TROPHÉE ANDROS – VAL THORENS, FRANCE (Race 2)
After earning Dacia's maiden win in the Trophée Andros at Val Thorens in 2009, Alain Prost finished on top once again at the same venue to give the make its first victory of the 2010/2011 campaign and also take an early lead in the championship's provisional standings. The four-time F1 world champion and two-time Trophée Andros winner champ was in outstanding form from the qualifying heats to Sunday's finale at the wheel of his Dacia Duster Glace.
Given the potential revealed by the car during the first day of competitive action at Val Thorens which saw Alain Prost claim third place, the team clearly had hopes of kicking off the new season with a win. The morning's warm-up session gave the Frenchman a chance to fine-tune the settings of his Dacia Duster Glace and, more especially, its suspension set-up.
The car went on to dominate the first qualifying heat as Prost, who was the last driver out, made the most of its potential to post a string of quick laps with clockwork-like consistency (46.810s, 46.610s, 46.681s and 47.071s). That put the Dacia Duster at the top of the time-sheets with an aggregate time of 3m 7.172s.
"I didn't feel completely relaxed," admitted Alain Prost. "The handling of my Dacia Duster was perfect, though, thanks to the adjustments we made. I can now go into the second qualifying heat in a totally different frame of mind compared with yesterday evening when I couldn't afford to make a mistake."
The second qualifying heat passed off just as well, with Alain Prost producing another quick run as he modified his cornering lines as a function of the evolving track conditions. The four-time world champion was second overall in the second heat, a result which particularly pleased him inasmuch as nobody managed to repeat their times of the morning. "I was first in the first heat, second in the second and I've got the best total time for the two, so that's a positive. I made a point of looking after my tyres in the second heat to ensure they stay competitive for the final…"
Although 80 percent of the points up for grabs had already been awarded, the finale was still to come. Prost started from pole and successfully defended his position for eight laps to take an assertive win, the first of the 2010/2011 series for Dacia and the 31st Trophée Andros success of the French driver's career.
"It was important to win one of the weekend's two races," observed Prost. "Like last year, victory came in the second one. The level of competition in this winter's Trophée Andros is amazing. I have never known it to be so competitive. Given the weight handicap system and the extremely small gaps, it won't be easy to take both wins over a single weekend. The Dacia Duster handles really nicely and I think we will be competitive at every round, even when the conditions are as bad as they were here at Val Thorens. In points terms, it's been a good weekend. To win this year's Trophée Andros, we will above all need to be consistent because there are maybe 10 drivers capable of winning and some of them will perhaps try to target certain races in particular. So we can't afford to make any mistakes. It will be important to adapt our strategy as a function of our results and, hopefully, we will benefit from a little good luck from time to time, too."
Team Dacia will now head for the Principality of Andorra for next weekend's encounter at Pas de la Case, the second of the season.
Val Thorens, Race 2 – final positions: 1, Alain Prost (Dacia Duster). 2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Series 1 BMW). 3, Evens Stievenard (Toyota Auris). 4, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio III). 5, Olivier Pernaut (Series 1 BMW). 6, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia). 7, Romain Grosjean (Renault Clio III). 8, Bertrand Balas (Toyota Auris). 9, Andrea Dubourg (Renault Clio III). 10, Hervé Knapick (Series 1 BMW). Etc.
2010/2011 Trophée Andros – provisional positions: 1, Prost (154 points). 2, Dayraut (150 points). 3, Balas (146 points). 4, Stievenard (144 points). 5, Dubourg (142 points). 6, Panis (136 points). 7, Grosjean (135 points). 8, Pernaut (134 points). 9, Knapick (128 points). 10, Villeneuve (119 points). Etc