Today’s two Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 collective testing sessions at Motorland Aragon gave drivers the chance to test their skills in the dry and wet. Figuring large among the pre-season favourites, Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) mastered the variable conditions to remind the rest of the field that they intend to hit the ground running, starting tomorrow with the campaign’s opening qualifying session and race.
The honour of starting the first meeting of the 2012 World Series by Renault season went to the 38 drivers who will contest the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship, which includes three late additions to the field: Christof Von Grunigen (Epic Racing), Daniel Cammish (Atech Reid GP) and Hans Villemi (Koiranen Motorsport).
The opening ten minutes of the first session proved relatively uneventful as the drivers found their bearings, with Nick Cassidy (Fortec Motorsports) the first to show in setting a time of 1:58.482.
The 2012 Toyota Racing Series New Zealand champion was promptly elbowed aside at the top of the timesheets by the R-Ace GP duo Pierre Gasly and Nick de Vries, though it would not be long before the more seasoned members of the field made their entrance. As the pace hotted up, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) and Javier Tarancon (RC Formula) battled it out with Kvyat and Vandoorne for the morning’s fastest time. It was the Belgian, a two-time winner in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC already this season, who eventually claimed it with a flying lap of 1:56.887. Completing the top three were Tarancon and Norman Nato (RC Formula).
Session two kicked off with a thundery shower, upsetting the plans of teams and drivers alike. Though decidedly damp to begin with, track conditions gradually improved as the weather cleared and by mid-session the circuit was completely dry again. Kvyat took full advantage to dip under Vandoorne’s benchmark time. And though Mikko Pakari (Fortec Motorsports), Riberas and Vandoorne all pushed hard, the Russian was not to be dislodged, ending the day on top with a time of 1:56.594, ahead of the Belgian and Jordan King (Manor MP Motorsport), who sneaked into the leading trio just before the chequered flag came out.
What they said:
Daniil Kvyat: “There were no points at stake today but the important thing was to show I’m here and ready for business. I had a perfect weekend in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps and that’s given me confidence. I know this is going to be a very tough challenge and I’ll need to make an excellent start to the season. That’s the key to winning the title.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “We’re right up there, just as we were at all the winter testing sessions. Obviously it’s good for moral to be up there in the leading group all the time. Now we need to build on that in qualifying and in the race itself, because the rest of the drivers are looking sharp, starting with Kvyat and Rowland.”
Nick de Vries: “We were a little bit surprised to be in the mix in the first session because we were running on used tyres, while quite a few of the other drivers were on new ones. The only problem was that I didn’t manage to improve my times like I should have done on new tyres. That’s one area I need to learn how to manage, especially in qualifying.”