Though the dust has barely settled on the Eurocup Megane Trophy season, thoughts have already turned to next year as a host of fresh faces arrived for testing at the Catalunya track, joined by some of the 2011 pack, a few of whom have already switched to new teams. And while Fabien Thuner (Oregon Team) distinguished himself in the first session, it was Michele Faccin (TDS Racing) who nailed the fastest time of the day.
Following an intensive weekend of racing, the Eurocup Megane Trophy teams were back at work on Monday for two sessions of collective testing. Joining them were a number of drivers invited by Renault Sport Technologies as reward for their impressive performances in other events over the course of the year.
One such guest was UK Clio Cup winner Paul Rivett, who linked up with Oregon Team, while Spanish Clio Cup leader Jose-Manuel de los Milagros was at the wheel of a Team Lompech Sport car, and Eurocup Clio and French Clio Cup champion Nicolas Milan took a seat in the car he will be driving next year. And for Mike Verschuur, the leading junior in this year’s Eurocup Clio, the day marked a return to the discipline he won in 2009.
Among the other drivers earning an opportunity at the wheel of a Megane Trophy as the countdown to next season began was Giacomo Ricci (Oregon Team), the winner of a GP2 Series race in 2010, who was driving the World Series by Renault’s distinctive saloon car for the first time. Fellow MT rookies Alessandro Bortesi (TDS Racing), Johan-Boris Scheier (Boutsen Energy Racing), Igor Tananov (Boutsen Energy Racing), Kelvin Snoeks (TDS Racing) and Reto Wust (Boutsen Energy Racing) were also in action, while Superstars Series driver Michela Cerruti was another to succumb to the car’s charms.
Not surprisingly, it was the veterans of the 2011 season who came to the fore, with Thuner, now driving for Oregon Team, and Faccin, in his first drive for TDS Racing, swapping several fastest laps. The Swiss had the last laugh, however, trumping Faccin with a session-topping time of 1:52:752. Single-seater driver Kevin Snoeks, who was on duty in Formula 2 this season, was third-fastest ahead of Verschuur and Ricci.
The sun was blazing and the mercury rising as the afternoon session began, with Faccin and Thuner continuing their dominance from the morning. The Italian was the only man to dip under Thuner’s time, however, and closed the day out ahead of the Swiss and Ricci, who looked entirely at ease in his first taste of Megane Trophy action.
What they said
Paul Rivett: “I won this year’s UK Clio Cup and it’s a pleasure to be driving a Megane Trophy car today. This is my first drive on this track and in this car, and my aim in the first session was to feel my way into things. After that I upped the pace. It’s good to have time to work with the team engineers between the two sessions because it lets you see so many things. I’m really happy to be taking part in testing here.”
Kelvin Snoeks: “This is the first time in my career that I’ve driven anything other than a single-seater, and I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the handling of the Megane Trophy, though it gets very hot inside the car. Competing in this event is definitely an option for next year.”
Giacomo Ricci: “I’ve driven GT cars before but the Megane Trophy is totally different. It handles like a single-seater. You need to keep things tidy going into corners so you can keep your pace up, and you have to remember to hit the brakes hard, just like you do with a single-seater. I’m happy to have found some rhythm out there. The Eurocup Megane Trophy in 2012? Why not?”