Smidl takes dominant win in eventful race at Paul Ricard

Michal Smidl cruised to his third win of the season at Paul Ricard, winning by almost 20 seconds as Marin Stefanko crossed the line second and Petr Zoubek taking a hard earned third place.

The Big Shock driver took pole by 0.2 seconds from Stefanko in second. In the long run down to turn one Vojtech Polesny had a great start to take second but the most exciting aspect of the start was BenQ’s Karel Basko speeding into the wall.

The BenQ driver had technical issues throughout the race and on lap five he came into the pits and retired from the race.

Ironically the most exciting fight in the opening period was at the back of the grid. Andrej Chlebec returned to the TP-Link cockpit after Daniel Liscak’s impressive stint in the last two races. He was fighting with Jan Sykora and Tomas Dolezel. Sykora and Chlebec collided and both spun out, meaning they lost ground on Dolezel.

Meanwhile back at the top Stefanko overtook Polesny for second, and this is where he remained for the rest of the race, rarely threatened from here on in. He was helped by Zoubek in the Avast car starting the challenge Polesny for third. By lap eight they were wheel to wheel, almost making contact.

Zoubek won the fight for third as Polesny pitted but lost a lot of time in the pits, having a longer stop than usual due to a small software glitch. He recovered well to finish fifth but the result could have been so much better for the Acer driver.

The end of lap 13 was where many drivers decided to take their pit stop. Sykora and Chlad both pit at the same time and were side by side heading towards the pit exit.

Neither decided to yield and Chlad crossed the white pit exit line on the way out.

However this wasn’t the end of the saga, as Chlad was chasing Sykora and spun out after tapping the T-Mobile driver’s car.

Jaroslav Honzik had had a quiet race up until lap 16, settled in fourth he was catching up to Zoubek for third and spent the final ten laps battling him. It came to nothing as Zoubek held firm and Honzik had to settle for fourth.

In the final two laps Chlad and Sykora resumed their race long battle. Sykora had spun and lost a lot of time which allowed Chlad to catch up. However the Effective Racing driver Chlad spun again trying to pass Sykora and lost eighth place to Dolezel, having to settle for ninth.

Smidl strolled to victory and extended his championship lead, Stefanko took second with Zoubek taking third after a titanic battle with Honzik throughout. Polesny recovered for fifth but could have been higher, with Chlebec taking sixth.

Sykora finally took seventh after an eventful race, Dolezel eighth and Chlad having to take ninth. Jan Frajbis had a very quiet race and came home tenth, with Basko the only non-finish.

Aaron Irwin

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