A year ago Alain Prost gave the Renault Sport R.S 01 its first public outing on the Jerez circuit. This weekend the first season of the Renault Sport Trophy will end on the same circuit. The Endurance and Prestige titles have already been awarded so the only one still up for grabs is in the Elite category. Three drivers will go head to head to obtain a rookie test with the works Nismo team in Super GT.
The teams entered for the Renault Sport Trophy will arrive in Andalusia for their final rendezvous of the year with an action-packed final in perspective between the best three drivers in Renault’s latest promotional formula.
Andrea Pizzitola in the lead
At Le Mans Andrea Pizzitola scored his first sprint victory in Elite at just the right moment.
Despite his impeccable performances at Spa and the Hungaroring Steijn Schothorst had the lead in the overall classification snatched from him by Andrea Pizzitola at Le Mans. The 23-year-old driver from Montpellier has finished all the races in the top 5 and he has opened up a slight gap.
“The team did a fantastic job at Le Mans to help us take the lead in the championship,” said a delighted Frenchman, a regular in the promotional formulas organised by Renault Sport Technologies. “We’re in an ideal situation and obviously our aim is to be still on top on Sunday evening. We were a bit unlucky with reliability early on in the year, but the title has always been our aim. We’ve now shown we can be consistent, quick and reliable.”
Will the driver in the ART Junior team finally win a title after launching himself into the Renault Sport Trophy following three seasons in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 ?
“I’ve been racing in Renault events since my debut in the Clio Cup,” recalls the former rival of Matthieu Vaxiviere and Pierre Gasly at the Autosport Academy. “The overall level in all the championships is very high, and here you feel well looked after and appreciated. It’s high time I won a title !”
Steijn Schothorst is determined to get back on top
Nevertheless, the worst result of the season will be dropped after the finale, and the Dutchman has the advantage because he has two retirements so far this season, while the Frenchman has finished all his races in the points.
Schothorst led the championship until Le Mans and he’s determined to get back on top. After celebrating his twenty-first birthday on Monday the Verschuur team driver will try and repeat his 2014 performance when he finished in front of his team-mate in both races on the Jerez circuit.
Andrea Pizzitola and Steijn Schothorst were team-mates in the Manor MP Motorsport squad last year in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.
‘It’s the last round of the season and I’m going to pull out all the stops to win the title,” says the driver who shares his car with his dad. “Although we had a bad weekend at Le Mans due to mechanical failure we’ve always had the speed. As always we’ll be aiming for the topmost step of the podium.”
Schothorst could become the first member of his family to win a title in the World Series by Renault. Three years ago his cousin and current rival, Bas, finished second in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy after a crazy final in Barcelona. The Dutchman is playing for high stakes this weekend and he has always believed in his chances after three campaigns in Formula Renault 2.0.
Steijn Schothorst believes in his chances.
“I attended my first World Series by Renault meeting in 2008. My dad was driving, I was too young. Now we share the same Renault Sport R.S 01 and I can win the title. To be honest we knew from the outset we could aim for the title in Elite. The season got off to a great start and then we lost momentum, but we’ve bounced back at the right moment.”
While it looks like here will be a ferocious scrap between Pizzitola and Schothorst, a third driver is hoping to use the situation to his advantage to try and obtain a seat in one of the most prestigious championships in the world.
David Fumanelli, the long shot
As the Elite drivers will have to qualify for the endurance race the intermediate classification of the event for two drivers will award as many points as the final sprint race. Thus, 50 points will be up for grabs at Jerez. Third-placed David Fumanelli will be aiming for a clean sweep to clinch the title at the last moment.
David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio can give the Oregon team a clean sweep. The two drivers have already won two titles for the Italian team.
Fumanelli and Capitanio scored the first victory of the season and then the first title in the history of the Renault Sport Trophy, so the Italian will not be under any pressure as his team-mate has won in Prestige. He clinched his first win at Le Mans in the Prestige Sprint, and he’s determined to maintain the momentum to achieve his aim : namely, a rookie test with the Nismo works team in Super GT.
“We were very quick at Le Mans although I’d never raced there before,” smiled Fumanelli in the Sarthe. “Winning the two titles the same weekend was a very exciting experience. It was almost perfect as I gave everything in Elite. Steijn had a big lead but we were a bit lucky with his retirement. We can still catch up ! Even if I know Jerez it’s going to be difficult. But I’ve got nothing to lose.”
David Fumanelli has done a lot of testing at Jerez during his career. It’s an advantage that could make the difference.
“I’m going for the title,” Fumanelli continued. “Scoring our first victory at Spa gave us confidence, but we haven’t always been able to put it all together even though we have all we need to achieve our objective. At Le Mans the car was very quick as Dario and I won the two sprint races. We’ll work very hard with the whole team to reach the same level at Jerez.”
Ten drivers who can change the game
Against the three challengers, outsiders Indy Dontje (ART Junior Team), Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing) and Luciano Bacheta (Oregon Team) will try to end the year on a high note. José Manuel Perez Aicart (Monlau Competicion), Meindert van Buuren (V8 Racing), Bas Schothorst (Zele Racing), Alan Hellmeister (Oregon Team), Nelson Panciatici (Monlau Competicion) and Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur) give it their all as well, as will former Formula 1 driver Christian Klien (Zele Racing).