The single-seaters of the Federal training centre hadn’t come to Albi for over 10 years and it’s finally today, in the beginning of the afternoon, that the academicians set themselves on the starting grid under a scorching sun for their first race. This weekend’s double pole-man, Matthieu Vaxivière, shoots off perfectly well and is able maintain his head position in front of Andréa Pizzitola who is following him very closely. Even if a race cannot be won in the first lap, all drivers have at heart to position themselves as best as possible. This is how Victor Colomé sets himself in 3rd position to the detriment of Pierre Gasly and the Spaniard speeds up in order to rejoin the head of the race. A little farther, Pierre Sancinéna takes the advantage on Aurélien Panis to position himself in 6th position behind Tristan Papavoine.
However, Alexandre Mantovani and Francisco-Javier Suarez disappear from the Top Ten; Alexandre finds himself at the back end of the group and as far as the second is concerned, he has to deal with a broken triangle. In the following lap, Andréa Pizzitola takes advantage of the leader Vaxivière’s mistake to grab the leadership of the race. Tristan Papavoine does the same by taking advantage on Pierre Gasly and puts his foot down to catch up on Victor Colomé. Behind them, we can witness a raging fight between both Pierre Gasly and Pierre Sancinéna. Not far from them, another wrestle is taking place between the Finn Patrick Kujala and Aurélien Panis who are both searching for 7th place in front of Cyril Raymond and the Andorran Alex Loan Ventura.
Mid-race has come and in spite of a few very spectacular manoeuvres, positions are hardly to change. At least, this is the case of the Top Ten as Marie Baus-Coppens, only girl of the group, has to give up the race a little soon after having ended up in the gravel pit. Paul Petit had to give in face to Jordan Perroy then Alexandre Mantovani, who is now in 13th position. In front of them, even if the positions haven’t changed, Tristan Papavoine comes back hard onto Victor Colomé. He sets himself in attacking position, overtakes him but the Spaniard soon gets his belongings back. Both young men race side by side, sometimes touching each other, avoid track exit and, three laps away from the finishing line, the trio Gasly, Sancinéna and Kujala, link up on the group. Results may change...
Tristan Papavoine multiplies his intimidation attempts. In the following lap, he is finally able to find the weakness point. The Spaniard has no intention in abdicating and tries to regain his position. But he fails and touches his opponent. Pierre Gasly seizes this opportunity to glide into the last available place on the podium. Tristan Papavoine finally crosses the finishing line in 4th position in front of Pierre Sancinéna, Patrick Kujala and Aurélien Panis. Victor Colomé has to put up with the points of 8th position in front of Cyril Raymond and Alex Loan Ventura.
Andréa Pizzitola: « I was hoping to overtake Matthieu at start-off but his departure was perfect. One moment of inattention on his behalf and I was able to gain the head of the race. Then I built a big enough gap to keep me safe from a possible attack. But, for this race, I think the most important was regularity more than attack and this is what I tried to do. »
Matthieu Vaxivière: « I had a few brake problems in the first laps of the race but it’s due to some of my stupid mistakes that Andréa was able to overtake in the 2nd lap in the first chicane. I tried to keep up but he was too fast and I chose to preserve my tires for tomorrow. As far as the set-up is concerned, I didn’t change anything. »
Pierre Gasly: « I made an attempt in the set-ups and I must admit, that at the beginning, things didn’t work out as well as I expected. I was unable to follow the pace. We had a nice tight fight with Pierre but he made a mistake and I was able to come back on the first four of the group. Two laps away from the chequered flag, I seized the opportunity and slipped into 3rd place! It would have been quite a deception if I had finished 5th after having left 3rd – but in the end, things came out not bad at all! And for the championship, I couldn’t have wished better! »
F4 magazine - GT Tour (Round 1) : Le Mans