With defending Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion and Renault Sport Academy driver Jack Aitken looking on, Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing) turned in the fastest lap on day one of collective testing at Circuit Paul Ricard. With a time of 2:03.641, the Sahara Force India Academy protégé ended the domination of Max Defourny (R-ace GP), third this Friday. Rookie Lando Norris, (Josef Kaufmann Racing) sandwiched between the two, to lead from fellow newcomers Gabriel Aubry (Tech 1 Racing) and Will Palmer (R-ace GP).
The 25 drivers in action last week at Motorland Aragón were joined by Finlay Hutchinson (Hutchinson Racing) and Ghislain Cordeel (GMMA Formula Racing). The day’s programme consisted of four 52-minute sessions
Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing) set the pace in the opening session with a lap of 2:06.013, before rookie Lando Norris stopped the clock in 2:04.226. After a light shower during the mid-day lunch break, Darius Oskoui (AVF by Adrián Vallés) dominated session three, but stayed shy off the reference time from the British driver, which was bettered by his team mate Jehan Daruvala with the day’s best time of 2:03.641 in the final hour.
Daruvala from Norris and Defourny
“As I struggled during my last visit to Circuit Paul Ricard, I did my homework ahead of these tests. I am really satisfied with how the day went. My relationship with Josef Kaufmann Racing has been fantastic since we first met at Jerez last year. The car felt good and we were consistently in the top three. This morning, Lando was a bit faster, but I took a look at the data and put the three sectors together to be able to beat him. He is a great team-mate and as long as we learn from each other, it should be a good year for us. Following a winter where I trained to lose a few kilograms and some strong preparation in New Zealand, I am confident for the season. The pace is good and I will probably have to beat the same guy to win so I will give it everything I’ve got to achieve that.”
Aubry among the front running rookies
“I was a little apprehensive at the start of the day after the difficult tests I had on this track the last time I was here. There is still more work to do to make up the gap to Norris but I am pleased with the result. We will continue tomorrow in order to prepare as best we can for the meeting here in August. After the accumulation of tests at the end of the year, I focused on getting fit over the winter with my coach and I am coming back from a week of preparation with the entire team at Font-Romeu. The objective now is to finish in the top three among the rookies and to be consistent in all the races. To run in the top five and race for podiums would be a nice touch. "
Jack Aitken, VIP guest
“To be back with the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and not be part of the field is both great and strange. Some familiar faces are back and it’s great to share our experiences, even if I can’t divulge too many secrets ! Being here also gives me the chance to see how the new guys are getting on with their new car, which is the perfect one to learn driving fundamentals. This is the start of the season, everyone is motivated and the season should be extremely competitive ! The race for the title is always extremely tough in this category. This year will not be an exception with such talented drivers.”