Following a highly successful maiden campaign, the Renault Sport Trophy kicks off season two this weekend at Motorland Aragón. 28 drivers will be on hand at the Spanish circuit to try to join Andrea Pizzitola, Dario Capitanio and David Fumanelli in the sport’s record book. And you would need a crstal ball to see who will win in the opening three races of the year ; that is how close the gaps were during winter testing ! The field will be also welcome a special guest, Renault Sport brand ambassasdor, Carmen Jorda.
With its ultra-competitive field and top-end performance, the Renault Sport Trophy demonstrated why it is so attractive in its inaugural season. A status confirmed by its unique prize scheme : the winner in the Pro category will receive a complete preparation programme before participating in the driver selection test organised by the official Super GT NISMO team. If he is not chosen, he will receive a cash prize of €200,000. The AM champion will win a ride in LM P2 for the 24-Hours of Le Mans or if he prefers a cash prize of €140,000 to move up to the Renault Sport Trophy PRO category in 2017.
Carmen Jorda completes the field in the opening meeting of 2016. Teamed with two-time class winner of the 24-Hours of Dubai Jordan Grogor in the V8 Racing #6, the Renault Sport brand ambassador will return to competition while discovering the Renault Sport R.S. 01 on the Motorland Aragón circuit. This will be a true challenge on one of the most technical layouts on the schedule where the Spanish driver can nevertheless rely on her varied experience.
Who will follow Andrea Pizzitola ?
After taking Andrea Pizzitola to the title, R-ace GP came up big over the winter, signing Raoul Owens (R-ace GP #2) and, 2010 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion, Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP #3) to defend its chance in PRO. The team set best time during the final day of testing at Estoril.
Among their rivals, the Frenchman will find some familiar faces. At Equipe Verschuur ; Pieter Schothorst will take over from his cousin Steign in the #21. The Dutch driver will be a serious contender following his win at Silverstone last year in his first outing in the Renault Sport Trophy. The team has Roy Geerts (Equipe Verschuur #19) in the second PRO ride. The winner of the 2013 Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Junior will be tough to beat with his year of experience in the category.
Third in the Elite category in 2015, David Fumanelli (Oregon Team #5) will try to do better with the Italian squad. He will be joined by, former race winner in Formula Renault 2.0, Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team #4), and Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #1), who will race for the PRO title a year after taking top honours in Prestige.
Victorious in the 12-Hours of Italy-Mugello with a Renault Sport R.S 01 in GT3 spec., V8 Racing will be worth keeping an eye on despite their absence during winter testing. In addition to the duo of Carmen Jordan – Jordan Grogor, the team will also line-up, sixth place last year, Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing #7), and Meindert van Buuren who comes over from the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Three teams join the Renault family in 2017 and none of them come to just make up the numbers. Champions several times in GT, Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 is making a new start in motor racing thanks to the technical support of Monlau Competición. Often front-runner during testing with veteran Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9) and newcomer, Tanart Sathienthirakul (Team Marc VDS EG 0, 0 #15), the team has the means to be a contender straight away.
At Strakka Racing for his return to competition, Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing #42) too made a strong impression in posting best time on the final day of the collective tests at Motorland Aragón last month. Denmark’s High Class Racing has been more discreet but can rely on its experience in the Blancpain Endurance Series to create a surprise with Anders Fjordbach (High Class Racing #11).
It is wide-open in AM
With the departure of Dario Capitanio to the PRO category, the fight for his crown is wide-open. Fifth in points last year, Max Braams (V8 Racing #8) will be among the favourites. The Dutchman will have to watch out for the likes of Toni Forné (R-ace GP #2), Andrés Méndez (Oregon Team #4), Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur #19) and Jeroen Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #21), all of whom have a year of experience under their belts.
Nevertheless, like in the PRO category, the newcomers seriously increase the level needed to be a winner. Strakka Racing puts its confidence in Tim Sugden to share the Renault Sport R.S. 01 #42 with Lewis Williamson. Fourth in the 1998 24-Hours of Le Mans, a star in British GT and champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the Englishman will be another to watch closely.
It will be the same story for young Fran Rueda (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #15), who from time to time mixed it up with the best of the PROs during the collective tests. Davide Roda (Oregon Team #1) will bring experienced gained in GT and the Blancpain Series and Dennis Andersen (High Class Racing #11) could surprise as could Fredrik Blomstedt (R-ace GP #3), who won the Euro Series by Nova Race last year, Ash Hand (Oregon Team #5), runner-up in the 2015 Clio Cup UK, Fabian Schiller (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0 #9), who has come over from F3, and Jelle Bellen (V8 Racing #7), winner of his class in the 2015 GT4 European Series.
Friday 15 April 2016
11h45 – 13h15 Collective test 1
16h30 – 18h00 Collective test 2
Saturday 16 April 2016
9h00 – 9h20 Qualifying AM
11h45 – 12h05 Qualifying PRO
15h50 – 17h02 Endurance Race
Sunday 17 April 2016
10h45 – 11h12 Sprint Race AM
15h15 – 15h42 Sprint Race PRO