CUPRA EKS driver Mattias Ekström got off to a fantastic start in his FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup campaign at the Infinite Reality Race FR at the Circuit de Pau Ville, while CUPRA EKS led the season opener by taking the top three after two exciting DHL Super Finals.
The sun shone on Pau as Ekström was crowned king of the weekend after an almost flawless showing of the winner of the FIA ETCR predecessor PURE ETCR. Ekström’s only faux pas this weekend was reversing into the pit lane, for which he was fined by the stewards.
The Swede drove through Saturday’s qualifying sessions with the top time in both Q1 and Q2 of his FURIOUS pool, then won his quarter-final with ease as his rivals clashed. Sunday dawned cool and damp and despite both previous Pole FAST pole-sitters losing their advantage of the line in the semi-final, Ekström found no problem with his pole and rode to victory as the action took place behind him between Azcona and Spengler.
Second in the weekend’s standings was Ekström’s CUPRA EKS team-mate Adrien Tambay in Pool FAST, who impressed all weekend with his approach and aptitude on a track he loves. Tambay was perfectly off the line in his morning Semi-Final and won his DHL Super Final in unparalleled fashion as things didn’t go as well behind him as Battles followed.
Third in the standings was Tom Blomqvist, who impressed all weekend but fell victim to Tambay from his morning pole of the semi-final and finished behind Tambay in the Super Final, despite constant pressure from Maxime Martin.
During the Pau Motors Festival, of which Infinite Reality Race FR was a part, more than 100,000 people visited the charismatic city of Pau on the northern edge of the Pyrenees in southwestern France. The spotlight on Pau Motors Festival has been a revival of and highlighting new technologies, notably represented by the inaugural event of the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup.
While the sun certainly shone for three quarters of the CUPRA EKS squad, things were not so rosy elsewhere. The highest placed non-CUPRA EKS driver was Hyundai Motorsport N’s Mikel Azcona, who went out of his way to battle former teammate Ekström in the final, leaving Pau behind Blomqvist by seven points.
Bruno Spengler was the best Romero Ferrari driver, enjoyed great fights and won his semi-final. His teammate Maxime Martin also adapted well to the series, also on his debut.
Hyundai Motosport N’s Jean-Karl Vernay was unable to achieve home glory thanks to Saturday’s disqualification from his quarterfinals due to a power mismatch, but was said to be involved in the weekend’s biggest and most controversial incident when he collided with Luca Filippi of Romeo Ferraris in an incident that forced the Giulia to stop for the rest of the day, depriving Giovanni Venturini of the chance to participate in his Super Final.
The incident – which can be seen here – was ruled no further action from the stewards, despite the anger expressed by the Romeo Ferraris squad.
Elsewhere, Vernay’s teammate Norbert Michelisz had to start his Super Final from the pit lane due to a technical issue. Jordi Gené did not enjoy the end of the weekend he would have liked in terms of finishing position and Kevin Ceccon was happy with his start to the season.
FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup action resumes in two weeks with Race TR at Istanbul Park on May 20-22
Weekend Driver Points
Ekström 100 (FURIOUS)
Tambay 92 (FAST)
Blomqvist 79 (FAST)
Azcona 72 (FURIOUS)
Spengler 61 (FURIOUS)
Martin 56 (FAST)
Vernay 45 (FAST)
Michelisz 43 (FAST)
Gené 30 (FURIOUS)
Ceccon 28 (FURIOUS)
Venturini 24 (FURIOUS)
Filippi 15 (FAST)