For this final day of testing, the competitors were treated to ideal conditions to finalize their preparation ahead of the launching of the Renault Sport Trophy in two weeks at Spa-Francorchamps.
Ghirelli under one-minute, twenty nine
Right from the start of the session, Dario Capitanio, Steijn Schothorst, Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing) and Vittorio Ghirelli battled for the fastest time. Steijn Schothorst took over in lowering yesterday’s reference time, but Vittorio Ghirelli answered. The Italian topped the time sheet with a lap of 1:28.847 to lead from the quartet of Dutchmen composed of Indy Dontje, Steijn Schothorst, Bas Schothorst (Zele Racing) and Nicky Pastorelli. Sixth overall, Dario Capitanio was quickest in the ‘‘Prestige’’ class, ahead of Richard Gonda and Philip Forsman.
Final best time for Pizzitola
Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) dominated the early portion of the session, before Federico Leo (V8 Racing) then Indy Dontje went to the top of the order. Andrea Pizzitola followed his team mate, but Vittorio Ghirelli replied. The Frenchman returned to the track to retake the top spot, which he held onto to the end of the session, thanks to his lap of 1:30.645, ahead of Vittorio Ghirelli and Indy Dontje. Sharing his car with Andrea Pizzitola, Richard Gonda was fourth overall and first in ‘‘Prestige’’ ahead of Dario Capitanio and Max Braams (V8 Racing).
Andrea Pizzitola : “We had to run as much as possible to gather information before Spa. I have a good feeling with the car. It is very nice to drive. The most impressive points of the Renault Sport Trophy are its speed in the corners, its aerodynamic downforce, its stopping power and the very efficient ABS and excellent development. The races are psychologically draining and you have to be completely focused to put in consistent times. The objective is clearly the title, I have the team to do it with and I feel I can do it although there are some very strong competitors we’ll have to beat !”
Luciano Bacheta : “The Renault Sport R.S. 01 is different from what I have raced before : Formula Renault 2.0, F2 and LMP2. It is a new step and I am adapting to a new driving style, while also preparing for Spa in the best possible way. It is a big car, but it handles like it is a lot smaller. I am still amazed to see at what extent we can brake late. The cornering speeds are stunning and despite the weight transfer, we have a tremendous amount of grip. It was very hot during these tests. I was sweating, which I never do ! Yesterday, with 60°C in the closed cockpit, it was like being in a sauna ! The goal this year will be to win, but the team and I will be up against a very strong field, which is always the case in the World Series by Renault. I’ll have to learn very quickly and be as consistent as possible to win.”
Max Braams : “We had a good test at Valencia. It is a new car, very different from my Mégane Trophy from two years ago. For someone like me who has never driven an open-wheel car, the downforce is really impressive and this is my first experience with carbon-fiber brakes. It is just crazy how late we can brake. I love it ; it is exciting and challenging. I have a lot of work to do to further improve my times. The objective is to be a half-second off the pole before aiming for the podium at the end of the season. We’ll see how we do at Spa, a track I like.”
Philippe Bourgois : “These tests have confirmed the excellent impressions we had at Varano. Valencia is a technical circuit, quite difficult for gentleman drivers like me, but the car is awesome. It has a lot of promise and we are going to experience a fantastic season. The mechanical grip and aerodynamics are extraordinary and the brakes are truly magnificent. It is practically a small prototype, with sensations very similar to an LM P2. My dream, like many, is to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I began racing in endurance last year and to compete in a season of the Renault Sport Trophy will be good preparation for next year’s 24 Hours. Race battles with such an excellent field of drivers as those entered in a highly competitive championship offer a good prospects to reduce the gap with the young professionals.”