Thursday, Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP) became the seventh different pole winner this season in the Formula Renault Eurocup. With his maiden pole in the category at Spa-Francorchamps, the American rookie will start Saturday ahead of the leader in the general classification, Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing), and Renault Sport Academy driver Christian Lundgaard (MP Motorsport).
Less than 72 hours after leaving the Red Bull Ring, the field was back on track Wednesday morning. While Clément Novalak (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Thomas Neubauer (Tech 1 Racing) weren’t in Belgium due to medical reasons, the Formula Renault NEC regulars were out in force.
Scorching suspense in tests
During the three hours of private testing, the contenders gradually found their marks on the mighty circuit. Oscar Piastri (Arden Motorsport) set the fastest lap with a time of 2:18.9112s, whereas Victor Martins (R-ace GP) committed a day ending error.
After just a one-hour break, the first collective tests got underway. Quickly at the head of the pack, Christian Lundgaard was edged in the final minutes by Yifei Ye, Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) and Richard Verschoor (Josef Kaufmann Racing), but the Dane came back to post best in 2:18.683s ahead of the two Dutchmen.
Thursday afternoon, the temperatures climbed to 36°. After a first exchange among Lorenzo Colombo (JD Motorsport), Max Fewtrell (R-ace GP) and Yifei Ye, Alexander Smolyar (Tech 1 Racing) went to the top of the order. Despite a few sprinkles, the times continue to improve late in the session and Victor led the way with a time of 2:19.402s.
Sargeant takes control
Qualifying for race 2 on Saturday, scheduled to start at 11:45, prior to the 24 Hours of Spa was the final order of business. Despite the mush fresh and more humid conditions due to storms in the Belgian Ardenne forest, the entire field headed out on Michelin slicks.
In Group A, Yifei Ye ran alone in the lead of the session. The Chinese set an early best lap of 2:19.703s. Oscar Piastri then went quicker, but the Australian lost his best time for exceeding track limits and had to settle for second ahead of Max Fewtrell.
The second group was the chance take in the duel between Christian Lundgaard and Victor Martins, but Logan Sargeant pulled out all the stops on his final run to take over with a time of 2:19.046s ahead of the two Renault Sport Academy drivers.
On Saturday, Logan Sargeant will start ahead of Yifei Ye, Christian Lundgaard and Oscar Piastri. Victor Martins and Max Fewtrell will share row three. Thomas Maxwell (JD Motorsport), Lorenzo Colombo, Arthur Rougier (Fortec Motorsports) Richard Verschoor will round out the top ten on the grid.
Logan Sargeant (R-ace GP): “The last few races haven’t been easy, but we know we can come back after our strong performances at the start of the season. We just have to put it all together and that is what we did today working as a team on the setups and balance of the car. The hard work paid off! I was confident right from the start and I could push like I wanted to. I expect to firmly defend my position on the straight heading to Combes Saturday!”
Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing): “Today, my only target was to set the fastest lap in my group, because I knew that the other one would be faster. We haven’t done that since Silverstone. It was rather frustrating and I ended making a few mistakes last week at the Red Bull Ring. This time, everything has gone well to this point and I will aim for the pole positions tomorrow morning. We have a good chance of doing and our race simulations were quite promising.”
Christian Lundgaard (MP Motorsport): “I gave it all I had, but it wasn’t enough! I attacked with three laps in the same tenth of a second and that’s all we had! Nevertheless, I don’t think it is a big problem not being on the front row at Spa. The pole winner is rarely in the lead at the end of the opening lap, so I am confident for the race.”