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Eurocup Clio

Two points are all that separate Marc Guillot (Milan Competition), Oscar Nogues (Rangoni Motorsport) and Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur) at the top of the overall standings, and there was precious little to choose between the title contenders in Friday’s collective testing. The trio used the day’s two sessions to finalise their preparations for qualifying, allowing Simone di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport) to go fastest in the morning and Stephan Polderman (Madeno Racing) to take the afternoon honours.

Thirty-two Clio Cup drivers will be taking their places on the grid at Catalunya for what promises to be an explosive end to the 2012 season. As well as the usual Eurocup Clio faces, some ten racers have been handed wild cards for the weekend, among them France’s Jean-Philippe Lamic (Vic’Team) and Spain’s Rakel Morera (Milan Competition), both ones to watch.

Shrugging off the morning rain, Christian Ricciarini (Composit Motorsport) and Simone di Luca made their experience count straightaway, Di Luca posting an early benchmark time of 2:29.418 to lead the field from his fellow Italian.

The positions would remain unchanged in a session interrupted by several red flags, with Rakel Morera and Francois Bernard (FB Racing) two of the drivers to go off. Completing the morning’s top three behind the two Italians was Oscar Nogues (Rangoni Motorsport).

A dry track greeted the drivers in the afternoon, which began with the championship contenders showing what they could do. Mike Verschuur set the early pace, which was then taken up by Christian Ricciarini and Simone di Luca before Oscar Nogues strung together two fast laps to hit the front with a time of 2:07.625.

Stephan Polderman had a surprise up his sleeve, however, bettering everyone with a flying lap of 2:07.357, relegating Oscar Nogues to second place and Jordi Palomeras (Milan Competition) to third, while Mike Verschuur and Marc Guillot ended a solid day’s preparations fourth and seventh on the timesheets respectively.

What they said:

Oscar Nogues: “I wasn’t that happy after the session in the rain, but the car performed a lot better in the dry. I think we’ll be competitive in the race because we’ve been consistent all the way through. Fighting for the title on home soil is a double-edged sword. Home drivers haven’t had much luck all season, especially at Paul Ricard, though it would be amazing to win the title here.”

Mike Verschuur: “It’s really exciting that it’s all come down to the final meeting with three drivers in contention. The three of us are level pegging and the collective testing sessions have shown that we’re all in the mix. Rain is forecast and I love wet conditions, though I’ll need to get it right in qualifying and set a time pretty quickly because there were a lot of red flags today. My only aim is to go out and win.”

Marc Guillot: “Winning the Clio Cup France last week was a relief. I honestly feel less stressed about this weekend than I did about the end of the French season. The equation’s a simple one here: I’ve just got to finish in front of Oscar Nogues and Mike Verschuur. They’ve both looked quick here, especially Oscar, though I’m not getting hung up about it because they’re both beatable. The qualifying sessions are going to decide 70 percent of the title. Miss your chance in qualifying and it makes it very hard for the race.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 19 October 2012
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