BENYAHIA CROWNED CHAMPION AT HOCKENHEIM, YIFEI YE CLAIMS DOUBLE VICTORY




Michael Benyahia was crowned as the 2017 Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC)
champion after a tense, action-packed double header to conclude the season at
Hockenheim, with Josef Kaufmann Racing's Yifei Ye the victor in both races.

The R-Ace GP driver seized a narrow lead in the standings ahead of team-mate Gilles
Magnus heading into the final round, with a higher placed finish in the finale
securing him the crown.

For Magnus, the weekend unravelled with a drive-through penalty in the opener, and
despite a battling drive to tenth in the second race, he ultimately was forced to
settle for the runner-up spot.

Yifei Ye held off team-mate and double Nurburgring victor Sacha Fenestraz in both
contests, taking advantage of the Franco-Argentine's early race duel with Red Bull
Junior Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport) to extend an unassailable lead.

Though the pairing diced for the lead in the opening exchanges of the final race, a
successful defence from Yifei enabled him to pull away later in the race to complete
a double – his first victories in the championship.

Verschoor would complete the podium in the opening race, with the returning Alex
Vartanyan (Arden) scything his way through the field to claim silverware in race
two.

BM Racing Team's Bartek Mirecki was eventually classified third overall after a
last-gasp attempt at closing the points deficit with sixth in the finale, however
the 21-year old ultimately fell short but can otherwise reflect on a season defined
by consistent points finishes.

Gabriel Aubry (Tech1) and Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) also showed podium-contending
pace across the weekend at the 2.8 mile German Grand Prix venue, with the former
unlucky to have his charge in the final race cut short by damage to his front wing.

Logan Sargeant (R-Ace GP) impressed on his debut after using the weekend at
Hockenheim as an opportunity to familiarise himself with the car and format with a
view to moving into the Formula Renault Eurocup next season, topping the opening
practice session along with a strong fourth-placed finish in race one. Oscar Piastri
(Arden) and James Pull (Josef Kaufmann Racing) also both picked up top-ten finishes.

Thomas Neubauer (Tech1), Charles Milesi and Théo Coicaud (both R-Ace GP) all scored
points at the season finale to round out promising campaigns.

Michael Benyahia said, “I don't think it's really hit me yet, but it feels great so
far. By far this was the hardest race with Gilles [Magnus] always behind me. The
whole race was about keeping track of Gilles and Bartek, because if he [Mirecki] had
gone a little bit too far that would have been a problem for us. I've learnt a lot
this season, like how to play a championship, I think this season has made me a
better driver and I've just really enjoyed it.”


Yifei Ye said, “I have to give a lot of credit to the team who gave us such
fantastic cars to race, it was a very positive weekend – a double pole and double
victory – so I'm very happy about that. After two brilliant qualifying sessions
yesterday, our mindset was to bring the cars home first and second for the team.”

Sacha Fenestraz said, “The start was a little bit hard, I think the right side was a
bit dirty. And then with Richard, it was a little bit hard to overtake him, since he
was quite fast at the beginning. Once I’d gotten past I just had to try to do my
best, go as fast as possible and then try to catch up Yifei, but like yesterday he
did an amazing job and was really fast. I preferred to just take some more
experience in a race situation and keep that second place until the end.”


Richard Verschoor said, “The start was really good, then immediately I saw that
Sacha was far quicker. At the beginning I tried to hold him off, I think we could
have done it for a few more laps but he was so much faster, we just didn’t have the
pace at all. I just let him go, his pace was stronger. I had a little bit of contact
[with Aubry] – I was afraid for a few seconds my rear tyre was flat, but then it was
okay so I just kept pushing – I defended the whole race, actually.”

Images are supplied by Gregory Eyckmans 
2017 FORMULA RENAULT NEC CALENDAR

1 | Italy | Monza | 23-24 June
2 | Netherlands | Assen | 05-06 August
3 | Germany | Nurburgring | 15-16 September
4 | Belgium | Spa-Francorchamps | 22-23 September
5 | Germany | Hockenheimring | 06-07 October