The young Moroccan driver Michael Benyahia has just started his European programme in Formula Renault 2.0 during the first event of the Northern European Cup in Italy on the F1 circuit of Monza. Victim of a mechanical problem in Race 1, he admirably redressed the balance by reaching the podium of Race 2 among the top specialists of the category.
The end of last season had allowed him to show his excellent level of competitiveness by finishing in 3rd place of the French F4 Championship. Michael meticulously prepared his path to the upper echelon of Formula Renault 2.0 during the winter with his coach Stéphane Daoudi. After much testing, he began by taking the start of the VdeV Championship. Twice winner at the Portimao event in Portugal, he had a winning streak of three victories following his success in Barcelona in F4 in November 2016.
R-ace GP is one of the top teams in the discipline, and at Monza Michael was able to confront many experienced drivers racing with renowned teams since last season in FR 2.0. In free practice it was difficult to find the right set-up for the car and qualifying practice did not improve with somewhat disappointing 9th and 12th times. The R-ace GP technicians were working hard to solve the technical problem and found the solution before Race 1. After a very good start, Michael made a good recovery from his 12th place on the grid. He was in 8th place after a few laps and posted excellent times by lighting several sectors in purple, which marked his best sector times. He unfortunately had to retire because of a clutch failure which prevented him from taking the finish.
Michael was able to take his revenge in Race 2, his best single-seater performance to date. From 9th, he quickly found himself 5th while the Safety Car interrupted the race twice. Well prepared for this eventuality, Michael took advantage of the restarts to gain more ground while resisting the attacks of his rivals. He joined his teammate Gilles Magnus and took a secure 3rd place. He then had the opportunity to confirm his speed and narrow the gap with the first two, drivers significantly more experienced than him.
« Apart from the mechanical problem that forced me to give up in Race 1, I am very happy with my debut in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, » said the Moroccan driver after the finish. « I did not expect to be as competitive from the first competition of the season in this very high level European championship. I am very proud to have taken the colours of Morocco on to the podium at Monza. I thank the R-ace GP team for the excellent work done this weekend as well as the MDJS for their support this season. »
Fast, tactical and reliable, Michael Benyahia started his European season in Formula Renault 2.0 under the best auspices. He is already looking forward to meeting his opponents in Holland, on the circuit of Assen, at the beginning of August.