Three 55-minute sessions were on the programme for the first outing of the Renault Sport Trophy at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Schothorst on pace straight away
The Renault Sport R.S. 01 of Andrés Mendez and Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4) set the opening best time but were soon outpaced by the High Class Racing #11 (Fjordbach-Andersen) and the Duqueine Engineering #16 (Panciatici-Duqueine) and #17 (Martins-Hamon).
Pieter Schothorst then went to the top of the order with a time of 2:04.208 to lead the way ahead of Duqueine Engineering #16 and Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9.
The Schothorst’s run the table
While Pieter Schothorst picked up the pace with a lap of 2:02.856 to finish quickest in session two ahead of the V8 Racing #7 (Pastorelli-Beelen) and Oregon Team #5 (Fumanelli-Due), his reference time was still under threat in the final session by the Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9.
The Dutch driver did it again in final ten minutes of the day with a best time overall of 2:02.017. The R-ace GP #2 completed the top three, followed by the R-ace GP #3 (Korjus) and Oregon Team #4 (Bonifacio-Mendez).
Pieter Schothorst : “There’s always room for improvement, even after such a day. We can do better, both with the car and my driving, especially as I am not completely satisfied with my performance in the last session. It could have been a lot better, but there is more to come tomorrow. My mind is very clear : I want to win the championship. To do that, I have to score maximum points at every meeting. Kevin and Markus are very close and very fast. I have to be on the top of my game to win the title.”
Renaud Kuppens : “I go back a long way with and have wonderful memories with Marc VDS. They called me to replace Markus and I immediately said yes, because the opportunity was so good. This weekend, the goal is to help Fabian as best I can in the endurance race. We had a good day, although I still have to adapt my driving philosophy, because I am still a little too aggressive in the corners with the Renault Sport R.S 01. The package is really homogeneous, fun to drive and you don’t notice the electronics as much compared to a GT3.”
Nelson Panciatici : “Today, I got my hands back on this fine car. The Renault Sport R.S 01 is really pleasant to drive. It has as much performance as a prototye or an open-wheel car in the fast corners. It is also very good under braking, because the ABS is efficient. Gilles and I don’t have a lot of experience and it is always hard to come into a championship in the middle of the season. I hope that it will go well tomorrow and, we also have to manage the very high temperatures in the race, although there is more air than I thought there would be in the car !”