The Renault Sport Trophy was back in action on this Wednesday at Circuito Estoril for the opening day of the final pre-season collective tests. The team of Pieter and Jeroen Schothorst in the Equipe Verschuur #21 Renault R.S. 01 set best time of the day in 1:35.879 on the Portuguese track. The Dutch duo was followed by Kevin Korjus and Fredrik Blomstedt (ART Junior Team #3) and the Italian tandem of David Fumanelli and Davide Roda (Oregon Team #5). In the morning session, Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS Racing EG 0,0 #9) topped the time sheet.
Some new faces were on hand since the last time out at Motorland Aragón with Ash Hand in the Oregon Team #1, Toni Forné in the R-ace GP #2, David Fumanelli and Davide Roda in the Oregon Team #5 as well as Roy Geerts and Miguel Ramos in the #19 Équipe Verschuur car.
Pieter Schothorst led the way for most of the first session until Markus Palttala clocked a best time of 1:36.359 as the final hour of the morning runs began. At the conclusion of the session the Finn led from Raoul Owens (R-ace GP #2) by 0.056s. Pieter Schothorst completed the top three.
In the first hour of the afternoon session, Pieter Schothorst lowered the benchmark time to 1:35.879. The tandem of Kevin Korjus and Fredrik Blomstedt and the pairing of David Fumanelli and Davide Roda closed the gap to the Dutchman, but then the rain and wind came in the final 60 minutes, which froze the positions in place.
Pieter Schothorst fastest
“Everything was going perfectly before the rain came ! After a morning getting used to the circuit and the car, we had to switch to new tyres very early in the afternoon following some mistakes. It wasn’t the best timing as the track improves on each lap, but we did put in a very fast lap. We could have done better, but we were leading and that is where we want to be. Steijn’s help is as precious with the data as his experience from last year. I hope to do even a little bit better than him in his place !”
Fumanelli in the top three on his return
“To be among the top three is a little unexpected. I received a call yesterday and I only just got here this morning. It was a bit strange, but it is good to be back ! I had not driven a Renault Sport R.S. 01 since last October. I had to get back into the rhythm on this very technical and bumpy track. We worked as much on the car as my driving in order to put in a good development programme. I think we did a good job, although I wasn’t able to get the most out of our potential due to a few mistakes. Now we have to see how we can put a programme together for the season, but I am remaining positive about the future !”
Martijn Bros (Team Manager, Equipe Verschuur) : “We are expecting a superb season”
“We finished the day on top. This corresponds to our objectives, but we know that it will be tough with so many strong drivers. We are expecting a superb season. Pieter is just as good as Steijn, except that with Steijn it is instinctive whereas Pieter thinks more. We already saw Pieter in action with the Renault Sport R.S. 01 and he was a winner. Roy Geerts will be with us in the other car. He hasn’t driven at all since his accident at Le Mans last year and he needed to re-learn everything today. He had some strong runs with V8 Racing last year and if he can work efficiently with Pieter, both could improve and take the team to a higher level !”