Winner of the Clio Cup International Final at Circuit Paul Ricard in November, Jack Young (Eddie Stobart Racing) stamped his authority in the Clio Cup Open held in support of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix. During the same weekend the new Clio for customer racing was presented, the 17-year-old leader of the Clio Cup UK dominated the proceedings with a more than 20 second margin of victory in two spectacular and highly appreciated races by the fans.
44 drivers from the different Clio Cups from around the world participated in the lone free-practice session on Friday where Jack Young set the tone with a best time of 2:26.603s on the Castellet track.
The Englishman was just as impressive in Saturday qualifying. Despite his first laps being deleted for not respecting the track limits, Jack Young led the way with laps of 2:25.665s and 2:25.971s to take the two pole positions on offer.
RACE 1: A CRUSHING VICTORY FOR JACK YOUNG
Jack Young lined up on pole ahead Brett Lidsey (M.R.M.), Antoine Prétin (GPA Racing), Felice Jelmini (Team Composit Motorsport) and James Colburn (West Bourne Motorsport).
Despite a touch of wheelspin, Jack Young held on to the lead while Antoine Prétin and David Pouget got the better of Brett Lidsey during the opening lap that brought the races of Fabrizio Ongaretto (Team Composit Motorsport) and Franck Traynard (Autosport GP) to an early end.
While Jack Young quickly pulled away, the battle was on the boil for second and third positions thanks to the slipstreaming effect. Brett Lidsey managed to answer back, but Felice Jelmini took over second place on lap four while Antoine Prétin retired following contact.
With battles for position throughout the field, Brett Lidsey and David Pouget caught up to Felice Jelmini, who ceded his place before returning the favour on the inside at Signes. Benoît Castagné (Raiwoit Racing by GM Sport) took advantage of the situation to slot into fourth place between David Pouget and Brett Lidsey, but the order changed yet again when Felice Jelmini and Brett Linsey received driver-through penalties as they caused contact.
Jack Young went on to take the chequered flag by more than 20 seconds from David Pouget and Ben Colburn (West Bourne Motorsport), who both started from row four. Eleventh at the start of the race, Benoît Castagné missed out on a podium result for just 0.3s. The Frenchman finished ahead of Albert Legutko and Mickael Carrée (T2CM).
Starting 28th, the GP Extreme leader and future promoter of the Clio Cup Middle East Pierre-Brice Mena (Milan Compétition) made a tremendous march through the field to finish seventh ahead of Emmanuel Raffin (Autosport GP), Guillaume Plubel (GPA Racing) and David Pajot (Vic’Team).
RACE 2: JACK YOUNG DOUBLES UP
The grid for race two was established by the second-best times in qualifying with Jack Young on pole ahead of Brett Lidsey, Felice Jelmini, David Pouget and Antoine Prétin.
Thanks to a picture-perfect start, Jack Young immediately pulled away while Felice Jelmini got the better of Brett Lidsey. Antoine Prétin did the same to David Pouget for fourth place.
Like the day before, the action was intense behind the uncatchable Jack Young. First, Brett Lidsey overtook Felice Jelmini for second place, while Benoît Castagné made the most of the duel between Sandro Soubek (Mair Racing Osttirol) and Edwin Traynard (Autosport GP) and the draft to move from ninth to fourth ahead of David Pajot and Antoine Prétin.
The fight continued as the laps ticked off. Felice Jelmini was back up to second place on lap four, but Benoît Castagné and David Pajot surprised him on the following lap. The Italian answered in the aftermath before Antoine Prétin went on the offensive overtaking Brett Lidsey, David Pajot and Felice Jelmini in succession before retiring with a technical issue. Moments later, David Pouget and Brett Lidsey were definitively excluded from the fight for the podium after contact.
Race leader Jack Young was again the class of the field in taking his second win by more than 20 seconds. This was also his third triumph in as many as starts at Circuit Paul Ricard. Benoît Castagné resisted a final attack from Felice Jelmini to hang for second place ahead of the leader of the Clio Cup Italia.
Fourth at the line, David Pajot received a 30-second penalty for failing to serve a drive-through penalty as he didn’t respect the track limits. Andreas Stucki (Ecurie Basilisk) inherited the position ahead of Albert Legutko, Edwin Traynard and Mickael Carrée. Pierre-Brice Mena made up 14 positions to finish eight. The last top ten of this weekend, which was a unanimous hit with the competitors, was completed by Ben Colburn and Pawel Wysmyk (BM Racing Team).
Jack Young (Eddie Stobart Racing): “I dominated the whole weekend, but there is no such thing as an easy win… This was even more the case in these very hot conditions as I was boiling in the car! I just simply tried to do my best with a car that was perfectly set up by my team. I was also a bit lucky, because I was under pressure in the final minutes in Saturday qualifying. In the races, the goal was to create a gap as quickly as I could. Without their battles in the first corners, they would have stayed right on my back bumper and it would have been a lot different. I want to thank my sponsors and I hope we could be at the Clio Cup Open in Hockenheim to continue our winning streak!"