Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco has secured his maiden Euroformula Open Championship victory following a brilliant drive to the flag in the penultimate race of the 2017 season in Barcelona this afternoon.
Having started in third position on the grid DeFrancesco was fast from the word go to immediately clinch second place as his own and took the lead following an off for leader Felipe Drugovich. DeFrancesco held his nerve well throughout a safety car restart to cross the line and take his first victory in the series. The Canadian racer was joined on the podium by Carlin team mate Ameya Vaidyanathan who also launched incredibly well off the line and remained close behind DeFrancesco for the entirety of the race to claim second as his own. Guilherme Samaia meanwhile enjoyed a strong race to a points paying position and crossed the line in a solid ninth place.
Off the line for the opening race of the weekend in Barcelona it was an incredible start for all three Carlin men with DeFrancesco quickly moving his way up to second position while Vaidyanathan followed his team mate and gained two positions up to third overall. Brazilian racer Samaia was just a little further back and was also looking good – nicely up to eighth after the first few corners.
Over the next few laps DeFrancesco looked to cut the gap to race leader Drugovich in his efforts to go for his first win of the season and was running close to the Brazilian driver. Just behind however Vaidyanathan in third was coming under slight pressure from Nikita Troitskiy as the top four by this point began to pull a slight lead over the rest of the field.
The shape of the race however changed dramatically after six laps when Cameron Das and Joey Mawson came together which left the pair stranded on track and in turn brought the safety car out. But the drama didn’t stop there; just moments later race leader Drugovich ran off track and in to the gravel leaving DeFrancesco to take the lead of the race as his own with Vaidyanthan just behind in second and Samaia looking strong in eighth as the track action was neutralised.
A short while later and the drivers were free to race once again; DeFrancesco pulled away perfectly to hold a gap over Vaidyanathan who in turn had Troitskiy around the outside of him at the first corner. The Indian racer however fought well to maintain his second position and gain some breathing space over the next couple of laps. Samaia meanwhile was also enjoying a tense race and battling with Tiago Vivacqua with the pair running wheel to wheel.
DeFrancesco, a regular podium sitter over the course of the 2017 season, spent his final few laps with a comfortable gap to Vaidyanthan as the Carlin pair ran their own races free of pressure all the way to the chequered flag. After 19 laps of great racing DeFrancesco claimed his maiden victory in the series and was joined on the podium by Vaidyanathan to ensure a Carlin 1-2 finish. Improving well on his starting slot, Samaia raced his way to a strong points position to take ninth as his own.
Race winner DeFrancesco said, “That was quite a tough race out there today. After qualifying this morning I was a little disappointed to be honest because I knew from Thursday that we really had the pace to be on pole. However on the grid I knew that it was a case of staying calm and maximising everything. I had a great start and then a few laps later I was able to take the lead when Drugovich went off. The Safety Car restart was also pretty strong and then I just ran my own race to take the win. I’ve wanted this victory so badly and I’m so pleased to have done it today. We’ve known all year that we’ve had a great race car so this double podium is great for the team. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow where we look to do it again.”
Joining him on the podium Vaidyanathan said, “I got a good start which gave me a good position to go in to the first corner. From then on, I had the pace to stick with Devlin ahead and we were then both able to capitalise on Drugovich’s mistake. Although I didn’t quite have the legs on Devlin today it felt really good to bring the cars home in a 1-2 for the team today. It feels great to be back on the podium again after a few tough races.”
The final qualifying session and race of the year gets under way tomorrow as the 2017 season draws to a close.