Inside Renault Sport Trophy #2

After making the very best of debuts in the Renault Sport R.S. 01 at Spa-Francorchamps, the Renault Sport Trophy field has now decamped to the Hungaroring for the second meeting of their season. Fresh from their win on the opening day of the Belgium weekend, Italian duo David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio have arrived in Hungary as the leaders in the Endurance standings. Meanwhile, the drivers who are respectively setting the pace in the Elite and Prestige classes are Steijn Schothorst and Diederik Sijthoff.

During the very successful first meeting for the Renault Sport R.S. 01s, the Oregon Team carried out a perfect driver change and went on to win the first cup. Let’s chat with the first winning team in the championship.

Dario Capitanio

Twenty-year-old Dario Capitanio entered for the Renault Sport Trophy after three seasons in Formula Renault 2.0. He was always in the leading trio of Prestige drivers in practice, and the former runner-up in the Italian Kart Championship confirmed his status at Spa-Francorchamps by clinching victory in Endurance. While he is only in eighth place in the individual ratings after the Belgian round, he can be relied on to quickly fight his way up the time sheets in the battle for the title.

What about your career ?

After karts, I decided to race in Formula Renault 2.0 just before my 17th birthday. I thought it was the best possible training ground in single-seaters. I began in the Italian championship in which I finished third and after that I drove a new car in the ALPS in 2013. It was a tough season, but in 2014 we had the latest Formula Renault 2.0 and I was able to fight my way up to seventh place.

The Italian had made his debut in the World Series by Renault a year earlier at Spa, thanks to a wild card in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.

Why have you opted for the Renault Sport Trophy ?

Like every driver my aim is to become a professional. It’s a fairly common dream that’s very difficult to fulfil. Luckily, right from the beginning of my tests with the Oregon Team and the R.S. 01, I knew that I had the right combination to achieve this. The prize money for the Prestige champion is also a motivating factor. If I get the seat in LM P2 for next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours it’ll help reduce the distance between me and my objective !

How would you describe the Renault Sport R.S. 01 ?

It’s a great car to drive. It brakes very well and it’s got a huge amount of grip in the corners even on worn tyres. With the two race sprint format and above all the endurance event, I really have to get the best out of the tyres. They’re pretty specific, and I’m finding it a bit difficult to get to grips with them, but it didn’t handicap us at Spa ! Perhaps the most difficult thing is to find the right compromise between your driving style and that of your team-mate. I’m used to single-seaters and it’s a very different experience, another world in fact. Going flat out through the Raidillon with a heavy car and full petrol tank is a crazy feeling !

“The Raidillon with the Renault Sport R.S. 01 and a full petrol tank is a crazy feeling,” says Dario Capitanio

What are your aims in your first season in the Renault Sport Trophy ?

Well, everybody wants to win and I’m no exception. The only way to do this is to find the limit : not only yours, that of the car, the championship and the mechanical aspect. As I said earlier my aim is to become a professional driver. To win the title and fulfil my dream I must reach these limits to win. It’s the only way to succeed. I made a good start at Spa by passing two cars but the leading duo was way ahead. I controlled the gap and the team made the difference. I was less lucky in the sprint races although I scored fifteen points in the intermediary classification in endurance. It’s both good and not so good, but we’ve still got enough time to catch the others.

David Fumanelli

David Fumanelli is Dario Capitano’s team-mate and he shared the honours with his fellow-countryman in the first race in the history of the Renault Sport Trophy. The Italian is in the Elite category, and he left the world of single-seaters for GTs last year to try his luck in the new championship launched by Renault Sport Technologies. Fumanelli was soon very much at home behind the wheel of the Renault Sport R.S. 01, and he has stated his aims : namely, clinching the title and the rookie test with the works Nismo team in Super GT.

First start, first victory for Fumanelli

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career ?

Like Dario, I began in Formula Renault 2.0 in Italy. My first year was a learning experience, and I continued in F3 in which I scored my first victories and fought for the European F3 Open title in 2010 and 2011. Then I had a successful test in the GP3 Series. I had my first top-3 finish in my third meeting, but my progress wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. Last year I gave a new orientation to my career by starting in GT in the Blancpain Sprint Series.

Why have you opted for the Renault Sport Trophy ?

In my first test I felt that this car was the ideal launch pad between single-seaters and GTs. You can see from the times that we’re quicker than the GT3s. In the same way that Formula Renault 2.0 helps you when you’re making the transition between karts and promotional formulas, the Renault Sport Trophy is the perfect solution to adapt to GTs and other professional championships.

An impeccably-planned driver change helped David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio to win the endurance race

How would you describe the Renault Sport R.S. 01 ?

First of all it’s a very nice car to drive as it doesn’t roll about very much. The front reacts very quickly and the steering is very accurate. In addition, it’s quick with great aerodynamics ; the carbon brakes are really impressive and you can brake very late with them. It took me a little time to get used to the ABS and the weight of the car, but overall it’s similar to a single-seater, just a bit heavier !

What are your aims in the Renault Sport Trophy ?

Even before the season began I wanted to fight for the title. Our win has given us a lot of confidence and now I have to build on that. I think that the team and I have what’s necessary to achieve this objective. It won’t be easy given that we’re up against good drivers, but we’re pushing to the maximum each weekend to do so. Honestly, we couldn’t have wished for a better start with our victory at Spa. Dario did a great first stint, the mechanics carried out an excellent pit stop and all I had to do was to control my pursuers on my exit lap to get the tyres up to the right temperature. Unfortunately, when the points counted I was hit by another car. I have to close the gap in Budapest and we can do it. We were on the pace at Spa as we were only a tenth-of-a-second off pole.

David Fumanelli’s hopes for a double were soon dashed in the Elite sprint race

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