Defourny Scores Podium at Temple of Speed

Max Defourny remains second in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup standings following a podium finish at the third round of the championship in Monza.

Max returned to the temple of speed four months after the season opener of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series in which the Belgian also secured a race victory. The Italian sprint circuit was therefore a familiar sight when Max took to the helm of car #33 for practice.

It was during the Friday sessions that Max reported a lack of pace to his R-ace GP mechanics. Often displaying rapid pace in his Eurocup challenger – which has accumulated in two pole positions – Max settled for sixth and eighth in FP1 and FP2 respectively. The teenager set a 1m 50.093s in the afternoon thus placing him only +0.6s behind the Russian Robert Shwartzman.

Putting his previous troubles behind him for Saturday morning qualifying, Max returned to a repaired car with thanks to the hard work of his R-ace GP mechanics. However, traffic prevented Max from making best use of this pace, forcing 2015 FR2.0 NEC rookie champion to qualify eighth for Races 1 and 2 on the Italian circuit. Crucially for the championship, Max found himself directly behind Dorian Boccolacci – who sits third and just behind the Belgian in the standings – when attempting to set his fastest lap, therefore rendering Max unable to join his rival on the front row.

It was a quiet Race 1 for Max on Saturday who kept his cool while others were engaged in tough battles around him. The rain threatened to throw the race into disarray in the closing moments but held off to allow Max a solid eighth place finish. Max not only added an additional four points to his championship tally but continued an impressive run of points finishes in Eurocup this year, a feat which even title leader Lando Norris has been unable to achieve in the Renault category.

Race 2 was much busier for Max when he returned to the track on Saturday afternoon. Collisions around him – including one between Jehan Daruvala and Will Palmer – introduced the safety car to proceedings with just eight minutes on the clock. It was this which helped open the door for Max; helping him push car #33 from eighth on the grid further up the order. At the restart, Max remained calm to take a place from Swiss racer Hugo de Sadeleer. With his previous one lap troubles behind him, Max further showed his overtaking prowess to keep Sacha Fenestraz at bay on his way to a stunning second place. Saturday afternoon marked Max’s fourth podium of the Eurocup season and sixth overall (including NEC) this year.

Fresh from his second-placed finish, Max had momentum on his side for Race 3 qualifying early on Sunday morning. Technical failures were found to be costing Max straight line speed against his rivals so R-ace GP opted to send their drivers onto the track late into the session. Although this gave Max less time to make an impact on the field, he qualified a solid seventh for the third and final race of the weekend. His time on Sunday was half a second faster than his previous attempt on Saturday, thus demonstrating an improvement in the Belgian’s one lap pace throughout the weekend.

Max’s car lined up seventh on the grid but some time after originally forecast. Delays in Italy forced Max and his 21 rivals to wait more than 30 minutes. In spite of postponement, Max was able to keep his concentration and focus ahead of a crucial race in the championship. To stay second in the championship, the youngster would need to close the gap to his fellow championship contenders Boccolacci and Norris, who had qualified first and third respectively. Once again, a safety car was introduced with 15 minutes on the clock. The change in pace undoubtedly helped Max who then drew closer to his challengers and was ready to pounce in the final stages. In the closing minutes, he was on top form to take fourth place and a seventh consecutive points finish.

“Our pace was good but we were just really unlucky in practice and qualifying,” said Max at the close of his weekend. “Without traffic, I could have qualified second or third.”

Max stays second in the championship with four more rounds remaining. Max will compete in the Eurocup again in two weeks at the Red Bull Ring. He has experience on the Austrian circuit following two points finishes last year. Max will then finish the month with a NEC competition at his home circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.

“It could have been worse so overall we managed very well,” he continued. “The team did a great job to get the car to improve the pace after Friday and help to get me on the podium on Saturday. I hope we can do even better next time.”

Source: Driver Club Management