Charles Leclerc (Fortec Motorsports) set a new track record for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 on day two of collective testing. At the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the 16 year-old Monaco-born driver went quickest with a lap of 1:42.308, beating his team-mate Matt Parry (Fortec Motorsports) and Bruno Bonifacio (Prema Powerteam). Aurélien Panis (ART Junior Team) set the fastest time of the afternoon session without troubling the overall mark set by Charles Leclerc.
Weather conditions were ideal for the second day of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 collective testing in Barcelona. Only one change was worth noting among the driver line-up, with British driver Matthew Graham switching from China BRT by JCS to AVF.
As soon as the morning session got underway, Bruno Bonifacio, Beitske Visser (AVF), Martin Rump (Fortec Motorsports) and Andrea Pizzitola (Manor MP Motorsport) took it in turns to top the timesheets. After the session was red-flagged following an incident involving Nicholas Surguladze (Koiranen GP), Kevin Jörg (Josef Kaufmann Racing) claimed top spot, before Bruno Bonifacio and Martin Rump hit back within quick succession. Following two further interruptions, Egor Orudzhev (Tech 1 Racing) and Matt Parry moved into first place, before Charles Leclerc set the fastest lap with a time of 1:42.308. The Monaco-born driver’s new track record for the category was enough to finish ahead of Matt Parry, also in a Fortec, as well as Bruno Bonifacio, Beitske Visser and Egor Orudzhev.
After focussing on performance in the morning, the teams turned their attention to working on their cars’ set-up in the afternoon. First to set a timed lap, Matt Parry was quickly dislodged from top spot by Bruno Bonifacio before red flags halted proceedings after an incident involving Ignazio D’Agosto (Koiranen GP). When the session resumed, the Brazilian saw his team-mate Dennis Olsen grab the fastest time before he then hit back. Long time leader, Bonifacio lost first place to Beitske Visser in the third hour of the session. The action intensified again in the final ten minutes of the test, with a late surge of fast times that saw Aurélien Panis finish ahead of Charles Leclerc, Matt Parry, Beitske Visser and Louis Delétraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing).
The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 drivers and teams will meet up again for their final collective test at the Circuito de Jerez on 27-28 March, before starting their season at Motorland Aragón on 25-27 April.
What they said:
Charles Leclerc: “I don’t think the tests could have gone any better. It’s incredible being a rookie and setting the fastest overall time! We still have plenty of work to do, although I have learned a lot. Listening to the engineers is the key to making progress quickly. And although it’s nice to be quickest, it is still only testing. The races themselves will be a different matter.”
Bruno Bonifacio: “Although Barcelona isn’t on the race calendar this season, it’s an excellent test track. These two days were therefore important. We were able to acquire a lot of data about the new features of the car, such as the brakes and the tyres. We’ll also need to get used to them. Overall, it has been very positive test and we’re in good shape to get some excellent results.”
Aurélien Panis: “This afternoon, we set the fastest time but that doesn’t mean a great deal because not everyone put on fresh tyres. We have done a lot of work with the team over the last couple of days. Although we still need to find a little bit of performance, the work seems to be paying off. We’ve got a strong foundation, and I hope to keep improving with them.”