DE WILDE RUNS WILD AGAIN IN VIRTUAL FUNCUP EUROPE AT DIJON
After dominating the opening round at Assen a couple of weeks ago, Ugo de Wilde continued his current reign over the Virtual Fun Cup Europe championship by winning from pole position at the latest round at Dijon in France.
The evening began for de Wilde as he expected it to continue after he grabbed the pole in qualifying but only by two one-hundredths of a second from Max Lienard on the front row, while Julien Schein would start alongside top British driver Riley Phillps who could only manage 4th fastest time. Fellow UK racers Piers Stockton and Jay Shepherd came next, followed by a fourth row consisting of David de Saeger and Antoine Lachieze, with Antoine’s sibling Louis starting just behind him.
Lienard and de Wilde left the line side by side and remained that way into the first corner, with the former taking the lead and bringing Phillips with him to momentarily push de Wilde down to 3rd before he repassed Phillips for 2nd place. By the end of the opening lap, Lienard led from de Wilde while in 3rd place, Shepherd had dived past Schein at the end of the pit straight, while Stockton, DE Saeger and the Lachieze siblings followed suit. De Wilde pushed his nose in front to take the lead as Schein did the same on Phillips to snatch back 3rd, while the Lachiezes were giving Stockton cause for concern as he grimly tried to hang on to 5th place.
The top four were quickly able to distance themselves from the rest of the field in just a handful of laps, leaving them in their own private battle for the win. Schein dropped Phillips to challenge Lienard for 2nd place and took the place at the long Villeroy corner at the end of the pit straight, but Lienard attempted to grab it back at the same place a lap later to no avail. The pair appeared to be attempting to work together, although that came to nothing when Schien bumped the rear of Lienard’s car through the Sablieres esses, leaving him sliding onto the run-off tarmac and dropping back to 4th, but thankfully still ahead of everyone else.
Schein pressed on in his efforts to keep up with and catch de Wilde, while behind them Lienard was able to catch and pass Phillips again for 3rd place. However, Phillips was keen not to let the position go that easy and remained glued to the bumper of Lienard over the next few laps as the race approached half distance, but eventually, the gap between the pair grew to more than 2.5 seconds in a matter of laps. Behind them, Stockton was a distant 5th pace ahead of the Lachieze siblings Antoine and Louis, with Jay Shepherd closing onto the back of Louis in a bid to grab 7th place.
The lead gap closed up substantially to the point that the two cars were nose to tail and eventually, Schein sensed his chance and made a move for the lead. His advantage was only brief as de Wilde squeezed back through heading into the first La Bretelle corner, but Schein remained glued to his tail and moved out on the pit straight once again to reclaim the lead. De Wilde gave Schein his own treatment by hanging onto the rear wing of the Vaillante sponsored car and almost managed to make a move at the Parabolique hairpin to no avail. Once again, the two cars swapped places on the pit straight and this would be a theme over the next few laps as both drivers ran together on track in a constant back and forth battle. Meanwhile, Stockton still hadn’t been able to shake the Lachiezes and soon enough it would be Antoine who would start to mount an attack for 5th position with Louis in tow and watching on behind them. Stockton was forced to go defensive on the pit straight as Antoine looked to the outside at Villeroy but didn’t find the room needed to complete the pass. However, a mistake from Stockton on the next lap put paid to this duel, dropping him back down to 8th.
Another brief switch around of the leaders meant de Wilde remained at the head of the field, but then the battle came to an abrupt end when Schein appeared to make an unscheduled trip to the pits, potentially for a penalty, allowing Lienard to climb back up to 2nd place and dropping Schein down to 3rd. From here, the positions at the front remained static and de Wilde was untroubled to the flag, keeping up a 100% win record with his second of the season after his success at the first round at Assen. Lienard recovered well from his earlier contact to finish in P2 while Schein had to make do with 3rd place but could have easily won this race himself. Phillips remained the top UK driver as he took the flag in 4th, joined in the top 5 by Louis Lachieze who put in a silent but strong performance all round. Shepherd also kept out of trouble to finish in 6th place ahead of Antoine Lachieze and Stockton, while Xavier Weil and David de Saeger finished off the top 10 places.