Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4) set the best time of 1:39.578 in the first-ever collective tests for the Renault Sport Trophy at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola. The Brazilian driver led from Markus Paltalla (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9) and David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #5). Roy Geerts (Equipe Verschuur #19) and 2015 Prestige category champion, Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #1), completed the top five.
The field had three 55-minute practice sessions on Friday before tomorrow’s qualifying and Endurance race.
Meindert van Buuren early leader
While Toni Forné (R-ace GP #2) was the first on the track, the times quickly fell thanks to the efforts of Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing #42), Dario Capitanio, David Fumanelli, Bruno Bonifacio, Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP #3) and Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP #3).
In the final 10 minutes, Meindert van Buuren (V8 Racing #8) moved to the top of the order with a lap of 1:41.792 to lead the session ahead of the best placed AM driver Fredrik Blomstedt, Dario Capitanio, Bruno Bonifacio and Raoul Owens (R-ace GP #2).
Geerts and Bonifacio out front
In session two, Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) lowered the reference time set by his countryman, before Bruno Bonifacio and Roy Geerts went better. The 2013 Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Junior champion completed his final run with a time of 1:40.424, 32/1000ths of a second quicker than Bruno Bonifacio. Lewis Williamson, David Fumanelli and Markus Palttala rounded out the top five.
In the final session of the day Kevin Korjus improved upon the time of Roy Geerts before David Fumanelli and Bruno Bonifacio heated up the action in the final 15 minutes. The Brazilian driver clocked the fastest lap of the day in 1:39.758, pipping Markus Palttala by a very close 25/1000ths of a second. David Fumanelli, Dario Capitanio and Meindert van Buuren followed on the time sheet.
Bruno Bonifacio: “We are already more competitive than we were at Alcañiz. Maybe it is my new hair cut that gave us more downforce? But seriously, we worked on the car’s balance, while adapting to the improvement of the track as the day went on. We think we know how the track will change tomorrow, but we have to make the right decisions. I am pleased with these tests, we’ve drawn a lot of positives, but qualifying will be short and we’ll need to have a good car straight away.”
Roy Geerts: “It was a good day on a track that I had never driven on before. We started with a base set-up with which I was already confident about and we managed to make it better. I set good times before the final session that was not quite as good because I used the tyres from the previous session. All in all, I think that we will be competitive and I am confident for tomorrow. It is still hard to know if it will rain because the forecasts are previewing a little bit of everything. Tomorrow will be a new day and we shall see in due course. In any case, it will be fun and our roof protects us from the rain!”
Meindert van Buuren: “The day went well. I drove alone in the first session before handing over to my team mate who wasn’t here this morning. I was able to put in several laps and then I got back in late in the day and the track had changed enormously. I lost some time as I adjusted, but in contrast to some others, we only ran on used tyres. We could make a big leap forward on fresh rubber and aim for the top three.”