The 2016 Renault Sport Trophy season began this Tuesday with the maiden collective tests at the Motorland Aragón circuit in the first official runing of the Renault Sport R.S. 01s on the track that will host the opening round of the year. The Marc VDS Racing Team made quite a first impression. The #9 team of Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller posted best time of the day in 1:52.890. They were followed by Bruno Bonifacio and Andrés Mendez (Oregon Team #4) and Lewis Williamson and Tim Sugden (Strakka Racing #42), who were quickest in the morning session.
While not all the teams were on hand, Strakka Racing, Marc VDS Racing Team and High Class Racing made their debut while some familiar faces were present like defending Prestige champion, Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #1).
Rain greeted the Renault Sport Trophy drivers and teams as they began their pre-season preparations After two hours, Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21) was the first to switch to slick tyres ; and the pace improved progressively with Lewis Williamson setting a time of 1:54.487. The British was followed by the 2010 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 winner, Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP #3), and the Marc VDS Racing Team #9 of Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller.
In the afternoon, the British duo improved upon their previous best before being dislodged by Markus Palttala and Bruno Bonifacio in the final ten minutes. Pieter Schothorst and Tanart Sathienthirakul (Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the top five.
Best time for Markus Palttala
“We were able to begin the long testing work with my new team mate with the first round in sight. Conditions were not optimal this morning. I was actually hoping for more rain as I hadn’t ever driven the Renault Sport R.S. 01 on a wet track. The track dried faster than we had though it would, but my first feedback is positive. I love the car. With its downforce and carbon-fibre brakes, the Renault Sport R.S. 01 reminds me of an old GT1 or a DTM. Our objective is the title, but today we have seen that the times are very close. The competition will be tough, but we’re always aiming for the top.”
Bruno Bonifacio already on pace
“The Renault Sport R.S. 01 represents one of the biggest challenges of my career. It is a fantastic car, but difficult to drive compared to open-wheel cars like the Formula Renault 3.5. You have to adapt to and re-learn everything. Nevertheless, it is nice to have a roof ; you stay dry when it rains ! Today, everything went well. There is still a long way to go before the first race of the season. We will try to improve everything we can. We don’t know where we are compared to our rivals, but we’re finding our marks. We’re doing a good job and we must continue like this.”
Barclay Danaher (Team Manager, Strakka Racing) “Confident after this successful first day”
“We are really satisfied with how the day went. We have had our Renault Sport R.S. 01 for a week. We are trying to bring together the best elements of Strakka Racing in order to ideally launch this project. It was a proper learning day for both the team and the drivers. Lewis comes from nearly an exclusive open-wheel background and Tim had never driven car with as much downforce. We set the best time in the morning and were competitive in the afternoon. There is still some ground for us to make up, but the team will regroup after the test and we are confident after this successful first day.”