Thanks to a perfect evening, Cem Bölükbaşı brought M2 Competition its first victories in Formula Renault by winning both races at Montreal in the Formula Renault Esport Series. Among the Formula Renault Eurocup drivers, Lorenzo Colombo (Bhaitech Racing) scored two second-place finishes to win two sets of Hankook tyres while László Tóth (Bhaitech Racing) and William Alatalo (JD Motorsport) claimed their maiden podium results.
Following the first round at Interlagos, the Formula Renault Esport Series competitors made their way to Montreal to fight it out on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, one month before they will battle in their Formula Renault FR-19s at Monza (July 6-11).
Race 1: maiden victory for Bölükbaşı and M2 Competition
After setting the pace in free practice, Cem Bölükbaşı kept the momentum going in qualifying to take the pole with a best time of 1:24.019s ahead of William Alatalo, Bent Viscaal (MP Motorsport), Grégoire Saucy (ART Grand Prix) and Lorenzo Colombo.
The poleman held on to the lead at the start while the field was rattled by several contacts at turn one, beginning with the incident involving William Alatalo. Lorenzo Colombo made the most of the situation to slot in just behind the leader while Bent Viscaal moved back to third place. Eleventh on the grid, László Tóth shot up to fourth place before coming under threat from Grégoire Saucy and Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport).
As the laps ticked off, Cem Bölükbaşı steadily pulled away from the field and was helped by the drive-through penalties handed down to Lorenzo Colombo and Bent Viscaal for their involvement in the incidents at the start of the race.
After getting past Grégoire Saucy and László Tóth, Richard Verschoor moved up to second place before falling victim to the pace of Lorenzo Colombo. Bothered by the return to the track of Tommy Smith (JD Motorsport), who was a lap down, the Dutchman made contact with the Armco barrier and saw his hopes of a top-three finish vanish.
Cem Bölükbaşı went on for a comfortable win, handing M2 Competition its first success in Formula Renault. Lorenzo Colombo and László Tóth brought Bhaitech Racing a double podium result in holding off Bent Viscaal just until the chequers were waved. Grégoire Saucy came home fifth, ahead of Oliver Goethe (FA Racing), William Alatalo, Xavier Lloveras (Global Racing Service) and Callan O’Keeffe (M2 Competition). Formula Renault Asia and Asian Formula 3 champion, Joey Alders (JD Motorsport) completed the top ten.
Race 2: Bölükbaşı doubles up
In the second qualifying session, Cem Bölükbaşı was once again the man to beat with a fastest lap of 1:23.911s to take his third consecutive pole position ahead of Lorenzo Colombo, Grégoire Saucy and Ugo de Wilde (Arden Motorsport).
Starting fifth on the grid, William Alatalo got the best jump off the line to lead the pack into turn one, but Cem Bölükbaşı retook command of the race at the end of the opening lap and Lorenzo Colombo made the most of an error committed by the Finn to move up to second position.
While the gap between Cem Bölükbaşı and Lorenzo Colombo remained under one second, the fight for fourth place was hot and heavy between Ugo de Wilde and Grégoire Saucy. They made contact at the hairpin, but the Swiss driver ceded the position to his Belgian rival before a spin and contact with László Tóth dropped him down the running order.
Meanwhile, Cem Bölükbaşı was able to pull away from Lorenzo Colombo to go on for a five-second margin of victory. William Alatalo claimed his first podium result in the Formula Renault Esport Series ahead of Ugo de Wilde and Tijmen van der Helm (FA Racing). Despite a spin, Oliver Goethe picked up another sixth-place result ahead of Joey Alders and Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix). László Tóth and Grégoire Saucy picked up the final points on offer.
In the general classification, Lorenzo Colombo capitalized on his consistency to move to the top of the order with a nine-point lead from Cem Bölükbaşı. Victor Martins is third, 16 points adrift of the leader. The action will continue at two motor racing monuments: the Circuit of the Americas in Austin (June 19) and Suzuka (June 26).
Cem Bölükbaşı (M2 Competition): "Despite good pace at the first meeting, I was quite unlucky so these two wins in Montreal are great. This is exactly what I needed to remain motivated till the end of the season. This old-school circuit is very tricky with the walls being so close to the track, which leaves no room for mistake, but our preparation in harmony with the team paid off. I was able to quickly build up a lead in race one. The track was a bit faster for race two and this allowed me to do a better job of managing tyre wear and to keep Lorenzo at bay. I am now looking forward to Austin and Suzuka and aim for the same results with M2 Competition!"
Lorenzo Colombo (Bhaitech Racing): "I am very pleased with my results in Montreal. Cem Bölükbaşı was in a league of his own. My target was to follow him as long as possible in hoping he would make a mistake. It never happened and I am happy to have not made contact with the walls, because it is easy to get it wrong at Montreal. To make it short, I had to survive and I could hardly do better! However, I’m delighted to take the lead in the general classification and I hope to be more confident at the next races on traditional circuits in Austin and Suzuka... And I’m confident that I’ll be just as good with Bhaitech Racing during the real season!"
|1. Lorenzo Colombo (Bhaitech Racing)||63|
|2. Cem Bölükbaşı (M2 Competition)||54|
|3. Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix)||47|
|4. Fabrizio Donoso (Renault Vitality)||43|
|5. Grégoire Saucy (ART Grand Prix)||36|