By winning the first two races of the season in an all-conquering weekend at Motorland Aragón, Bas Schothorst (TDS Racing) gave a hint that 2012 may just be his year. At Spa-Francorchamps, a legendary circuit ideally suited to the Megane Trophy, the Dutchman will be determined to maintain his winning start. The Oregon Team drivers, however, are sure to have other ideas. Albert Costa and Niccolo Nalio are currently level on points in second place, and the pair will be going all out to spoil Schothorst’s plans.
Bas Schothorst has enjoyed a start to the season similar to Stefano Comini, who recorded 11 victories on his way to being crowned Eurocup Megane Trophy champion in 2011. Schothorst did not have as much success as he would have liked last year, but the TDS Racing man has regained the winning touch and now looks every inch the championship leader. The Dutchman’s double victory will have given him a much-needed shot of confidence, which is a vital ingredient in any title challenge.
Spa-Francorchamps may be close to Schothorst’s native Netherlands, but the circuit has not exactly been a home-from-home for him in the Eurocup Megane Trophy in recent years. A victory in Belgium this year, on a famously challenging circuit where success always tastes particularly sweet, would no doubt come as a welcome change of fortunes for the Dutchman.
At this stage, Albert Costa and Niccolo Nalio appear best equipped to halt Schothorst’s charge. The Oregon Team duo are currently level on points with each other, and will be eager to get a win on the board as quickly as possible. For Nalio, championship runner-up in 2011 with two wins and seven podium finishes, a victory would confirm the potential he showed last season. And it would certainly do the Italian’s ambitions for success this year no harm.
Costa, meanwhile, is still new to the discipline. But the Spaniard, who won the 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and achieved respective fifth and fourth places in the 2010 and 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, has wasted no time in getting the measure of Renault Sport Technologies’ high-performance saloon. Costa already has a pole position and two podiums to his name, and he will be keen to add a liberating first victory to his tally. He will no doubt look to take full advantage at Spa, a circuit that rewards bold driving.
Fabien Thuner (Oregon Team) is another one to watch, but the main focus of attention will be on David Dermont (Team Lompech Sport). The local favourite knows he has the ability to win the race in front of his home crowd and make the Belgian national anthem ring out, as he did at the Nürburgring in 2008 in his only Eurocup Megane Trophy victory to date.
The Eurocup Megane Trophy’s debutants, meanwhile, gave excellent accounts of themselves at Motorland Aragón. Kevin Gilardoni (Oregon Team), sixth in the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, has already come close to a podium finish, as has Kelvin Snoeks (TDS Racing), 10th in the Formula 2 Championship in 2011. Nicolas Milan, in his first season of rear-wheel-drive racing, is also learning fast and is creeping ever closer to the leaders. Make no mistake: each of these drivers is capable of causing an upset.
In the Gentlemen Drivers’ category, Jean-Charles Miginiac (Team Lompech Sport) and Toni Forné (Pujolaracing) share top spot with 43 points each. Close behind the pair are Oliver Freymuth (AFK Motorsport), Michael Munemann (Algarve Pro Racing Team). Jeroen Schothorst (TDS Racing), for his part, needs to secure a big points haul after retiring from the first two races of the season.