New Clio Cup made its much anticipated competitive debut at Circuit Paul Armagnac de Nogaro. Like its glorious ancestors, New Clio Cup from Renault Sport Racing was a real eye-catcher from the outset, offering intense and exciting races. Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition) made history with this fifth generation, taking a brace of victories, but the competition is not about to throw in the towel!
On Thursday, New Clio Cup made its on track debut in the Clio Cup France and Spain, which were reunited to write the first pages in this new chapter. While Clement Chetcuti (GPA Racing) set the best first time, four other drivers took turns at the top of the time sheet during the four sessions: Kevin Jimenez (GPA Racing), Mathieu Lannepoudenx (Milan Compétition), Thibaut Bossy (TB2S) and David Pouget (GPA Racing).
RACE 1: MILAN USES EXPERIENCE
The first drama took place in qualifying. Isidro Callejas (Chefo Sport) took the pole for race 1 by just 0.002s from David Pouget, but the youngest driver in the field received a 12-place penalty due to a technical error from his team.
Promoted to pole, David Pouget held on to the lead against Nicolas Milan and a field turned on its head in this first start with New Clio Cup. Anthony Jurado (Milan Compétition) moved up to third place ahead of Alexandre Albouy (GPA Racing) and Mathieu Lannepoudenx.
The race order quickly changed when Nicolas Milan took the lead on lap two with a strong inside overtake just before Clement Chetcuti’s accident brought out the safety car.
The battle heated up at the restart with Nicolas Milan, David Pouget and Anthony Jurado in a three-way battle for the lead. Anthony Jurado moved into the lead, but Nicolas Milan retook command of the race two laps later before Anthony Jurado went wide in his duel with David Pouget. After dropping several positions with his second off track excursion, Anthony Jurado was forced to call it a day.
The fight for the win came down to a duel between Nicolas Milan and David Pouget. Despite the attacks of the latter, the five-time Clio Cup France champion held on to win the first race in the history of New Clio Cup. Alexandre Albouy completed the podium ahead of Junior category winner and Clio Cup newcomer Romain Boeckler (BRS Racing Team).
Starting ninth, Kevin Jimenez came home fifth ahead of defending champion Dorian Guldenfels (TB2S), Mathieu Lannepoudenx, Thibaut Bossy and Isidro Callejas. Corentin Tierce (Milan Compétition) rounded out the top ten. Laurent Dziadus (Team Lucas) took the honours in the Gentleman category at the conclusion of a spectacular midfield battle.
RACE 2: MILAN DOUBLES UP
With the fastest time in the second qualifying session, David Pouget once again started from pole position, this time ahead of Isidro Callejas and Nicolas Milan. From row two, Nicolas Milan got the best start to take the lead at turn one, while David Pouget managed to hold on to second place ahead of Thibaut Bossy, Anthony Jurado and Isidro Callejas.
After a safety car period to allow for the removal of Corentin Tierce’s Clio Cup, damaged during a very animated opening lap, Nicolas Milan maintained the lead despite pressure from David Pouget and Thibaut Bossy. The leading trio quickly pulled away from the field led by Anthony Jurado, then by Isidro Callejas when he found his way past on lap five. Three laps later, the Spaniard caught up to the leaders and overtook Thibaut Bossy before putting in a series of fastest race laps.
With four laps to go, Isidro Callejas surprised David Pouget before threatening Nicolas Milan just until the chequered flag, but the experienced Frenchman used all of his vast experience to keep his pursuer at bay.
Nicolas Milan made it a clean sweep while the youngest driver in the field had to settle for a second Junior win in Clio Cup Spain. David Pouget completed the podium, followed by Thibaut Bossy and Kevin Jimenez, who got past Anthony Jurado. Dorian Guldenfels finished seventh ahead of Mathieu Lannepoudenx and Romain Boeckler, who took his second success in the Junior category after the spin of Doriane Pin (GPA Racing). Twelfth, Samuel Chaligne (T2CM) was best among the Gentlemen.
With his pair of wins, Nicolas Milan leads the general classification ahead of David Pouget and Kevin Jimenez. In the Junior category, Romain Boeckler leads the way while Laurent Dziadus, Samuel Chaligne and Franck Niclot (GPA Racing) are covered by two points in the Gentleman category.
After this opening round chalk-full of emotions and crowned with success for New Clio Cup’s racing debut, the paddock will meet up in three weeks for round two of the season at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours from September 11th to 13th. It will join the Formula Renault Eurocup, which will contest its fourth round in an action-packed meeting.