There was plenty of Formula Renault 2.0 traffic on the Catalunya track on Monday as 44 drivers assembled for collective testing, with a healthy smattering of rookies featuring among some more familiar faces. On a day marked by numerous red flags, it was no surprise to see the experienced trio of Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) dominate events, while teenager Nick de Vries (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Nick Cassidy (Fortec Motorsport) also looked very much at ease.
Among the field gathering for the two sessions were the leading quintet in the French F4 Championship (Mathieu Vaxiviere, Andrea Pizzitola, Pierre Sancinena, Pierre Gasly and Patrick Kujala), all of whom had been invited by Renault Sport Technologies, not to mention karting drivers selected by the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK FIA) and the Tony Kart drivers. Nick Cassidy, the runner-up in the 2011 Toyota Racing Series, was also present and correct, as was Samy Guth, the leading Formula Renault 2.0 driver in the French Hillclimbing Championship.
For many of the young guns it was their first experience of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 action, and with several of them running off the track, the red flags put in numerous appearances in a stop-start first session. Ed Jones (Fortec Motorsports) laid down an early marker before the stalwarts of the 2011 season got to work. Serralles and Vandoorne, taking his place in a Josef Kaufmann Racing single-seater, contested first place before Kvyat went fastest with a time of 1:49:593.
New Zealander Cassidy caught the eye by taking second place ahead of Serralles, Vandoorne and Javier Tarancon (RC Formula), while 16-year-old kart driver De Vries, who won the CIK FIA KF2 world title last year and the WSK Euro Series KF1 this, also starred in taking sixth.
The red flags were out again in session two, though that did not stop the drivers from stringing several laps together. As the rookies improved their times, Serralles and Vandoorne set the standard for the rest of the field; until, that is, Kvyat pipped everyone late on with the day’s fastest lap of 1:45:386.
What they said:
Nick de Vries: “It’s been a good day. I gained in confidence with each lap, especially after the long chat I had with the team between sessions. I’ve raced twice in Formula Renault 2.0 before but this is the first time I’ve driven this track. What with the traffic and the red flags it wasn’t easy, and there’s a world of difference between karting and single-seaters. It’s the next stage for me, but there’s a lot of work ahead.”
Nick Cassidy: “The first session went well. I made a few changes to the car and managed to go second-fastest without putting new tyres on. I couldn’t get out in the second session because of a technical problem, but considering it’s my first time in this car and on this track, it’s been a positive experience overall. I’m going back to New Zealand for the Toyota Racing Series, but I’d like to come and drive in Europe in 2012.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere: “I’ve done a day’s testing in Formula Renault 2.0 at the Nogaro track in France, and I was pretty much at ease with the car. I never really got to grips with the traffic, though, which makes it difficult to assess my performance today, though I did put some good sectors together. We’re working with next season’s Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in mind and today’s given us a good idea of what we can expect in 2012.”