23 May Louis Delétraz Steps Up in Spa to Second in Formula V8 3.5 Championship
Following his opening round win in Aragon and solid points performance in Hungary, it was a weekend of mixed fortunes for 2015 Formula Renault NEC Champion, Louis Delétraz and his Fortec Motorsports team in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium this weekend. However, a third place trophy and race one Rookie win secured him second place in the Drivers’ Championship by Saturday evening.
Fortec team mate, Pietro Fittipaldi, endured a difficult weekend when a coming together and then technical gremlins during a typically wet Belgian Sunday decided that round four was not to be the Brazilian’s event.
Two collective test sessions kicked off proceedings at the world renown venue on Friday with Louis finding good pace straight out of the box to set the fourth and third fastest lap times consecutively. Pietro put in a solid performance around the 7,000 metres long race track in the Ardennes region of Belgium to end the day in P5 and P12 respectively.
After the Fortec Motorsport pair qualified for race one on Saturday morning, the pole-sitting car of Matthieu Vaxiviere (SMP Racing) was found to be in breach of Parc Ferme regulations. With car #23 penalised with a time disqualification, Louis and Pietro were promoted to P5 and P11 for the start of race one in the afternoon.
From the third row of the grid Louis had made a move up to P4 by the end of the first lap. Pietro fought his way skilfully through the mid-field to make up five places and run in P6 until disaster struck him on the final lap. The 2015-16 MRF Challenge Champion was on to pick up valuable points when a coming together with Johnny Cecotto Jr (RPM) meant that the pair went off at Campus Complex, ending their race.
In an intense battle for P2 it was AVF driver, Tom Dillmann who took the spoils at the chequered flag, whilst Louis Delétraz took his second third place podium and fifth top Rookie trophy in his fifth top-five finish in as many races.
It was once again dry for running on Sunday morning with Louis and Pietro qualifying in P6 and P10. However, a downpour commencing 90 minutes before race two showed no sign of easing ahead of the line up on the grid in the afternoon.
The first 10 minutes of the race took place behind the safety car and after trouble starting on the grid Louis re-joined the pack as the track went green. Unfortunately, an issue with his Fortec machine meant that he was unable to complete the first flying lap and retired from the race.
Pietro Fittipaldi was running in a solid fifth position when the safety car re-emerged for another four laps procession. His race also ended prematurely when he brought his Dallara-Zytek charger to a stop at pit lane entrance on lap seven of the 13 lap contest.
The fifteen points haul from race one puts Louis Delétraz in second place in the 2016 Driver’s Championship with 77 points. His defending championship team, UK based Fortec Motorsports, currently sits in fourth position on the Teams’ table with 88 points, a mere one point from the third spot held by the Lotus team.
Louis Delétraz, car #1 Fortec Motorsports
“We had an okay weekend. Practice went well and I was able to go from 6th to third for some good points in race one and move up a place in the championship. In race two we had a technical issue, but that’s motorsport and we can make up those points as the season progresses.”
Pietro Fittipaldi, car #2 Fortec Motorsports
“We had the potential for top five finishes, may be a podium in the second race, but I got knocked out of race one and in the second one my car cut out when we were running in fifth. It really wasn’t a great weekend, so we shall just have to look forward to the next and work even harder for that one.”
Richard Dutton, Team Owner, Fortec Motorsports
“Both Pietro and Louis showed great pace throughout the weekend and they had the speed to win the first race. Solid points for Louis in third, but unfortunately Pietro was taken out on the last lap. Race two was looking good for Pietro until the car stopped with most probably water in the electronics which took him out of a certain fourth place. Louis also had an electrical failure on his first flying lap after the pace car went in, but we’ll stay positive and head to Paul Ricard fully focussed to make amends.”
The next stop for Formula V8 3.5 series will be on 25-26 June 2016, when the HHHT at Paul Ricard, southern France hosts round five on the nine-event European calendar.