Home Formula RegionalEurocup-3 Javier Sagrera wins Eurocup-3’s chaotic season opener at Spa

Javier Sagrera wins Eurocup-3’s chaotic season opener at Spa

by Ida Wood

Photo: MP Motorsport

The Eurocup-3 season began in difficult circumstances at a rain-hit Spa-Francorchamps this week.

Live timing was not available for the event or the pre-event test, and heavy rain led to practice and the two qualifying sessions on Friday being cancelled. Race one did take place later that day on a wet track and with the first three laps running behind the safety car.

There was 18 minutes left on the race clock when green flags waved, and although laptimes from pre-event testing had been used in determing the grid the nominated poleman Owen Tangavelou (who topped testing by 0.11 seconds) failed to take part.

That meant Javier Sagrera led the field into lap four, ahead of Alexander Abkhazava, Christian Ho, Kirill Smal, Suleiman Zanfari and Emmo Fittipaldi.

Two overtakes brought Fittipaldi up to fourth before the end of that lap, while there was drama behind at Blanchimont as Jose Garfias tried passing Valentin Kluss but they had contact and he ended up on the wet grass.

Noah Lisle struck trouble on lap five and pulled across the track, almost getting hit, while Nikola Tsolov ended his race in the gravel and so the safety car was called back out. Rain started to fall, and Christian Ho stopped near Blanchimont on lap six. That meant racing did not restart until lap eight, by which point visibility and grip had dramatically reduced.

Abkhazava tried passing Sagrera around the outside at Les Combes but ran out of room, cut the next corner and rejoined ahead. By slowing down to let Sagrera back past he obstructed Smal, who then went off. Several drivers ran out of grip at the Bruxelles hairpin and ventured into the runoff, then heavy rain in sector three led to Garfias being pushed into the gravel when he attempted to overtake Zanfari.

The clock hit zero 14s before the end of the lap, and race control decided there would be one more before the finish despite the track being treacherously wet. Nick Gilkes spun at Raidillon, then Luciano Morano crashed heading up Eau Rouge. Once his car had bounced off the barriers it was hit at high speed by Gaspard Le Gallais, who had lost control of his car when he spun at Raidillon. A wheel was ripped off in the collision and it rolled further up the track.

Red flags waved, and the race results were taken from the end of lap seven. That meant Sagrera won by 0.9s over Abkhazava, with Smal a further 0.571s behind in third and Fittipaldi in fourth. Gilkes got the final point in 10th place.

Setting the fastest lap earned Sagrera pole for race two on Sunday, ahead of Smal, Abkhazava, Fittipaldi, Garfias, Ho and Zanfari. Tangavelou is set to start from 25th and last on the grid.

Four hours on from race one, Eurocup-3 is yet to provide updates on the conditions of the drivers involved in crashes.

Race results (7 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Javier Sagrera MP Motorsport 27m24.678s
2 Alexander Abkhazava Sainteloc Racing +0.900s
3 Kirill Smal Palou Motorsport +1.471s
4 Emmo Fittipaldi MP Motorsport +2.538s
5 Suleiman Zanfari Campos Racing +3.112s
6 Jose Garfias Sainteloc Racing +3.568s
7 Valentin Kluss Campos Racing +4.341s
8 Dario Canabelas MP Motorsport +4.977s
9 Theodor Jensen Palou Motorsport +5.113s
10 Nick Gilkes Drivex School +5.707s
11 Michael Shin Campos Racing +6.078s
12 Diego de la Torre Sainteloc Racing +6.363s
13 Daniel Nogales Drivex School +7.275s
14 George Zhuravskiy Drivex School +7.887s
15 Garrett Berry Palou Motorsport +8.855s
16 Luciano Morano Palou Motorsport +9.450s
17 Victoria Blokhina Drivex School +10.796s
18 Bruno del Pino MP Motorsport +16.887s
19 Finley Green Sainteloc Racing +18.471s
20 Gaspard Le Gallais Drivex School +22.614s
21 Isaac Barashi GRS +23.907s
22 Christian Ho Campos Racing +1 lap
Ret Noah Lisle Campos Racing
Ret Nikola Tsolov GRS
DNS Owen Tangavelou MP Motorsport
Pole: Tangavelou, 2m15.501s   Fastest lap: Sagrera, 2m42.458s