van Kerckhoven snatches France sprint in five-way thriller

Kevin van Kerckhoven took a sensational victory in the AutoReject 2.0 sprint race at Magny-Cours, taking the lead on the final lap to clinch his first win in the series.

Starting eighth on the grid, van Kerckhoven made steady progress in the early stages, battling feature race winner Diego Pereira and Skye Summers for fifth place throughout the majority of the race. After clearing the pair, the Nismo Academy Voeckler driver was then able to march up to the leading pack of cars.

By the penultimate lap, the Belgian had caught up to Juliana Ivarsdottir, Ramon Lorenzo, Vaclav Malsyz and Pierre St. Laurent, clearing the Canadian before making an audacious move on Malsyz at the 180° corner.

The leading pack’s close proximity set up a thrilling five-way last-lap decider, and van Kerckhoven was able to get a sensational run on Ivarsdottir and Lorenzo on the exit of Estoril, taking a tow from both cars on the run down to the Adelaide hairpin.

Clearing Lorenzo at the hairpin, Ivarsdottir found herself off-line and fell to van Kerckhoven in the same move; the Belgian grabbed the lead and held onto it across the line, taking the Voeckler team’s first win since 2017.

Polesitter St. Laurent followed van Kerckhoven across the line in second, impressively sweeping past Ivarsdottir and Lorenzo after enduring a relatively tough race.

The Driver Performance Laboratory driver lost the lead to Lorenzo off the line and, although later reclaiming it shortly after, slowly dropped down the order before a late-race recovery helped him on his way to the podium.

Ivarsdottir claimed the last podium position ahead of Lorenzo, who just pipped Malsyz to the line after struggling with tyre wear in the latter stages.

Sixth-placed finisher Pereira was a further 1.3s down the road, while Skye Summers and Michela Martin were the winners of a colossal midfield battle to claim the final points-paying positions.

1Kevin van KerckhovenNismo Academy Voeckler21:17.246
2Pierre St. LaurentDriver Performance Laboratory+0.719
3Juliana IvarsdottirICE-3 Melkus Racing+2.539
4Ramon LorenzoLotto Racing+3.314
5Vaclav MalsyzQuicktech Engineering+3.546
6Diego PereiraDefinitely Maybe Racing+4.816
7Skye SummersPeak Aeroracing Engineering+6.048
8Michela MartinUnion Saver Developments+6.342
9Zenaide VoecklerDriver Performance Laboratory+6.754
10Helena LindstromQuicktech Engineering+8.404