France: Alpine ELF Europa Cup
With two hotly contested races that went right down to the wire, the Alpine ELF Europa Cup thrilled the fans at the Coupes de Pâques weekend! Winners of the opening two rounds of the season at Nogaro, Mateo Herrero (Milan Compétition) and Mike Parisy (CMR) lead the way in the general classification.
Following pre-season testing last month; the field returned on Saturday to Nogaro for free practice. Gaël Castelli (CMR) set the pace with a best time of 1:34.271s in the first session, a new record for the category at Circuit Paul Armagnac.
RACE 1: HERRERO TAKES THE OPENER
In qualifying, Mateo Herrero won the pole by a scant 0.033s from Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition) at the conclusion of a session cut short by the incident of Mike Parisy.
Despite a few sprinkles, the field started on slicks. Mateo Herrero maintained the lead while Gaël Castelli got past Nicloas Milan in a field marked by an incident involving Julien Neveu (Autosport GP), Rodolphe Wallgren (Milan Compétition) and Mike Parisy.
As the laps ticked off, the race intensified and a proper five-driver battle formed for the victory amongst Mateo Herrero, Gaël Castelli, Nicolas Milan, Laurent Hurgon (Autosport GP) and Marc Guillot (Milan Compétition).
Constantly hounding the leader, Gaël Castelli couldn’t find an opening. Behind, things heated up between Laurent Hurgon and Marc Guillot. They relegated Nicolas Milan to fifth before Marc Guillot made an unsuccessful bid to pass Laurent Hurgon for third place.
Three days after celebrating his 17th birthday, Junior driver Mateo Herrero took the win with a 0.6s margin of victory from Gaël Castelli. Laurent Hurgon completed the podium ahead of Marc Guillot and Nicolas Milan.
Yann Zimmer (CMR) won his battle with Antoine Miquel (Milan Compétition) for sixth place while Mike Parisy, Vincent Beltoise (Racing Technology) and Julien Fébreau (Racing Technology) – winner in the Gentlemen category – rounded out the top ten.
RACE 2: PARISY GETS HIS REVENGE
The second qualifying session was even more contested than the first as Mike Parisy won the pole by less than a tenth of a second from Yann Zimmer, Mateo Herrero and Vincent Beltoise. Proof that the competitiveness of the Alpine ELF Europa Cup, the first nine were covered by less than a quarter of a second!
At the start, Mike Parisy held his advantage from Yann Zimmer while Vincent Beltoise surprised Mateo Herrero. Two laps later, the field bunched up when Mike Parisy went through the gravel. Yann Zimmer tried a move to take the lead, but Vincent Beltoise, Mateo Herrero and Marc Guillot took advantage of his optimism to gain position.
Vincent Beltoise pressured Mike Parisy, but the race leader firmly protected his position. The return of Mateo Herrero behind his rival allowed him to pull away, but the winner of race one was overtaken by Marc Guillot, Yann Zimmer and Nicolas Milan in the aftermath.
Mike Parisy managed his lead to go on for the win ahead of Vincent Beltoise while Yann Zimmer completed the podium after he got around Marc Guillot on the last lap.
Following the retirements of Nicolas Milan, and Laurent Hurgon on lap 10, Gaël Castelli was promoted fifth place ahead of Mateo Herrero, once again the highest finishing Junior. Julien Neveu was seventh ahead of Antoine Miquel while Jean-Baptiste Mela and Gentleman driver Rodolphe Wallgren completed the top ten.
The Alpine ELF Europa Cup will be back in action next month at the Hockenheimring on May 24-26.
Alpine shined throughout the Easter weekend at Nogaro. In addition to the hotly contested races among the Alpine A110 Cup cars, the Alpine A110 GT4 of Stéphane Lémeret and Pierre-Alexandre Jean scored a double win to take the lead in the general classification of the French FFSA GT Championship.
Mateo Herrero (winner race 1, leader in the general classification)
“The assessment of my first round in the Alpine ELF Europa Cup is really positive. I won my first race on Sunday and I am really proud considering the experience of my adversaries. The second was a little more difficult, but I had the pace. I thought that the differences between the cars would be greater, but I was able to quickly adapt. Now it is time to get ready for the next round at Hockenheim. Looking at my results, I might have a target on my back, but the most important thing is that the performance is there when it counts!”
Mike Parisy (winner race 2)
“We were rather comfortable in practice, but we went into a downward spiral with a technical issue caused by an off in qualifying, then contact in race one. We wanted to come back strong to pick up our pace and that is exactly what we did in taking the pole. I was able to use all my experience to manage the traffic and build a lead at the opportune moment. Once was clear, I was able to keep the field at bay and win this race, which compensates for our somewhat negative first day. Despite my experience, I am a bit of a novice in this very competitive, exciting and pleasing championship. I am having a great time with the Alpine A110 Cup. We will now continue to work on the car with the CMR team before heading to the international circuits. This is an encouraging start, but there is still a long way to go!”
Julien Fébreau (VIP driver)
“This was a fantastic weekend. I knew from my first lap that it would be a lot of fun. I was just concerned that I wouldn’t progress as much as I wanted, but I did it and it’s a great satisfaction, as is my victory in the Gentlemen category! I got my first look at the Alpine A110 Cup Saturday morning. It is a very easy car to understand and never violent. As the laps went by, I reduced the gap to the leaders from four seconds to 1.4s. It’s still motor racing, but you can really try to find your limits right from the start, even on a formidable circuit like Nogaro. Whether you are a novice, gentleman or professional, I believe everyone can find their pleasure and challenge. It is both a learning car and a race car when you see the exceptional skill level of the drivers at the sharp end of the order… And I am not even mentioning how popular it is!”