A cocktail of performance, strategy and soundrace management were once again the keys to success at the winter’s third Trophée Andros clash. Team Dacia was involved in the fight for first place allweekend, and taking the right decisions at the right time led to its secondvictory of the year, in Race 2. Alain Prost is the first driver to have notchedup two wins this year and now leads the points table ahead of the Christmasbreak. Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost were also in top form and jostling withthe leaders. There is still everything to play for, but Dacia Lodgy Glace hasalready emerged as the revelation of the 2011/2012 championship.
There has been little in common between the Trophée Andros clashes that have taken place so far this winter. A week after Dacia Lodgy Glace’s maiden victory in Andorra, Team Dacia was in L’Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps this weekend. On arrival at the resort, the country was in the grip of a storm and a particularly fierce gale in the mountains wiped out the team’s technical facilities, forcing the two Dacia Lodgy Glaces to take refuge in a trackside building.
The first free practice sessions enabled Alain Prost, Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost to note a lack of ice on the track, despite recent heavy snow. They consequently focused on finding a set-up suited to the conditions and it was clear that careful tyre management would be as critical here as it was in Andorra.
Indeed, Evens Stievenart chose to sit out the first four-lap qualifying session, while Nicolas Prost posted the 10th best time. Alain Prost was the last driver to go out, his car laden with 60kg of ballast.
The four-time F1 World Champion delivered a consistent run which nearly bagged the fastest lap. He ended up in third place, a mere tenth of a second short of the best effort.
The three Team Dacia drivers reported that their tyres were suffering on the exposed patches of asphalt which alternated with fresh snow. As a result, Alain and Nicolas kept their tyres for the second race, but Evens decided to go for a quick time. Alain Prost completed Q2 in fifth place, with Evens Stievenart ninth and Nicolas Prost 15th. The first race saw them consolidate their respective positions. The result meant that Alain Prost did not need to carry ballast for the second clash, and the championship order became even closer, with the provisional top three – Olivier Panis, Jean-Philippe Dayraut and Alain Prost – covered by just three points.
Despite further snow overnight, Saturday’s track conditions were far from ideal as more and more bare asphalt appeared. The Dacia Lodgy Glace drivers completed Race 2’s Q1 in close formation, with Alain Prost, Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost in third, fourth and 10th spots, despite holding onto their best tyres for the weekend’s last qualifying run.
The strategy paid dividends, since Nicolas Prost appeared at the top of the timesheets, just ahead of Evans Stievenart. The last word, however, went to Alain Prost who made the most of his car’s potential to produce four perfect laps and take command. All three Dacia drivers ended up in the top six, led by Alain (1st), ahead of Evens (5th) and Nicolas (6th).
The combination of their strategy and skill put the Team Dacia trio in an ideal position for the ultimate finales. Nicolas came third in his contest to seal sixth place, his best Trophée Andros result to date. The battle in the showcase finale was particularly fierce, but Alain Prost went on to win Race 2, with Evens Stievenart pocketing the points that went with fifth place.
Alain Prost is now the only driver to have scored two victories this year and that has taken him to the top of the provisional Trophée Andros standings ahead of the Christmas break. The breath-taking action resumes on January 6-7, 2012, at Isola 2000.
Alain Prost: “Six tyres aren’t very many. My 60kg of ballast and the bare asphalt made tyre management crucial on Friday. To have finished fourth and first is very positive. It is important to score strong results consistently and to be leading the championship tonight. We are consistent, but we will also need to get our strategy right each time and not necessarily always target victory in every race. It’s going to be close, but we have been helped by the performance of the Dacia Lodgy Glace, as well as by having three drivers for our two cars. Our wins here and in Andorra were obtained thanks to Nicolas and Evens. And a big bravo, too, to Team Dacia for doing such a great job this weekend despite the circumstances in which they had to work following what happened to our facilities in the wind. We hope to organise a test session before Isola 2000. The championship is proving incredibly close and I don’t expect there to be big gaps at the end of the series.”
Evens Stievenart: “The weekend was far more positive than it was in Andorra. Friday was a little frustrating. I took some risks, but they didn’t pay off because I ended up ninth. Today went much better. The finale was quite hectic. I passed Alain after he was nudged by Franck Lagorce, but then I lifted to let him through again. It was the obviously the right thing to do because every point is likely to be valuable at the end.”
Nicolas Prost: “I made more progress this weekend. My pace on Saturday allowed me to target first place. My aim is a top-10 finish in every race to help the team by taking points away from our rivals. I tend to be faster on the second day, which is a sign that I am gaining experience. The conditions haven’t been easy so far, but that has allowed me to familiarise myself with competing on asphalt, and that could be important towards the end of the season, when the calendar takes us to resorts at lower altitudes.”
Alpe d’Huez, Race 1 – final positions: 1, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio III). 2, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia). 3, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman). 4, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman). 5, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 6, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia). 7, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta RS). 8, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia). 9, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 10, Didier Thoral (Toyota Auris)… 15, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). Etc.Alpe d’Huez, Race 2 – final positions: 1, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman). 3, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia). 4, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia). 5, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 6, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 7, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman). 8, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio III). 9, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia). 10, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta RS). Etc.
2011/2012 Trophée Andros – provisional standings: 1, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 444 points. 2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman), 443. 3, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia), 431. 4, Benjamin Rivière (Skoda Fabia), 424. 5, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia), 422. 6, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio III), 421. 7, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 410. 8, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio III), 386. 9, Olivier Pernaut (Ford Fiesta RS), 383. 10, Nicolas Bernardi (Ford Fiesta RS), 361… 15, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace), 332. Etc.