Alex stretches his lead at Paul Ricard

Alex Peroni has gone further ahead in the French Monoplace Challenge after round 3 at the Paul Ricard circuit.

It was another controversial round of the series for Alex, who won one of the round’s three races but was hit twice by team RC drivers.

In the first incident, during Saturday’s qualifying session, Alex was on a lap that would have put him on pole position when arch-rival Oscar Arcila collided with him as he returned to the track after running wide.

Alex’s car was damaged in the crash, preventing him from continuing in the 15-minute session, but luckily his first flying lap on the 5.8km circuit was quick enough for fifth place on the 31-car grid.

With his car hurriedly repaired for the first of the weekend’s three races later in the day, he charged to the front after three laps.

From there he wasn’t headed, and went on to post his fourth race win of the series by just under two seconds.

2016-05-21 Monoplace Challenge rd 3 (Paul Ricard) race 1 - Alex Peroni [Hugues LaRoche]RACE 1: Alex leads Droux through the chicane. [Hugues Laroche photo]

Then on Sunday in Race 2 he was punted off the track just after overtaking 2015 Monoplace Challenge champion David Droux for the lead.

Droux, who was making a cameo appearance in this year’s series, misjudged his braking.

His front-right tyre hit Alex’s left-rear, launching Alex into air (see photo, below).

Fortunately Alex’s car was undamaged, and he was able to rejoin the race midfield and charge back to fifth place by the finish.

2016-05-22 Mono Chall rd 3 (Paul Ricard) race 2 - Peroni, Droux [Frederic Lemaire]RACE 2: Alex’s car is launched into the air after contact by Droux [Frédéric Lemaire – www.photo-sport-automobile.fr].

Race 3 was a salvage exercise for Alex. His car’s tyres had suffered during his Race 2 recovery drive, so he drove conservatively to a third place finish.

Nevertheless he set the fastest lap in all three races. In Race 2 he  outclassed the opposition by  0.633 seconds – a massive margin in one-make racing – during his fightback drive!

More importantly he extended his series lead to 47.5 points over second-placed Gilles Heriau.

Afterwards Alex summed up another tough but ultimately successful round.

“In the qualifying session Oscar Arcila tagged my back wheel as he came back onto the track, ripping off the suspension,” he said.

“I have to thank my team, TS Corse, for repairing the car quickly so I could make the first race.

“I got a reasonable start and passed Gilles Magnus at the first corner.

“Gilles Heriau, who was running second after Gregoire Saucy spun out of the lead, defended strongly but I managed to pass him at Turn 10.

“David Droux also defended strongly, but I passed him on the outside of turn 11.

“My car got better as the race went on, and I was able to pull out a lead to the finish.

“The second and third races were difficult.

“In Race 2 Droux braked too late after I went past. He clipped my rear wheel, and I went into air and spun off the track.

“I was relieved that my car wasn’t damaged, but I had to fight hard to come back through the field.

“In race 3 I struggled with tyre wear, but Arcila was further back so there was no point taking big risks.

“Anyway I increased my lead in the championship, so I’m happy about that!”

The fourth round of the Monoplace Challenge takes place at Motorland Aragon in Spain on July 1-3.

ALEX PERONI’S RESULTS – Monoplace Challenge round 3, May 20-22, Paul Ricard (Le Castellet)

Qualifying: 5th
Race 1: 1st
Race 2: 5th
Race 3: 3rd
Championship position: 1st (365 points)

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