his tyres in the hot conditions.
Onto the Mistral straight, Tramnitz – who admitted to Formula Scout that he had maybe left his charge too late – went to the inside going into the chicane but Masson was not prepared to give up positions without a fight.
On the run down to Signes the two were side-by-side but Masson again defended through the corner and Tramnitz had to drop back in behind.
Stenshorne finished fourth after an uneventful race, with rookie honours being poor consolation for losing the points lead to Antonelli.
Duerksen took seventh from KIC Motorsport’s Maya Weug, enjoying another impressive outing, with Trident’s Owen Tangavelou and Capietto completing the top 10.
Race results (16 laps)
|1||Andrea Kimi Antonelli||Prema||32m31.289s|
|2||Esteban Masson||Sainteloc Racing||+4.438s|
|3||Tim Tramnitz||R-ace GP||+4.663s|
|4||Martinius Stenshorne||R-ace GP||+5.461s|
|5||Alessandro Giusti||G4 Racing||+11.323s|
|8||Maya Weug||KIC Motorsport||+13.969s|
|11||Kas Haverkort||Van Amersfoort Racing||+23.834s|
|13||Michael Belov||G4 Racing||+24.892s|
|14||Sami Meguetounif||MP Motorsport||+25.191s|
|15||Marcus Amand||ART Grand Prix||+25.762s|
|17||Victor Bernier||MP Motorsport||+26.828s|
|18||Kirill Smal||Monolite Racing||+26.923s|
|19||Matias Zagazeta||R-ace GP||+27.394s|
|21||Joshua Dufek||Van Amersfoort Racing||+30.935s|
|22||Emmo Fittipaldi||Sainteloc Racing||+33.115s|
|23||Lucas Medina||Sainteloc Racing||+34.105s|
|24||Enzo Scionti||Monolite Racing||+36.938s|
|25||Giovanni Maschio||Monolite Racing||+41.300s|
|26||Niels Koolen||Van Amersfoort Racing||+42.617s|
|27||Charlie Wurz||ART Grand Prix||+58.130s|
|28||Ivan Klymenko||KIC Motorsport||+1 lap|
|Ret||Laurens van Hoepen||ART Grand Prix|
|Ret||Pierre-Alexandre Provost||G4 Racing|
|Fastest lap: Antonelli, 2m00.688s