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Formula Renault 2.0

Continuing their preparations for the season ahead, the drivers set to contest the 2012 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship stepped up the pace in two days of collective testing at Catalunya. After getting a feel for the track, the field got down to the job of posting times, each looking to gain a psychological hold ahead of a season that promises much. Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsport) laid down the gauntlet by setting not one but two lap records, only for Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) to eclipse him with a fastest time of 1:42.606.

As the season’s maiden collective testing sessions at Paul Ricard a few days ago showed, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 class of 2012 lacks nothing in quality and should serve up a battle royal for the title. While Vandoorne and Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) were the pacesetters in the south of France, Formula Renault UK 2011 runner-up Rowland used the two-day testing get-together in Barcelona to show what he can do.

Third in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 last season and the runner-up in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Kvyat picked up where he left off at Paul Ricard by posting a time of 1:43.400 one hour into Monday’s opening session, just a fraction off Carlos Sainz Jr’s FR 2.0 lap record of 1:43.299, set last year. Keeping him company at the top of the timesheets were Jordan King (Manor MP Motorsport) and Alex Riberas (Josef Kaufmann Racing).

The Russian’s time remained unbeaten in the morning, and it was not until the new tyres appeared right at the end of the afternoon that the pace picked up. Vandoorne was the first to go closer to Sainz Jr’s mark with a time of 1:43.360, which was soon bettered by Rowland, the British driver ending day one ahead of Kvyat, Vandoorne, Melville McKee (Interwetten.com Junior Team) and King, with 21 drivers recording times within a single second of each other, in the 1:44s.

The sun shone down on Tuesday morning as battle was rejoined. Rowland was quick out of the blocks again, slicing time off his Monday mark before Vandoorne and Kvyat trumped it, all three men dipping under 1:43, with the Dutchman leading the way from Kvyat and Rowland. Norman Nato (RC Formula) joined the club in recording the fourth-fastest time of the day.

The afternoon’s proceedings got off to a slow start as some teams began packing up in preparation for Monza and the first leg of the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS season, while others got down to some race simulations. And though several cars went out in the last of the new tyres at the end of the day, there would be no more changes on the timesheets, with Pierre Gasly (R-Ace Grand Prix) setting the afternoon’s fastest lap ahead of Nato, leaving Vandoorne’s Tuesday-morning time of 1:42.606 the best of the two-day gathering. The next round of collective testing in the category will take place at Motorland Aragon on 16-17 April.

What they said:

Stoffel Vandoorne: “We made the most of a very fast track this morning. I got out in good conditions and got a fast lap in, with everything working perfectly. As well as a better time, I was also pleased to see us fighting for first place again here, just as we did at Paul Ricard. That shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Oliver Rowland: “This is my first time here so I’m pretty pleased with our performance. We did a lot of work on used tyres and then we did what we had to do on new ones. I've got my mind on just one thing this year and that's winning the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. It won’t be easy because I’m up against quite a few drivers with experience at this level, like Daniil Kvyat and Stoffel Vandoorne. I’m ready though.”

Alex Albon (Epic Racing): “Last November was the first time I’d ever sat in a single-seater and my aim in my first season at this level is to learn. I’m picking a lot of new things up in every session. The times were incredibly tight and you can move up several places just by shaving a hundredth off. I don’t feel extra pressure just because I’m a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, anything but. The set-up here means you can really develop fast as long as you meet your objectives and put in plenty of work.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release

Posted: 20 March 2012
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