The 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup season offically got underway today with the first day of collective tests at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Rookie Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) posted the best time in 1:35.934. The Renault Sport Academy driver led from SMP protégé Racing Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP) and Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Red Bull Junior Team member, Daniel Ticktum (Arden Motorsport) was quickest in the morning. The track record established by Brendon Hartley in 2007 was also lowered on Wednesday.
Representing 9 teams and 15 different nationalities, the 30 drivers entered in the Formula Renault Eurocup began their preparations at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. In the first session, Daniel Ticktum set the pace in 1:36.702. The British rookie led from Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Robert Shwartzman, Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports) and fellow Red Bull Junior Team driver, Neil Verhagen (MP Motorsport).
The rhythm picked up late in the day. Jarno Opmeer moved to the top of the time sheet with a best lap of 1:35.934. The Dutch driver was followed by Robert Shwartzman, Sacha Fenestraz and Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport) by less than five-hundredths of a second. Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing) completed the top five in a session with the top 17 drivers covered by less than a second.
Perfect start for Opmeer
Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport): ”The return to action couldn’t have gone any better, especially after not having driven the car for three months. It is great to start the season so well and what a return for MP Motorsport in the category! We ran 80% of the day on used tyres before switching to new rubber to post a time and play with the set-ups. This season, my goal will be the same as it has always been: win as much as possible.”
Shwartzman has the title in his sights
Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP): “The winter was extremely long with four months out of the car! I was happy to be back behind the wheel and the day went nicely. We were regularly in the top three. I was a little excited, nervous, when we put on new tyres. I made a few mistakes on the first laps, but I managed to calm down to set the second best time. I am working for the first time with a French team. It’s a pretty good experience, the car feels nice, but there’s a big margin of progress. The goal is to win the championship and I will take on each race with victory in my sights.”
Daniel Ticktum (Arden Motorsport): “It was a positive first day to be honest. We were on pace. It is a good point for a team coming into a new category. I have a lot of testing experience with the Formula Renault 2.0, but I haven’t driven since last November. Despite a programme shortened in the afternoon due to an electrical problem, the main thing was to see that we’re right on pace, hitting the ground running. This makes it possible to start the season with an open mind.”
A “productive” debut for Arden Motorsport
Ben Salter, Team Manager: “We are really pleased with our first morning in the Formula Renault Eurocup. A lot of work went into getting here and the performance of Daniel encourages us to continue in this direction. Zane and Ghislain also had a solid day. We have to now continue in this direction. We are still discovering each subtlety of the category, hence our problem on Dan’s car this afternoon, but this first day was very productive.”