EU Megane: Le Mans preview
Lahaye on a roll? Having won three of the last four races, Matthieu Lahaye (Tech 1 Racing) is the man in form as we approach the end of the season. Not content to totally dominate the Junior standings, the Rennes-based driver is now also hot on ...
Lahaye on a roll?
Having won three of the last four races, Matthieu Lahaye (Tech 1 Racing) is the man in form as we approach the end of the season. Not content to totally dominate the Junior standings, the Rennes-based driver is now also hot on the heels of Jaap Van Lagen (Equipe Verschuur) in the race for the overall title. Can Matthieu bask himself in glory on home soil?
At just 21 years old, Matthieu Lahaye is already in his fifth season of racing. After taking part in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy with Tech 1 Racing last year, he decided to build on his experience in 2006. He clearly had plenty to call upon: since the Nürburgring meeting, the Breton has become the pace-setter in the category. Right under the nose of Van Lagen, Campaniço and Dayraut, to mention just a few!
With the exception of his catastrophic weekend in Istanbul, Matthieu has always been there or thereabouts. But in the last two meetings, he has turned up the heat: in addition to some skillfully obtained pole positions, he has put together a series of wins, on each occasion after some magnificent racing with his rivals.
For the time being, however, the Eurocup leader is still Jaap Van Lagen. The Dutchman has already achieved a unique feat: he is the only driver to have finished all ten races in the points, including five top-three finishes and two race wins. This unerring consistency has put the ever-smiling Jaap 17 points clear of Lahaye. The battle is far from over between the two men, but Van Lagen knows he can afford to finish behind his rival and content himself with high place points.
A few points adrift of the leading pair, two other drivers are still in the race for the title: César Campaniço (Racing for Belgium) and Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Epsilon-Euskadi). Despite each having recorded two wins, their lack of consistency looks set to count against them when it comes to the totting up the final points.
The top four is supported by Lahaye's in-form team-mate, Bruce Lorgeré-Roux. Despite only starting mid-way through the season, he has wasted no time in getting to grips with the Mégane Trophy. Thanks to his rapid progress, Tech 1 Racing also leads the Team standings.
After coming to Donington to try out the category with TDS, Franck Mailleux also from Rennes managed to finish on the podium. His success has clearly whetted his appetite, as he will be racing again in Le Mans! Two other drivers return to racing this weekend: last year's runner-up Renaud Derlot (TP Compétition/Moteur Huger) and Frédéric Gabillon (Team Lompech Sport).
But the list of challengers does not stop there. Pedro Petiz (Iris Racing), Luigi Ferrara (Oregon Team), James Kirkpatrick (Epsilon Euskadi), Bernhard Ten Brinke (Equipe Verschuur), Ralph Meichtry (Race Performance) and Steve Abold (Roma team Baumgärtner) all have a chance of featuring in the top places.
Junior drivers Sébastien Dhouailly (Team Lompech Sport) and Mathieu Cheruy (Energy Racing), who have been more subdued of late, will determined to put on a good show in front of their home fans. As for «gentlemen drivers» such as Pascal Ballay (Energy Racing), Jean-Charles Miginiac (Team Lompech Sport), Jean-Philippe Madonia (TDS) and Jean-Yves Mallat (TP Compétition/Moteur Huger), their main goal will be to enjoy themselves, but they will also be trying to get into the points!
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