A well-deserved rookie race win for Kush Maini at Yas Marina Circuit rounded out a successful maiden season in the Formula Renault Euroup for M2 Competition last weekend.
The Indian’s class victory, which came in sixth place overall at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix venue, was a fitting way to complete a season in which he has been an overall podium finisher and scored points in 13 of the 20 races.
The weekend had begun strongly for Kush, 19, who was the fastest rookie in free practice in fourth place overall, and who carried that form into opening qualifying in which he secured rookie pole position – his fourth of the season – put him in a strong position for the race.
Running consistently inside the front few places for the duration, and involved in a hard battle for position throughout, he finished sixth and secured his third rookie win of the year to add to those achieved at Monza and Spa-Francorchamps.
A mistake on his final qualifying lap on Saturday prevented a second-row start and put him eighth on the grid for the season finale, which ended at one-third distance due to contact with a rival that bent his right-front toe-link and sent him into the pits.
Despite the non-finish, Kush ended the 2019 season as the second-highest-placed rookie in the standings and sixth overall in the Drivers’ points.
His result also helped Brussels-based M2 to leapfrog their nearest rivals in the Teams’ Championship to sit fifth overall and best of the newcomer teams.
Team-mate Lucas Alecco Roy began his weekend eager to make progress from his previous outing in the Eurocup, at which he claimed a career-best ninth place at the Hungaroring with M2.
The Monaco-based German, who has raced in German Formula 4 several times since the Hungarian event, was tasked with adapting his driving style from the slower machine back to the demands of Renault FR-19 car, which proved a challenge.
Eighteenth in both free practice sessions, Lucas qualified there for both races as well. He made a terrific start to Friday’s opener, latching on to a hard-fought battle for 11th spot during the early stages.
While he lost a couple of positions towards the finish, 16th spot still represented an improvement on his grid position. He added 17th on Saturday and ended the season 20th in the points, having contested five of the 10 rounds.
With the 2019 campaign over, M2 now begin preparations for 2020 with two days of official post-season testing in Abu Dhabi.
Their three drivers for this are Monegasque Arthur Leclerc, who finished third in German F4 this year, FIA KZ2 World Karting Champion Emilien Denner, and China’s Stephen Hong; fifth in Formula Renault Asia.
Lucas Alecco Roy said: “It’s been a great bit of fun to drive around this track. Getting back in the car was a bit more difficult. My last F4 weekend went really well at Monza, but the way you drive the Formula Renault car is quite different, so it took a bit of time to get reacclimatised and change my driving technique so it was optimised for this car. That side of things improved a lot over the weekend, which I was happy with and I think this will prepare me well for whatever I do next year as well.”
Elise Moury, Team Manager, said: “It’s been quite a mixed weekend, but of course we’re delighted that Kush was able to take the Rookie win in Race One for the third time this year. He didn’t have the best Saturday with a mistake on his last qualifying lap that left him further back than we expected, and then some contact in the race that broke the toe arm, but he’s finished top-six in the points and second-best rookie, which is a good achievement. Lucas took some time to adapt his driving back to a Formula Renault, but his Saturday race pace was a big improvement on the day before. We’ve managed to move back into fifth in the Teams’ Championship this weekend, which means we’ve finished as the top newcomers in this series. That was always one of our aims, so we’re happy to have achieved this.”