FR Eurocup: Kush Maini claims Top 6 finish in Race 1 at Paul Ricard
The Indian nearly had a double Top 6 finishes but for bad luck in the second race.
Kush Maini started Round 4 in 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup finishing third in both the practice sessions on Friday in the #41 M2 Competition car at Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The Qualifying 1 for Race 1 on Saturday didn't convert well as he finished 10th overall.
An incident in the session damaged his front wing which limited his running but fought back well to 10th. It was a much better run on Sunday in Qualifying 2 for Race 2 as no complications saw him end up fifth overall.
The first race on Saturday saw Maini start well to be eighth already when a safety car period neutralised the running. After a brief run behind the safety car, the re-start saw Maini attack on his rivals ahead as he gained two more places in the process.
He first cleared JD Motorsport's Joao Vieira and then took his teammate Ugo de Wilde to be sixth as he then set on the chase of R-ace GP's Caio Collet. Despite getting close to Collet, Maini couldn't find enough pace to clear him for track position.
He eventually finished sixth overall and was the second best rookie. At the front though, it was MP Motorsport's Lorenzo Colombo with the win ahead of R-ace GP's Oscar Piastri and MP Motorsport's Victor Martins.
The second race on Sunday saw Maini lose one place off the line but he remained fifth still after Piastri lost out from the top half. The Indian had to defend quickly from the rivals behind but managed to create a gap in his pursuit of Collet.
It was looking good for Maini but a small ride on the kerb undone his race as his front wing detached midway which forced him to pit to change. This dropped him to the back of the field as he was classified 21st overall.
At the front, Colombo made it a double with R-ace GP's Aleksandr Smolyar in second from Martins. The non-finish in Race 2 did hurt Maini's points haul as he has 42 now after four rounds but the JK Tyre-backed driver gained a place to be eighth in the championship.
"We’ve had such good pace again this weekend that it’s so frustrating not to have two good points finishes to take away from Paul Ricard," he said. "I was third in both practice sessions and the fastest rookie, and that should have been converted into two top-five finishes.
"Qualifying didn’t go to plan on Saturday, but I was actually really pleased to recover from 10th to sixth in Race One and just miss the rookie win by eight tenths of a second, so we salvaged that one. Sunday qualifying was much better.
"I was an easy fifth in the race, but I slid wide on the dirt under braking for the chicane and broke the wing against a kerb, so that was that. I’d rather not have such a big gap before Spa, but I’m sure in the second half of the season we can make up a lot of points in the fight for the rookie title."
The Indian got his first outright podium in EuroNASCAR in Race 1.
It could still be a double Top 5 finish pending the outcome of the appeal.
The Indian driver's fate was pretty much sealed in qualifying.