Arthur Leclerc and Gianluca Petcof were the stars of the show at the second round of the European Formula Regional series at Paul Ricard in France, a stone’s throw from Leclerc’s Monaco home. The two Ferrari Driver Academy students racing for the Prema Powerteam, laid the foundations in qualifying, with Leclerc getting a pole and two seconds on the grids for the three races and Petecof securing a third and two poles.
Race-1. In the first race on Saturday morning, Arthur got away perfectly to settle into the lead, managing the tyres well. However, towards the end of the race, he made a mistake, which nearly let Estonia’s Juri Vips (Red Bull Junior Team/KIC Motorsport) get through. But Leclerc managed to fend him off. In fact, when Vips’ tyres went off towards the end, GIanluca pulled off a daring but legal passing move to go second. A bit later, Vips was passed by Frenchman Pierre-Louis Chovet (Van Amersfoort Racing), losing out on a podium finish. With Olivier Rasmussen managing no better than fifth in the third Prema Powerteam car, Petecof was now out on his own in the lead of the championship.
Race-2. Late on Saturday afternoon, Gianluca made a perfect start from pole in Race-2 after which he simply maintained his lead over Leclerc, who occasionally got as close as just four tenths of a second, but never really managed to attack his FDA colleague, so Petecof took his second win of the season, after the one in Race-3 at Misano, thus consolidating his championship lead.
Race-3. An interested spectator for the final race on Sunday morning was none other than Arthur’s brother and Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver, Charles Leclerc, himself a former FDA student. At the start, the Monegasque profited from a less than brilliant start from Petecof to take the lead, while the Brazilian dropped back to fourth, overtaken by Rasmussen and Vips. Almost immediately, the series leader dispensed with the Dane and then set off in pursuit of the Estonian, who was tailing Arthur. Vips attacked down the Mistral straight, but Leclerc defended well and while these two scrapped, Gianluca was able to catch up to the Estonian. Shortly after half distance, the Brazilian made a decisive move down the start-finish straight to go second. In the closing stages, Petecof closed on Leclerc but never posed a real threat, settling for the runner-up spot, to head the classification on 116 points, to Leclerc’s 111, whose two wins this weekend bring his season total to three. The championship takes a two-week break now, back in action at Spielberg over the weekend of 11-13 September.