Inside Renault Sport Trophy #3

After the long summer break the drivers in the Renault Sport Trophy are champing at the bit to climb back into their Renault Sport R.S 01s at Silverstone. Dutchman Steijn Schothorst and Slovakian Richard Gonda, winners of the sprint races at the Hungaroring, are determined to continue in the same vein in Elite for the first-named and Prestige for the second.

The first half of the season will end at Silverstone where the World Series by Renault will restart after the summer break, so let’s meet the two current hot shoes. One is already assured of leaving England leading his category while the other is determined to take over the reins in his.

Steijn Schothorst
20-year-old Steijn is far from being the first Schothorst to shine in the World Series by Renault. He shares his car with his dad Jeroen and among his rivals in the Renault Sport Trophy is his cousin, Bas. After three seasons in Formula Renault 2.0, he decided to ring down the curtain on his single-seater career. It was the right move as he’s had a 100 per cent winning record so far in the Elite classification.

Where are you from?
“I come from a family that’s closely linked to motor sport. In 2008, I attended a World Series by Renault meeting for the first time at Le Mans. My father was driving, but I was too young to get behind the wheel. I quickly fell in love with the racing and the atmosphere of this event. I grew up in it and I was lucky enough to compete in Formula Renault 2.0 and now in the Renault Sport Trophy.”


In the Verschuur team, Steijn Schothorst (right) shares his Renault Sport R.S 01 with his father Jeroen who already raced in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy.

Why did you choose the Renault Sport Trophy?
“I reckon that if you don’t win at a certain level you don’t deserve to move up to the next. Firstly, because of the higher costs and secondly if you haven’t proved yourself in the lower categories you won’t do so at the upper levels. On this basis I think that the Renault Sport Trophy is an excellent championship for these drivers, including myself, so I took the decision to orient my career to GTs.”

How would you describe the Renault Sport R.S 01?
“It’s fantastic! While there a lot of things to learn it’s still similar to a single-seater. The Renault Sport R.S. 01 is part of the continuity of the racing cars developed by Renault Sport Technologies. But having a roof over your head makes a radical change to the sensations. I struggled a bit to feel the speed but I adapted quite quickly. Technically speaking it’s really amazing in every area: braking, aerodynamics, efficiency, etc.”


Steijn Schothorst began winning right from the start.

What are your aims in the Renault Sport Trophy?
“The first aim this season was to learn the ropes while having fun with my dad who shares our car in the endurance events. But I’m a racer and I also wanted to score as many points as possible. Everything’s gone off like a dream up till now and I’m leading the Elite category having pulled off a clean sweep. It makes me very happy for the team who’ve done a marvellous job. It’s up to us to continue the good work.”

Richard Gonda
Richard Gonda is Andrea Pizzitola, team-mate and so far he’s had a good half season. The 21-year-old Slovakian has clinched three pole positions out of three, and scored two top-3 finishes with the Frenchman as well as two wins in the Prestige category. The ART Junior Team driver is second in this class and his aim at Silverstone is clear: overtake Diederik Sijthoff and snatch the lead!


Gonda won in Hungary

Tell us about your career so far
“I made my international racing debut in Formula Renault 2.0, mainly thanks to my entry in the North European Cup. I had a few outings as a wild card in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. I then had some one-offs in F2 before winning the Copa class in the European F3 Open Championship in 2013. Last year I finished third in FA1, a series that run the ex-A1 GP cars and this season I’ve come into the Renault Sport Trophy.”

Why did you choose the Renault Sport Trophy?
“As I’ve worked my way up it soon became clear that I‘d never have the budget to reach the top. Bearing this in mind I started to look round to see what else there was apart from single-seaters. The Renault Sport Trophy had just been announced, and racing within the context of the World Series by Renault helped me to attract partners who were looking for more visibility. In the same way this category is helping me to achieve my aim, which is to become a professional racing driver. The prize consisting of a seat for the next Le Mans 24 Hours is a big contribution to this.”


This weekend Richard Gonda will be back at Silverstone, a circuit he knows well (here in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2011).

How would you describe the Renault Sport R.S 01?
“It’s a very pleasant car to drive with powerful brakes and a good balance. The biggest change for me was having to get used to a roof over my head, as well as the weight and the way it causes the car to behave.”

What are your ambitions in the Renault Sport Trophy?
“As a driver you always want to win. We’ve had a few problems with our preparation, but I adapted very quickly and I wanted to win as soon as possible in the Renault R.S 01 for the very professional ART Junior Team. But the World Series by Renault Championships are very competitive; that’s one of their main characteristics. I managed to score a victory in Hungary, which I’m very proud of as many of my fellow-countrymen made the journey to come and support me. We have to keep on working with Andrea and the team to be in the mix on a regular basis in the last four meetings and clinch the title.”


Richard Gonda is ready to make the leap to the top!