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Hubert wins first Academy races for France
25 July 2010
Frenchman Anthoine Hubert made history by becoming the first driver to win a round of the CIK-FIA Academy Trophy thanks to a double victory at Wackersdorf in Germany.
On what was a very important weekend for the CIK-FIA on many levels with the joint debut of the Academy trophy and the Under 18 World Championships, 32 drivers from 32 countries all on identical FIM powered Parolin chassis gathered for the first two rounds of the six round, three venue, Academy trophy.
What started as a very wet weekend at the 1222-metre circuit nestled in the South East corner of Germany turned into a dry and highly successful one for Hubert, who was never out of the top five throughout timed qualifying and the three heats and then led the majority of the two 17-lap finals that count towards the championship.
On paper it might look as though Hubert, running under the Olivier Bruneau banner, was the dominant force all weekend thanks to two heat wins and then the two final victories but while there was no doubting Hubert's pace, he was by no means the runaway winner.
Estonian driver Hans Villemi, driving for the Finnish based JTL Racing operation, led the way in the sodden timed qualifying session by a massive three tenths of a second from Monaco's Charles Leclerc and Britain's Roy Johnson with Hubert fourth and Brazilian Felipe Fraga fifth.
However in the drier heat races Villemi wasn't quite as strong, finishing fourth in the opening nine-lap encounter behind Leclerc, Norwegian driver Oystein Helgheim and Hubert.
Leclerc then cost himself the win in heat two, jumping the start and earning himself a ten second penalty. The penalty dropped him from first, more than a full second ahead of Hubert, to ninth.
Hubert then added a second win to his collection in the final heat on Sunday morning just beating Villemi and Johnson while Leclerc jumped the start again to earn himself a three second penalty on this occasion, enough to drop him from a close fourth on the road to a distant 17th.
Two wins was more than enough to put Hubert on pole for the first final with points on offer to the top fifteen finishers. Villemi would start alongside him with Johnson and Finland's Niklas Tiihonen on row two and Leclerc a frustrated seventh.
Despite his lowly grid slot Leclerc was in a fighting mood in the race itself and briefly grabbed the lead during a frantic mid-race exchange with early leader Hubert and a tenacious Villemi. But Hubert was able to re-establish himself in top spot on lap eleven and held off the Estonian driver by a mere one tenth of a second at the finish with Leclerc less than half a second down in third.
Johnson, Tiihonen and Luxembourg's Olivier Thill completed the top six with Macau's Chang Wing Chung the best placed non European in 16th.
With his final one victory giving him pole position for race two Hubert led the opening exchanges from Villemi and Leclerc with Tiihonen in fourth. As in race one Villemi managed to oust Hubert for first place but unlike race one the Estonian was able to keep his advantage for more than a few metres.
But Hubert was not to be denied the double and the Frenchman grabbed the lead back with just under four laps to go. Tiihonen was now third but the final laps boiled down to a head to head scrap between Hubert and Villemi with Hubert completing the double win by an almost identical margin to that which he won the first final.
Tiihonen remained in contention until the end and took third with Johnson a distant fourth and Dutchman Max Koebolt fifth. Leclerc suffered an alarming slide down the order in the closing stages and was only 14th.
Two wins meant Hubert claimed a maximum point haul to lead the series with 50 markers, ten ahead of Villemi and 23 ahead of Tiihonen. Johnson's pair of fourth place finishes leaves him fourth overall, one point behind Tiihonen with Koebolt next up and Leclerc sixth, already more than 30 points adrift.