On the day after the season finale of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the teams in the category returned to Circuito de Jerez for the rookie test. 28 drivers were present this Monday to compose a field of some known faces and young hopefuls invited by Renault Sport Technologies. Sahara Force India Academy protégé, Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing) posted the best time of 1:40.642 to lead the way ahead of Max Defourny (Tech 1 Racing) and Harrison Scott (ART Junior Team). Simo Laaksonen (Koiranen GP) was quickest among the invited rookies ahead of Sacha Fenestraz (Tech 1 Racing) and Ricky Collard (AVF).
Among the drivers selected by Renault Sport Technologies was winner of this year’s Formula Renault 1.6 Nordic, Oliver Söderström (Manor MP Motorsport) and the leaders in the Autosport Academy and Formula 4 as well as Luca Corberi (BVM) coming over from karting. Renault gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their talents to the next level.
Under a light rainfall, Jehan Daruvala led the way until Max Defourny went quicker. Harrison Scott then moved to the top of the order with a time of 1:54.773 ahead of the Belgian driver, Darius Oskoui (AVF) and the Fortec Motorsports cars of Lando Norris and Nikita Troitskiy. Weather conditions improved for the second session, during which the track dried. Alexey Korneev (JD Motorsport) was at the sharp end of the order with a time of 1:43.402 to lead the way ahead of Lando Norris, Ricky Collard, Harrison Scott and Jehan Daruvala.
Marked by a long stoppage caused by Ferdinand Habsburg (Tech 1 Racing), session three turned to the advantage of Jehan Daruvala in 1:40.642. The Indian native was 3/10ths of a second ahead of Max Defourny, who in turn was ahead of Harrison Scott, Lando Norris and Darius Oskoui. The rain returned during the final hour. While he lowered his best time in going quicker than Max Defourny and Jehan Daruvala, Harrison Scott remained behind the Indian and Belgian in the overall classification of the day.
Jehan Daruvala: “To work with another team is a different experience. I had to get used to the car during the morning. It was good on new tyres and I am happy to have been the fastest. It was a strong day, we were consistently up front. I look forward to my next tests, the next two days in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Comtec Racing.”
Simo Laaksonen: “This was my first day in the Formula Renault 2.0. Everything was new. It is a lot faster than an F4 and there was an enormous amount of things to learn. I constantly improved and there was a big difference between the start and the end of the day. I have quickly adapted to the car, which makes handing the different weather conditions easier.”
Sacha Fenestraz: “Day one was very positive. We learned a lot of things, most notably with the weather conditions because we had everything: dry, wet, slippery…This allowed me to practice using different set-ups that we might use next year but first I have to finish the French F4 Championship were I am aiming for a spot in the top three before preparing for the 2016 Formula Renault 2.0. The biggest adaptations between the two cars are the power when reaccelerating and the grip in the corners. You can’t be afraid to enter faster and you have to get used to it!”
Ricky Collard: “It was a great experience to feel a car that has aerodynamics. It is totally different from what we have in the MSA Formula. The first session on a wet track made learning a bit tricky, but I manage to move up the order to finish third best at mid-day. The team and engineer did a good job today. I think that the performance is already there, but to stand out in this very competitive championship, I will have to put in the laps to gain experience.”