After a year’s absence, MP Motorsport returned to the Formula Renault Eurocup. The team that led Jordan King and Oliver Rowland to second place in the NEC championship and in the Eurocup now have three drivers supported by Junior F1 Teams. We got an initial assessment with Team Manager, Sander Dorsman.
At the end of its return season, MP Motorsport’s saw Richard Verschoor enter the top ten in the general classification. With his first podium at the end of the season, the Dutchman finished ahead of fellow Red Bull Junior Team member Neil Verhagen. Meanwhile Renault Sport Academy driver, Jarmo Opmeer also finished his season in style, taking his first top five finish at Barcelona. This progress saw MP Motorsport finish fourth in the Team Classification. Have they met their start of season goals ?
The reasons for the return
“The attractive new Formula Renault Eurocup format is the reason why we returned”, confided MP Motorsport Team Manager, Sander Dorsman at the start of the season. “The category is still the ideal training ground for ambitious drivers. Last year, we saw how well Richard and Jarno were doing in the SMP F4 NEZ ! They were spotted respectively by the Red Bull Junior Team and Renault Sport Academy. In parallel, Neil also joined the Red Bull program to make his European debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup. This also underscores how big their potentials are.”
Excessive pressure ?
With three rookies supported by F1 young driver programs, do Sander Dorsman’s men feel more pressure ?
“Honestly, I think the situation isn’t much different from other cases”, assures the MP Motorsport Team Manager. “We would take the same approach with any other driver. For example, we send reports to specific people, but that changes little in comparison to our traditional post-session or race debriefings."
“Therefore, I haven’t seen any additional pressure !”, he continued. “However, this obviously makes a difference for the drivers. They practically have no choice but to succeed. The backing they get from these teams is fantastic and priceless. They receive invaluable support away from the track with specific training regiments and simulator sessions. Now it is up to them to make the most of these assets ! "
Three rookies enrolled in the school of champions
After the end of the season, Sander Dorsman gave his first observations of his protégés.
“There were not too many surprises", he affirms. “The Formula Renault Eurocup is still just as competitive and our main challenge this season was to grow with three rookies, while some others are in their second year, even their third. This gives them an advantage when it comes to experience, even more so when they are in the same team !”
MP Moorsport scored points in the first race of the season at Monza with Richard Verschoor. The next day, Neil Verhagen finished just off the podium to take his first win in the rookie class.
Richard Verschoor then finished regularly in the top ten before a difficult month of July, when Jarno Opmeer scored his first points of the season and Neil Verhagen claimed his maiden podium at the Hungaroring. The American then took his second win in the rookie category at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. Meanwhile, the two Red Bull Junior Team drivers each won for the first time in the Formula Renault NEC at Assen in early August.
Following the summer pause in the action, MP Motorsport and its drivers picked up the pace at the final three weekends with the Dutch outfit placing at least two of its cars in the points in each race. Richard Verschoor even swept the rookie class honours in Barcelona, while Jarno Opmeer and Neil Verhagen finishing ahead of more experienced outsiders.
“These campaigns were typical of learning years”, explained Sander Dorsman. “For exemple, it was a surprise to see Neil on the podium in Hungary, considering he never drove there before. In parallel, Richard was in a good position, but an incident prevented him from a strong result and shining as he could have done.”
“After the summer break, they gradually reached their objective of demonstrating their progress made throughout the year All three largely elevated their game. We saw things come together as we scored points 11 times in the last seven meetings, but also 17 times in the final three meetings that were run on technical tracks like Circuit Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps and Barcelona ! This shows we managed to provide them a maximum of experience and information to absorb so that they can compete for the top five should they come back next year."