September was a very busy month during which the drivers in the Renault Sport Trophy raced at Silverstone, the Nürburgring and the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in quick succession. We met the second driver line-up of the only French team involved in the category. Dutchman Indy Dontje and Toni Forné from Catalonia share the no. 3 Renault Sport R.S 01 entered by the ART Junior team: an atypical duo determined to succeed.
While Indy Dontje aged 22 is having his first season in the World Series by Renault, his team-mate Toni Forné is a well-known face in the 100% Renault event. The gentleman driver from Catalonia raced in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy, and he is now taking up a new challenge in another category organised by Renault Sport Technologies. They are currently lying fifth in endurance and aiming to score their first victory at Le Mans this coming weekend.
First place: Indy Dontje’s and Toni Forni’s aim at Le Mans and Jerez.
Tell us about your career
Toni Forné : After beginning in karts at 18, I won the Catalonian Championship and finished fourth in the National Seniors. Elf helped me to race in its Promotion Cup in which I came second. I then started in rallies before returning to the circuits in the Supercopa Seat Leon and followed by the Eurocup Mégane Trophy in which I was among the fastest gentlemen drivers. Last year I raced in the Radical European Masters and won the Supersport title.
Indy Dontje : I began in karts in 2003. Over the years I finished sixth in in my category, and then won the national title in Rotax Max Junior. Later on I was in the leading trio in the SKUSA in Las Vegas two years running. Lotus then contacted me and asked me to move up to single-seaters with Motopark in the ADAC Formel Masters. In my first season I was seventh with a top-three finish. I did it again the following year and came sixth with two victories. In 2014, I competed in the ATS F3 Cup, the German F3 Championship, and finished third, the best performance by a rookie. At the beginning of the year I moved to GT in the Blancpain Endurance Series thanks to AMG with a programme I was able to round off with the Renault Sport Trophy.
Aged 22 Indy Dontje has decided to bet on GT racing to become a professional.
Why have you chosen the Renault Sport Trophy?
Indy : I have only five races in the Blancpain Endurance Series which gives little track time, and the Renault Sport Trophy has everything to become a new benchmark category. My first tests at Motorland Aragon went off well as the Renault R.S 01 is a very exciting car to drive. It’s very similar to a GT3 although it has more downforce and more grip, as well as being a bit like an LM P2. Which is good as Le Mans is one of my objectives by 2017!
Toni : It’s a category and a car adapted to all levels of driving. As I’ve never raced in single-seaters I have very little experience of such downforce levels. This is one of the aspects I’m learning among others like high-speed grip.
After trying the Renault 3.5 Series Indy Donje had his first taste of the World by Renault Series this season.
How would you describe the Renault Sport R.S 01?
Toni : Fantastic! It’s the best car I’ve ever driven in my career. What’s most impressive are its braking and deceleration. It’s also got enormous grip, mind-blowing performance and a lot of power low down. And I think it looks really fabulous!
Indy : I agree with Toni. The Renault Sport R.S 01’s braking is impressive and it’s almost like a game to brake as late as possible! Unlike a GT3 you can really push in the quick curves. I was surprised by the speed in Becketts and in the right/left handers after the pit exit at Silverstone. I wasn’t expecting to go through them almost flat out. It’s pretty cool and it’s got very typical aerodynamics, which correspond to my experience in in single-seaters.
The two men got used to their new car very quickly.
What are your aims in the Renault Sport Trophy?
Indy : Our initial aim was to be in front and win the title. Unfortunately, we’ve had some problems and we were a bit unlucky at the beginning of the year. We had to adapt a little and on the restart at Silverstone we finished third in Endurance and Prestige and second in Elite. We’re back fighting at the front and we can finish the championship on a high note. Toni and I are a good team and we can create an upset by finishing in the top three in all three categories.
Toni : Nothing to add. Indy’s said it all!
Their first podium finish in endurance at Silverstone.