Reigning PURE ETCR champion Mattias Ekström was awarded the ‘King of the Weekend’ title in Pau after winning his SuperFinal in the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup.
Having topped all of his sessions on Saturday, Ekström was one of the favourites going into Sunday’s sessions.
The track action kicked off in the morning with four Semi Finals in the two pools (named ‘Pool Fast’ and ‘Pool Furious’), followed by the two SuperFinals later in the day.
Pool Fast Semi Finals
The first of the ‘Pool Fast’ Semi Finals ended up being an affair contested solely by former DTM drivers, as the two EKS CUPRAs of Adrien Tambay and Tom Blomqivst lined up on the middle and inside respectively, with Romeo Ferraris’ Maxime Martin on the outside line.
Tambay was quickest off the line, and held the lead throughout. The Frenchman soon opened up a comfortable advantage, as Blomqvist came under pressure for second but Martin ultimately couldn’t find a way through.
The win for Tambay gave him the pole position for his ‘Pool Fast’ SuperFinal later in the day.
The second Semi Final was between the Hyundais of Jean-Karl Vernay, disqualified from his Quarter Final on Saturday, team-mate Norbert Michelisz and the Romeo Ferraris’ Giulia of Luca Filippi.
Like in the first Semi Final, it was the middle starter who gained the lead, with Michelisz ahead into Turn 1 whilst Vernay slotted into second and the slow-starting Filippi in third.
The trio remained close all through the first lap and going on to lap two Filippi muscled past Vernay for second into Turn 2, the two rubbing doors in the process.
Vernay then used his boost to fight back and reclaim the place on the run to Turn 3. Vernay then soon caught back up to the tail of Michelisz, whilst Filippi dropped back with an issue with his car.
Michelisz nevertheless held on to win the heat by two seconds from his French rival.
Pool Fast Semi-Final 1 Results
|1||27||Adrien TAMBAY||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||3||4:24.178||1:24.654||2|
|2||10||Tom BLOMQVIST||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||3||1.620||1:24.792||1|
|3||36||Maxime MARTIN||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||3||1.860||1:24.660||3|
Pool Fast Semi-Final 2 Results
|1||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||3||4:29.494||1:25.786||2|
|2||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||3||2.123||1:25.707||1|
|3||25||Luca FILIPPI||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||3||10.606||1:31.415||3|
Pool Furious Semi Finals
Battling in the first ‘Pool Furious’ Semi Final was CUPRA’s Mattias Ekström on the inside, Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona in the middle and Romeo Ferrari’s Bruno Spengler on the outside.
Reigning champion Ekström took the lead at the start, as Spengler made a better start than Azcona to assume second off the line, quickly moving across.
Ekström then ran away with the heat as Spengler was under constant pressure from Azcona behind, but the Spaniard was unable to find a way past, despite nudging the Canadian on the final lap.
The second Semi Final, between Romeo Ferraris’ Giovanni Venturini, CUPRA’s Jordi Gené and Hyundai’s Kevin Ceccon, was again decided at the start.
From the inside, Venturini claimed the lead, whilst Gené held second at Turn 2, as Ceccon tried an ambitious move that saw him go wide and lose time.
Thereafter Venturini wasn’t challenged for the win, and at the end of the heat Ceccon caught up with Gené and very nearly claimed second, missing out by just three tenths of a second.
Pool Furious Semi-Final 1 Results
|1||1||Mattias EKSTRÖM||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||3||4:19.551||1:24.341||1|
|2||7||Bruno SPENGLER||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||3||3.726||1:25.039||3|
|3||96||Mikel AZCONA||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||3||4.406||1:25.327||2|
Pool Furious Semi-Final 2 Results
|1||21||Giovanni VENTURINI||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||3||4:22.651||1:24.691||1|
|2||28||Jordi GENÉ||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||3||1.100||1:24.983||2|
|3||31||Kevin CECCON||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||3||1.321||1:24.491||3|
Pool Fast SuperFinal
Only five cars lined up for the first SuperFinal, as Michelisz started from the pitlane after late checks on an issue.
After a short hold, Tambay and Blomqvist, the two front-row starters, assumed the lead into Turn 1, ahead of Martin, Vernay and Filippi.
As Vernay looked for a way past Martin at Turn 2, he was blocked and then Martin moved over – in the process, Filippi used his boost on the run to Turn 3 to pass the pair of them.
Martin breezed back past team-mate Filippi on the following tour, and on lap three Vernay tried to get past Filippi on the run to Turn 3.
However, there was contact between the pair, pitching Filippi into the armco and out of the race.
Vernay found himself in third by the end of the lap, also past Martin, but the Hyundai driver had used significantly more boost than his rival in the process.
Martin then blasted past Vernay as they headed on to lap seven, the Belgian enjoying much more boost than his rival who was unable to deploy his own having run out.
Tambay, meanwhile, cruised to a SuperFinal victory on his ETCR début, heading a CUPRA 1-2 ahead of Blomqvist, who had to fend off heavy late-race pressure from Martin.
Pool Fast SuperFinal Results
|1||27||Adrien TAMBAY||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||8||11:32.960||1:25.453||1|
|2||10||Tom BLOMQVIST||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||8||1.773||1:25.459||2|
|3||36||Maxime MARTIN||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||8||2.863||1:25.472||3|
|4||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||8||5.059||1:24.903||5|
|5||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||8||48.130||1:26.480||4|
|6||25||Luca FILIPPI||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||2||DNF||1:26.043||6|
Pool Furious SuperFinal
Reigning champion Ekström started from pole for the five-car SuperFinal, with Venturini unable to take the start due to the damage his car, shared with Filippi, had sustained in the earlier SuperFinal.
From last on the grid, Ceccon boosted to try to go around Spengler for second at the first corner, but found himself off-line and dropped to fourth, with Gené making a poor start to drop to the rear in fifth.
At the end of the opening lap, Azcona powered past Spengler to claim second, and immediately closed in on the leading CUPRA.
Ekström and Azcona were bumper-to-bumper for the rest of the race, but despite applying significant pressure to the Swede, Azcona was unable to find a way past on the narrow street circuit and Ekström claimed the win, also giving him the King of the Weekend accolade for scoring the most points throughout all sessions.
Pool Furious SuperFinal Results
|1||1||Mattias EKSTRÖM||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||8||11:29.329||1:24.830||1|
|2||96||Mikel AZCONA||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||8||0.207||1:24.572||3|
|3||7||Bruno SPENGLER||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||8||4.764||1:25.942||2|
|4||31||Kevin CECCON||Hyundai Motorsport N||Hyundai Veloster N ETCR||8||5.307||1:25.264||6|
|5||28||Jordi GENÉ||CUPRA EKS||CUPRA e-Racer||8||12.960||1:26.099||5|
|NS||21||Giovanni VENTURINI||Romeo Ferraris||Alfa Romeo Giulia ETCR||–||DNS||N/A||4|
Indeed, CUPRA EKS enjoyed a strong weekend all around, with Tambay in second on 92 points and Blomqvist in third on 79 points. The best of the rest was Azcona (72) followed by Spengler (61) etc.
“A dream result finishing 1,2,3 on our first weekend with CUPRA EKS,” said Ekström. “Adrien and Tom did a perfect job the whole weekend as well.
“There can only be one winner for sure and I’m happy that it’s me. But I would also be happy for the others and to get maximum points put us in a strong situation to start off the season like this.
“But again, I also have to say it was very hard Super Final and a big fight with Mikel. I know him from last year when he was my team-mate, so it feels like racing my little brother who I gave all the tricks last year and now had to beat them!
“And yeah, he was very fair, but we all pushed very hard. In the end I look forward to more great Battles as there’s lots of racing left this year and can’t wait for the next one in Istanbul.”
The next ETCR round takes place in Turkey at the Istanbul Park circuit on 21 – 22 May.