The first times have been set at the Moscow Raceway, with Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport), the top two in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 standings, showing their class from the off on Friday. Fastest in each of the day’s two collective testing sessions, Vandoorne is aiming to stop Kvyat shining on home turf, although the Russian knows full well his fans are expecting big things from him over the next two days.
The honour of setting the first times at the Moscow Raceway went to the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 field on Friday morning, as the 35 drivers ventured out on to a totally new track that was damp in parts. Making their debuts in the category were Russian drivers Konstantin Tereschenko (Epic Racing) and Roman Beregech (Atech Reid).
The opening ten minutes of testing saw a series of fastest times being posted, with Stefan Wackerbauer (Koiranen Motorsport) and Vandoorne both showing strongly. The German driver, a Red Bull Junior Team member, set the early pace with a lap of 1:43.242, just before a shower swept its way across the Moscow Raceway.
It was not until the track dried at the end of the session that the position at the top of the timesheets changed. Vandoorne brought the benchmark time down on several occasions before eventually clocking a lap of 1:38.874, the quickest of the session. Kvyat also got the measure of his home track to take second ahead of Wackerbauer, Oscar Tunjo (Tech 1 Racing) and Patrick Kujala (Koiranen Motorsport).
The pace picked up in the afternoon, which had begun with the field practising a race start. Wackerbauer was the first to dip under Vandoorne’s morning time, though the Belgian hit back almost immediately with a time of 1:37.440, becoming the first Formula Renault 2.0 driver to better the 1:38 mark at the Moscow Raceway.
Vandoorne did not finish there, raising the bar even higher with a lap of 1:36.351. Picking up the gauntlet immediately, Kvyat went fastest in 1:36.262, though the last laugh went to the championship leader, who showed his authority by recording the quickest lap of the day in 1:35.559. Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), Patrick Kujala (Koiranen Motorsport) and Alex Riberas (Josef Kaufmann Racing) rounded off the top five.
What they said:
Stoffel Vandoorne: “The track doesn’t offer that much grip at the moment, but we’re the first out there so you’d expect that. I was expecting a faster track but it’s turned out to be very technical, with a lot of turns in second and third gear. It’s a slow circuit where the slightest error can take you off line for the next two or three turns.”
Daniil Kvyat: “It’s a strange weekend for me because this is the first time I’ve ever driven in my country. I’m not thinking about that right now, though, and we’re working just as we would at any other circuit. Even so, I’ve seen that a lot of people are behind me and that there’s a lot of expectation. We’ve got some good pace going and I like the track. The races should be interesting”
Mikko Pakari: “This track really reminds me of a karting circuit. There’s no dead time and you really have to push the car. All the tracks are new for me this season so I’m getting used to coming across new layouts. The only difference is the change in grip. There wasn’t any this morning, and it was a whole lot better in the second session.”