Defourny Secures Opening Race Win at Motorland

Max Defourny ended the opening round of the 2016 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup second in the championship after securing two podiums at Motorland.

After eight guest appearances in FR2.0 Eurocup last year, and finishing as the highest-placed rookie in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, the Belgian racer will contest a double Renault campaign this year. The teenager returned to the cockpit of R-ace GP, formerly known as the ART Junior Team, after a successful 2015 season with the French team. A neck injury, which made driving painful and caused nausea, forced his absence from the final two days of pre-season testing at Motorland but he caught up well during Friday’s Free Practice sessions.

DCM’s Max returned to the helm of car #33 for Friday practice, one week since the final pre-season test in Aragon. During FP1, the Belgian swiftly got to grips with the car to place second fastest and just +0.03s behind Josef Kaufmann rival, Jehan Daruvala. However, in the afternoon, Max finished the day’s running with the fastest time overall – a competitive 1:55.905.

Come qualifying and Max’s morning could not be better as he cemented a double pole position for his first two FR2.0 Eurocup races of 2016, ahead of rookie Lando Norris. This pace came in spite of Max’s sprained neck sustained two weeks prior. After all, the neck is a crucial part of a driver’s strength and fitness, thus further reinforcing the pace of the teenager and his R-ace GP challenger.

Race 1 continued in a similar vein with Max leading the way in a dominant fashion to take a lights-to-flag victory and a maximum points haul in the morning. Max was put under immediate pressure by British racer Norris but Max showed maturity to remain untroubled over the 14 lap race. He was joined on the podium by the Josef Kaufmann Racing pairing of Norris and Daruvala. Max was ultimately able to show his true pace against his 23 competitors with the help of calm weather conditions and a largely incident-free race.

After a much deserved podium celebration, Max then had to quickly prepare for Race 2 later in the afternoon. Once again lining up on pole position, Max was joined on the front row by Norris with Dorian Boccolacci just behind in third. Max and Norris were side-by-side into turn one and later dropped to P4. A major incident between Nerses Isaakyan and Sacha Fenestraz caused further disruptions to Max’s second race and did not help the Belgian in his attempt to move back up the order. After an eventful and disrupted race, Max settled for fourth in car #33. However, it was a case of mere damage limitation as he had a chance for redemption in Race 3 on Sunday.

Sunday qualifying was yet another strong performance from Max when he lapped the second fastest time for a third consecutive front row grid slot at the Spanish circuit of Aragon. He once again lined up alongside Norris who looks set to become his main rival throughout the 2016 FR2.0 Eurocup season. While Norris’ session was much drier, Max’s was riddled with puddles after a night of heavy rain. With the weather conditions and his injured neck in mind, it was an impressive show of pace from the teenager. Indeed, so quick was the Belgian over one lap, he was consistently faster than teammates Julien Falchero and Will Palmer on the tarmac of the Aragon circuit.

On Sunday, Max had a faster start and held on to his second place into the first corner by keeping AVF’s signing Harrison Scott behind and remained within a second of pole-sitter Norris throughout Race 3. The two were often side-by-side on the straights and enjoyed a battle for the win with Max ultimately finishing one second behind in a very respectable P2 finish. Above all else, the teenager was once again able to show his true one lap pace with a fastest lap of 1:55.950, a whole -0.2s faster than Norris over one complete lap.

“We were quite confident even with the neck injury and not being able to test on the final two days,” said DCM’s Max after his successful weekend. “Motorland is a good circuit for us as we have tested there a lot and know the track really well. We were happy with our pace over one lap as my session was first thing.”

Max’s one lap pace was among the stories of the Eurocup weekend with the DCM driver proving his natural flair on the Spanish circuit. It was, in all, a successful and promising season opener for Max who will compete in the flagship Renault series again on May 29th when supporting the Monte Carlo F1 Grand Prix for the first time in his career. Although not listed as a rookie for FR2.0 Eurocup, 2016 will mark his first full season in the highly regarded championship. Jack Aitken is the current title holder. Before that, Max will compete again next weekend (22 – 24 April) at Monza when Formula Renault 2.0 NEC gets underway at the European temple of speed.

“We are feeling quite confident about next weekend. It is not too much of an adjustment to make and I have more experience in the NEC car,” he explained ahead of his NEC season opener next weekend. “The Pirelli tyres change the balance a bit but I am still quite confident going there.”

When participating, Max will be among the title favourites after placing as the best rookie and fifth overall in an experienced field last year.

Source: Driver Club Management