Pol Lopez passed Louis Schlesser late on to win the reversed-grid race two at the opening round of the French Formula 4 season at Nogaro.
On a grid set by reversing the top 10 from qualifying, Schlesser – the son of double World Sportscar champion and one-time Formula 1 starter Jean-Louis – started second and made a much better getaway than polesitter Luca Savu to lead into the first corner, followed by Lopez who started directly behind him in fourth.
Lopez has begun his sophomore season in much-improved form after never finishing higher than 10th last year, and the Andorra-based Spaniard stayed close with Schlesser in the early stages.
The gap between them briefly jumped up to 1.5 seconds in the middle of the race, but Lopez quickly brought it back down below half a second.
With only a couple of minutes left on the clock, Schlesser went deep at Turn 12, allowing Lopez to get alongside him. They were only 0.079s apart at the start-finish line, and Lopez eventually completed a move down the inside at Turn 4.
Within a lap, a problem with the left-rear wheel of Schlesser’s car was becoming more apparent, and Savu found himself forced onto the grass at Turn 2 as he attempted to get by. Several more drivers did overtake Schlesser before he eventually skated off into the gravel at Turn 7.
Lopez took the win by 3.489 seconds over Enzo Peugeot with Yani Stevenheydens completing the podium.
Race one winner Evan Giltaire finished fourth from 10th on the grid, having climbed to seventh on lap one before passing Romain Andriolo.
Savu finished a distant fifth ahead of Andriolo, with Hiyu Yamakoshi and Kevin Foster rounding out the top eight.
Racing novice Edouard Borgna was tipped into a spin at Turn 2 on the opening lap and retired, while Karel Schulz found the barriers at Turn 12 on lap five, running wide while side-by-side with Finn Wiebelhaus. Joao Paulo Diaz also retired soon afterwards with front-end damage.
Race result (15 laps)
|21||Frank Porte Ruiz||+39.464s|
|23||Louis Schlesser||+2 laps|
|Ret||Joao Paulo Diaz Balesteiro|
|Fastest lap: Lopez, 1m29.590s