It did not take Albert Costa (Oregon Team) long to get to grips with the subtleties of the Moscow Raceway. The Spaniard was in unbeatable form on Friday morning, going more than a second faster than the rest of the Eurocup Megane Trophy field, headed by his team-mates Kevin Gilardoni (Oregon Team) and Fabien Thuner (Oregon Team). Costa would remain there following an afternoon session interrupted by a heavy storm.
The day saw Roberto Moreno (Oregon Team) make his debut in the event, while 2011 Eurocup Megane Trophy champion Stefano Comini (Team Lompech Sport) was making his return. And as was case in the other two World Series by Renault categories on show in Russia this weekend, the first session of collective testing was all about getting acquainted with the track.
Costa had the measure of it in no time, taking top spot on the timesheets on his first lap and staying there right through to the chequered flag. Improving more or less with every lap, the 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault winner posted what would be the day’s quickest time of 1:42.950.
Trailing in Costa’s wake were his Oregon Team colleagues Gilardoni and Thuner, with Tom Coronel (TDS Racing) ending the session in fourth, while championship frontrunner Bas Schothorst (TDS Racing) had to make do with sixth.
Session two, which took place late afternoon, began with the TDS Racing contingent looking to get the better of their Oregon Team rivals. Coronel made his intentions clear by moving out in front at the start of the session, ahead of Schothorst and Kelvin Snoeks (TDS Racing) but still behind Costa’s morning benchmark. A heavy downpour then hit the Moscow Raceway, forcing race stewards to halt proceedings for a few minutes.
The green flags were out when the session resumed, as were the wet tyres, with drivers taking the opportunity to get a feel of the track in the wet. There would be no change in the standings as Costa, looking totally at ease, ended the day where he began it, out in front.
What they said:
Albert Costa: “I walked the track yesterday and I knew straightaway that this was my type of circuit. It has a real rhythm to it and you need to be in good physical shape. I opened up a gap this morning and I was going to give my brakes a workout this afternoon, but then the rain came. If the weather’s dry, I think we can get under 1:42 in qualifying.”
Stefano Comini: “I’m really happy to be back. I’ve been preparing for the last fortnight because the Megane Trophy is a lot more physical than the Clio Cup or even the Lamborghini GT3. We need to work on the car a bit and there are a few things we have to straighten out first if we’re going to be in the mix. It’s one turn after another on this track. There’s no respite.”
Roberto Moreno: “It’s been three years since I’ve driven a race car, so I needed to a bit of time. This Megane is an absolute joy to drive, though. The engine is very efficient and it handles just like a single-seater. I’d like to thank Renault Sport Technologies for giving me the chance to drive this car. I’m working with Lucas Foresti and a number of other drivers, and today I’ve been able to show them that driving fast is easier said than done.”