Max Defourny took his maiden NEC victory on home soil by a country mile, leaving his rivals in to fight it out between themselves. Kevin Jörg held on for his fifth consecutive podium, keeping ahead of Callan O’Keeffe, who equals his best finish of the season so far.
After bagging his first pole in the series Defourny made a lightning start to stay well clear of the rest of the field. Other fast starters included Jörg from P3, who engaged in a lap-long battle with O’Keeffe, and Charlie Eastwood, who’d been put to the back of the grid after an earlier infringement. The first corner was blissfully incident free, as was the remainder of the lap. The only retirement was Ferdinand Habsburg, who brought his Fortec into the pits at the end of the first lap.
Battles broke out all down the field, but none involving Max Defourny, who put himself nearly two seconds clear after one lap. Jörg and O’Keeffe swapped places around the circuit, and as hard as he tried the South African was unable to maintain his position ahead of the Swiss driver. Delétraz and Sasahara fought closely, and the championship leader took an opportune lunge down the inside of Les Combes to pass his ART rival.
Just out of the top 10, Chaves ran over the Bus Stop chicane in his attempts to get into the points, allowing Ticktum past in his first NEC race. Gill and fellow Brit Noble also took the opportunity to pass Chaves, and Charlie Eastwood joined the fray to sit 14th. A mistake from Gill dropped him down behind Noble and Eastwood – the latter of whom having overtaken half of the field – and put them both in the battle for 11th with Ticktum.
Further back, Prizma’s Fredricsson, who had dropped to 20th after an early off, diced closely with teammate Kleveros and Koiranen’s Philip Hamprecht. A move at La Source moved Fredricsson past his teammate, but Kleveros was able to take the place back again soon after.
As a result of his earlier travels off track, Chaves was under investigation from the stewards, and post-race has been given a 30 second time penalty. The Noble-Eastwood duo put pressure on Ticktum, and a very close pass by the MGR driver led to the Koiranen rookie running wide, thus Eastwood made up yet another place. Soon after, Eastwood and Noble’s battle reached its climax, with Eastwood passing Noble and holding fort for the remainder of the race.
Back at the front, Defourny’s lead had stretched to a massive 4 seconds over Jörg, whose pace had melted away over the final laps. O’Keeffe found himself sandwiched between the two Swiss JKR members, in a scrap that only finished when all 3 drivers had crossed the line, just over a second separating the three of them, who were almost 4 and a half seconds behind Defourny.
There was more excitement in the midfield over the line, with Gill, Baptista, Ticktum and Chaves crossing in a gaggle that was difficult to tell who finished where, the determination to be the best out of the pack clear in all of them.
But today has been Defourny’s day, with the young Belgian claiming both his first pole and win at home in Spa in front of the Belgian crowds. His success moves him up to 5th in the championship, ahead of Alex Gill and Jehan Daruvla.