TROPHEE ANDROS CHAMPIONSHIP GOES TO ALAIN PROST!
The thrilling last clash of the 2011/2012 Trophée Andros saw Dacia clinch its first title in motorsport thanks to Alain Prost, who was in stunning form, and team-mates Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost. By taking his personal score in the French competition to three crowns, Alain Prost enabled Dacia Lodgy Glace to become the first MPV to win a title in ice racing, just weeks ahead of the production version’s unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show.
With three drivers in contention for the 2011/2012 title, there was plenty of suspense ahead of the Trophée Andros’s visit to France’s Auvergne region for the final encounter of what has been a thrilling season. For Team Dacia, the tactics if Alain Prost was to clinch the crown were very simple: he had to win!
The organisers did everything in their power to produce icy racing conditions, but bare asphalt prevailed despite the ambient snow.
After a polished performance during free practice, Alain Prost, Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost went into the first qualifying session intent on claiming a psychological advantage over their rivals. Nicolas was first to go out and four perfect laps sent him straight to the top of the order. Evens followed soon afterwards and took over the provisional lead after his four consistent laps.
That sent out a clear message that the Dacia Lodgy Glace was competitive and none of the drivers who followed – with the exception of Jean-Philippe Dayraut, who was second-last to go out – succeeded in bettering the runs of Evens and Nicolas.
Alain Prost, who was equal first in the provisional championship standings before the trip to Super Besse, went out in the last group. He pulled out all the stops to post the quickest lap, almost eight-tenths of a second quicker than Dayraut. Evens ended up in third spot, with Nicolas following in fourth position. “It was a faultless team effort,” acknowledged Alain Prost. “It was vital that Benjamin Rivière didn’t win here, otherwise we were beaten. But Evens and Nico did a superb job by relegating him to fifth overall. When my team-mates do well, it’s always a sign that the Dacia is competitive, and that meant I could focus on my driving.”
The second qualifying session called for an identical result, so Alain Prost, Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost knew that another impeccable performance would be needed if they were to secure the championship. Once again, Nicolas and Evens accomplished their mission to the latter. Even so, there was significant pressure on Alain’s shoulders as he prepared to go out after Jean-Philippe Dayraut had established the benchmark time. “When I was told Jean-Philippe’s time, I knew that my only option was to give it everything I had!” The former F1 driver stepped up to the mark to produce four emphatic laps, however, including the fastest time of the session, more than a second faster than the next best effort. It put the N°2 Dacia Lodgy Glace at the top of the qualifying timesheet, with Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost following in third and fifth places respectively.
The finales eventually brought the exciting 2011/2012 championship to a close, but the show was slightly spoiled by some of the on-track antics. Alain Prost’s Dacia was punted by a rival car and that could have seen all the team’s efforts go to waste had it not been for the swift work of the mechanics who succeeded in repairing in a matter of minutes. Alain Prost went on to secure his third Trophée Andros title by claiming his finale and picking up his third win – and Dacia’s fourth – of this winter’s championship.
It took Dacia just three Trophée Andros campaigns to claim the supreme prize, an ideal result to kick start the career of the new Dacia Lodgy which is due to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Alain Prost: “I had no choice but to win today. I had a good feeling with my car and the team’s hard work enabled us to perform strongly in qualifying. We couldn’t afford to put a foot wrong this weekend but we coped with everything very well. The way the finales unfolded nearly ruined everything, but that merely mirrored the behaviour that some of our rivals have shown this season. Winning for Dacia was important and we pulled it off with an MPV, which was no easy challenge. I would like to thank everyone in the team, especially Evens and Nicolas. Had we not had a second car, we wouldn’t have won this winter’s Trophée Andros which proved extremely close right up the end.”
Evens Stievenart: “It’s been an emotional day. Once again, we all focused on the same objective and today, more than at any other time, it was important to provide Alain with perfect feedback. His title was made possible by the work of everybody in the team. Personally, I learnt a great deal this winter thanks to Alain and the rest of the squad. I’m even a little sad that it has come to a close because I felt more and more competitive. I end the series with some podium finishes under my belt, one race win and fifth place in the final standings. That’s all extremely positive and I will try to put this years’ experience to profit next winter.”
Nicolas Prost: “This winter has been a real learning curve for me, but it’s all been very positive. I played my part in my father’s title and I also came away with the ‘Trophée des Indépendants’, for the best rookie. I’ve learnt so much, and working with the team was an intense, successful and rewarding experience. We gave it everything we had in the finale to take the title. It’s a prize for the three of us and I hope I will get a chance to challenge for the crown myself sometime soon…”