Last year’s winner in the Principality, Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) set the pace in the one collective test for the Formula Renault Eurocup in the streets of Monaco. With a lap of 1:31.583, the Frenchman led the way ahead of Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports) and the leader in the general classification, Robert Shwartzman (R-ace GP). Renault Sport Academy driver Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) was eighth and the top rookie.
At 8:15, the Formula Renaults set off between the guard rails for 45 minutes of preparation before Friday qualifying.
First on track, Robert Shwartzman set the early pace, but the times continued to improve just until Sacha Fenestraz took over after the first 15 minutes. The French driver kept improving, while his rivals returned to the pits to change set-ups and switch to fresh Michelin tyres.
With eight minutes remaining, Will Palmer (R-ace GP) kicked-off the final sprint. Henrique Chaves (AVF by Adrián Vallés) and Robert Shwartzman fought for best time, but Sacha Fenestraz lowered the bar even further before the session came to a prematurely stopped by Presley Martono (Mark Burdett Motorsport), who stopped at Beau Rivage.
With his lap of 1:31.583, Sacha Fenestraz was 0.6s quicker than Alex Peroni and Robert Shwartzman. Will Palmer and Henrique Chaves complete the top five ahead of Max Defourny (R-ace GP), Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing) and rookies Jarno Opmeer, Yifei Ye (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Daniel Ticktum (Arden Motorsport).
Friday qualifying for the Formula Renault Eurocup will get underway at 7:55.
Sacha Fenestraz (Josef Kaufmann Racing) : “As I already know the circuit, I felt good from the start of the session. I wasn’t totally comfortable, but we made a few changes to improve. The goal today was above all else avoid the guard rails in order to find my marks and gradually reach my limits. The red flag interrupted this process, but I am still pleased. The team did a great job, but in contrast to Pau, we have to make pole happen tomorrow. It is up to us to do our best to be upfront at the most important time !”
As I already know the circuit, I felt good from the start of the session. I wasn’t totally comfortable, but we made a few changes to improve. The goal today was above all else avoid the guard rails in order to find my marks and gradually reach my limits.
Alex Peroni (Fortec Motorsports) : “I learned a lot this morning. As we were first on the circuit, the tack was very dirty and it was all about avoiding the guard rails and learning as fast as possible. We were quickly up to speed on new tyres, but we only had one or two clear laps due to traffic. I am not worried about the gap to Sacha Fenestraz, but we must improve. My win at Pau has lifted a little weight from my shoulders, but now we want more ! That is the goal this weekend.”
Jarno Opmeer (MP Motorsport) : “It is special to race alongside F1. There is a big crowd and we try to give it our all like at every race. I think I had a good session. The gap to the leader is more than a second, but we were starting to get closer before the red flag. Monaco seems to be a little easier than Pau. The track is wider, but this circuit offers up other challenges. After a start to the season where I made some mistakes, I hope to be able to reverse the trend beginning this weekend and we must maintain the pace in order to do that.”
Presley Martono (Mark Burdett Motorsport) : “You need a lot of confidence for this track. I was going faster and faster and I was attacking more as I put in the laps, but I got some ‘dirty air’ behind another car. I lost control and tapped the guard rail. I just need to put in more and more laps to continue to improve and gain confidence. Qualifying should go a lot better.”