At the conclusion of a rain soaked season finale, Andrea Pizzitola became the first driver to win the Renault Sport Trophy Elite title. The 23-year old from Montpellier scored his first major championship and hopes to win more. In November, he will try to earn a drive in Super GT with the official Nismo team and make the most of the opportunity to become a professional.
The atypical career of Andrea Pizzitola began in the Clio Cup after time spent in karting. At the end of his maiden season, the Frenchman switched to single-seaters via the Autosport Academy where he battled with the likes of Matthieu Vaxiviere and Pierre Gasly. Becoming more competitive over his three years in Formula Renault 2.0, he was among the contenders last year before he had his first test in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
“I had hoped to move up the ladder in the Renault driver development programme, but I missed a step!, confides Andrea Pizzitola. “The creation of the Renault Sport Trophy offered an ideal opportunity to progress. I have always had the support of Renault and the championships are very well organized. As a driver you feel good, accompanied and valued.”
In the ART Junior Team that he already had experience with in Formula Renault 2.0; the Montpellier native had a difficult pre-season, but maintained high ambitions.
“The title was always the objective. I felt good in the car and I never stopped believing in the team. Despite our problems, we wanted to be competitive right from the opening round at Spa. We took two podiums before finishing fifth in Budapest. Meanwhile, Steijn Schothorst had run the table. My engineer told me that if he won again, our hopes would be dashed. From then on, we always finished ahead of him and caught him at Le Mans although with the dropping of the worst result, he still had a slight advantage. We had no choice but to finish ahead of him at Jerez!”
Only fifth in qualifying, the Frenchman got a fantastic start before overtaking two competitors to take the lead on lap two. Winner of the Endurance intermediate classification, he closed to within one point of Steijn Schothorst before the final Sprint race of the season. A final race that would prove nerve-racking!
“All weekend, I watched the weather on my telephone », admits the Frenchman. “I opted for rain tyres while telling the team that I would stay with them even if Steijn went for slicks, which he did.”
“Despite a good start, another car hit me and I went into the gravel. I said to myself that it was over, but I was able to catch up to the field thanks to the intervention of the safety car. At the same time, Steijn lost time switching to rain tyres. We ran a strong race, but the driver ahead of me went straight off at the re-start. I hesitated, and got confused with the timing line and the official one. I was given a 25-second penalty, but I was 27-seconds ahead of Steijn at the finish! This was good enough to win the title, but I must admit it was hard to believe! Up until that day, I made the wrong tyre choices, but that wasn’t the case for the most important race of my career!”
Now that he has his first crown, Andrea Pizzitola can focus on the next stage: the driver selection for the official Nismo team with a drive in Super GT on offer. The Frenchman also had the chance to meet Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani, who made a special trip to Jerez to symbolically hand him his driver suit in the team’s colour scheme.
“I am extremely excited about the idea of participating in this shootout with Nismo. This price provided incredible motivation. I am a driver, and I want to live my passion. I think I made a good first impression and I hope it continues. The goal is simple: to once again be the best to prove what I can do.”
Shoichi Miyatani, Nismo President: “The competition level in the Renault Sport Trophy was very high. I was looking forward to seeing it at Jerez. The winner in the Elite category was promised a selection test in the Super GT – GT500, which has won three of the past four titles. It is the fastest GT in the world and we battle against Toyota and Honda. The battle is intense and it will be very interesting to see how much Andrea Pizzitola can shine.”
Jean-Pascal Dauce, Renault Sport Technologies Motorsport Director: “Andrea is a promising driver, who has always trusted Renault Sport Technologies. His battle with his former team mate, Steijn Schothorst, was terrific and this unforgettable finale was the result of the tenacity of both drivers! We launched the Renault Sport Trophy in order to create a new driver development programme to let young talents go on to race in professional championships. We wish Andrea the very best and we are sure he will demonstrate what he is capable of, while proving the incredible level of competitiveness that exists in our promotional series’. "
Born: 19th June 1992 - Montpellier (France)
2010: Renault Clio Cup France (16th)
2011: Championnat de France F4 (2nd)
2012: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 (21st), Formula Renault 2.0 NEC (13th)
2013: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 (13th), Formula Renault 2.0 NEC (6th)
2014: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 (4th), Formula Renault 2.0 NEC (14th)
2015: Renault Sport Trophy Elite (Winner), Renault Sport Trophy Endurance (Winner)