With its unique layout, history and atmosphere, Spa-Francorchamps is loved by drivers and motorsport fans alike. The Belgian track will host the next round of the World Series by Renault this coming weekend, one of the high points of the WSR season, with all four international championships organised by Renault Sport Technologies on the bill for the first time this year. It promises to be quite a meeting.
Belgium hosted the very first World Series by Renault meeting at Zolder in 2005. Two years later Spa-Francorchamps, nestling in the Ardennes, took over as the series’ Belgian venue, quickly establishing itself as one of the main attractions of the season and drawing large crowds in the process.
For the first time this year all four WSR categories are on the card, with Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Eurocup Megane Trophy and Eurocup Clio sharing the Ardennes track with a host of other attractions. Chief among them are two Formula One drivers, with Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi heading the Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 Show and Caterham F1 Team’s Dutch driver Giedo Van der Garde, the 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, also in action.
In the infield, meanwhile, there is another world for race-goers to discover in the Renault Village, where the marque’s entire range will be on show, including the Captur. The Time Tunnel will take visitors on a journey back through Renault’s history, and the Alpine, Track, Clio and Rally-themed areas provide a link between the past, the present and the future. Over in the F1 Paddock, the Children’s Village, complete with bouncy castles and a road safety awareness workshop, will stand next to the Z.E. exhibition devoted to Renault’s range on electrical vehicles. There will also be a competitive edge in the Sport Paddock, where racing fans can try their hand at the Renault Sport and Michelin simulators and the Pit Stop Challenge and check out the Infiniti Red Bull Racing area and Red Bull Street Style demos.
Formula Renault 3.5 Series: Stoffel Vandoorne aiming for home win
After the season’s opening five races at Monza, Motorland Aragon and Monaco, Kevin Magnussen (DAMS) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) have broken away at the top of the standings, with the Dane 14 points ahead after taking fourth place at Monaco, where his title rival could only finish ninth.
Racing on home soil, Vandoorne will be keen to return to the top of the podium and cut the deficit. Blessed with the support of the RACB since the start of his career, the reigning Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion will not be lacking in motivation at a meeting where he will be the crowd favourite.
Third in the overall standings after his win in Monaco, Nico Muller (International Draco Racing) is now 30 points adrift of the leader and will be eyeing more success in Belgium as he looks to move into title contention.
Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham), Arthur Pic (AV Formula) and Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing) also need to get in among the points and find some consistency if they are to close in on the leading duo, while Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin (ISR), the revelation of the Motorland Aragon meeting, also has designs on keeping pace with the leaders.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0: Matthieu Vaxiviere the man to beat
Matthieu Vaxiviere’s (Tech 1 Racing) superb clean sweep in the season’s opening meet at Motorland Aragon shot him to the top of the standings, though the French driver is well aware that he is now a marked man on the grid.
The Frenchman’s closest challengers are Esteban Ocon (ART Junior Team) and Egor Orudzhev (Tech 1 Racing), who both joined him on the podium in Spain but are respectively 24 and 26 points behind him in the championship standings.
Among the other title candidates, British duo Jake Dennis (Fortec Motorsports) and Oliver Rowland (Manor MP Motorsport), Colombian racer Oscar Tunjo (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and the French pair Pierre Gasly (Tech 1 Racing) and William Vermont (ARTA Engineering) are all aiming to score big in Belgium.
In the absence of a Dutch leg, Spa is the next best thing to a home meeting for Steijn Schothorst (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Nyck de Vries (Koiranen GP), while Luca Ghiotto (Prema Powerteam) will hope to maintain his fine form after scoring an excellent win in the Formula Renault 2.0 Pau Trophy a few days ago.
The 42-car field features a number of wildcards, among them current Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS leader Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) of Italy.
Eurocup Megane Trophy: An all-Italian duel
Mirko Bortolotti (Oregon Team) may have dominated proceedings at Motorland Aragon, scoring a maximum 50 points, but team-mate and compatriot Kevin Gilardoni (Oregon Team) did enough to suggest the championship leader will not have things all his own way.
Third in last season’s Eurocup Megane Trophy without recording a single victory, the 21-year-old has high hopes of finally taking a deserved race win at Spa-Francorchamps.
Kelvin Snoeks, another Oregon Team man, also performed well in Spain, though the Italian outfit will need to keep a close eye on the Dutch contingent headed by Jeroen Schothorst and Mike Verschuur (McGregor by Equipe Verschuur) and the young Max Braams (Las Moras by Equipe Verschuur).
Czech drivers Erik Janis and Jakub Knoll (Gravity Charouz) are also ones to watch, and the challenge posed by France’s Team Lompech Sport has been bolstered by the arrival of Steven Palette alongside Jean-Charles Miginiac.
Eurocup Clio: Pedala and Files out for more
After a successful first get-together at Imola, Eurocup Clio joins the World Series by Renault circuit at Spa-Francorchamps.
Breaking away from the pack in Italy were British driver Josh Files (Team Pyro) and Italian racer Massimiliano Pedala (Composit Motorsport), who edged out their rivals to notch a win apiece. Third in race two at Imola, Denmark’s Thomas Fjordbach (Polar Seafood Racing) also showed his ability to adapt quickly to the Nouvelle Clio Cup and its 1.6 turbo engine.
Third in the points after his second place in race one, Nicolas Milan will not be appearing at Spa, with defending champion Oscar Nogues (RMS Engineering) determined to make up for his blank weekend at Imola, where he failed to score a point.
There are two home drivers in the large 38-man field, with Sami Luka (Milan Competition) and Stephane Lemeret (Team Lompech Sport) both anxious to impress the home fans.
Follow the meeting in the stands or on TV
Free tickets to the meeting are still available to download at www.worldseriesbyrenault.com.
Both Formula Renault 3.5 Series races at Spa-Francorchamps will be broadcast pre-recorded on Sunday 2 June on Eurosport (at 8:30 and 22:30) and on Eurosport France (8:30 and 23:30).