Renault Sport Trophy – 2015 Season Preview
Renault Sport Trophy, completely new racing series which is part of the World Series by Renault, will start next weekend at Spa-Frankorchamps circuit. Eighteen months after the birth of the project and one season after Renault Megane V6 Trophy was extinct, new one-make series is ready to rumble.
In previous competition racing car was based on sporty version of road car, but for new competition Renault Sport Technology developed completely new car – Renault Sport R.S. 01. It’s a truly racing car, between GT cars and LMP2 prototypes, with stunning design and roaring sound, which is using Nissan’s 3.8-litre V6 with 550 hp.
Six teams with 26 drivers took part at pre-season three day collective test at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo. Oregon Team (Italy), ART GP Junior Team (France), Equipe Verschuur (Netherlands), V8 Racing Team (Netherlands), Zele Racing (Austria) and Monlau Competicion (Spain) are renown teams from various competitions, some of them were part of previous Renault Trophys.
List of drivers are combination of perspective youngsters and experienced gentlemen. In RST they are divided in two categories – Elite drivers and Prestige drivers.
Six Renault Sport Trophy events are planned for first season. Two weeks after Spa scheduled are Hungaroring, then three events in September (Silverstone, Nurburgring, Le Mans) and final event in October at Jerez. Every event is consist of three race: first 70-minutes race and two 25-minutes races.
Alongside the prize money for the best drivers and teams in each round, Renault Sport Technologies and its partners will be providing particularly attractive end-of-season rewards. The overall champion will have the chance to follow a complete development program prior to taking a rookie test with the official Nismo team for the Super GT in Japan. A similarly attractive reward will be provided for Prestige champion, who will have the chance to take part in the 2016 Le Mans 24-hour event driving an LMP2 prototype.
At the test at Valencia Vittorio Ghirelli (Zele Racing), Indy Dontje (ART Junior Team) and Steijn Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) set the best lap times among 26 drivers, but it’s hard to say are they a favourites, because gaps are small and racing is something different than testing.
Steijn Schothorst: “Having a roof over your head is radically different. I am used to open-wheel cars, and it is hard to feel the speed! The goal this year will be to have a good time with my father Jeroan, who is sharing my car, and to score as many points as possible.”
Bas Schothorst: “I find that the Renault Sport R.S. 01 delivers driving sensations worthy of an LMP2 prototype. It is really exciting to drive, especially with the late braking. The overall package is impressive and the balance is perfect. This race car will create super races, especially as there will be many young open-wheel talents on the grid.”
Dario Capitanio: “With the two sprint races and endurance race format, I still must find the right feeling between the new and used tyres. It is somewhat delicate, but we have to more days for that, as well as finding a compromise with my team mate’s driving style. The performance can wait, what is essential is to be in harmony with the Renault Sport R.S. 01. It is a really fun car, with excellent braking and enormous grip in the corners. Step by step, I am finding mine and its limits, and it will be important to win the championship.”
Andrea Pizzitola: “I have a good feeling with the car. It is very nice to drive. The most impressive points are speed in the corners, aerodynamic downforce, stopping power and the very efficient ABS. The races are psychologically draining and you have to be completely focused to put in consistent times. The objective is clearly the title, I have the team to do it with and I feel I can do it although there are some very strong competitors we’ll have to beat!”
Luciano Bacheta : “The Renault Sport R.S. 01 is different from what I have raced before: Formula Renault 2.0, F2 and LMP2. It is a new step and I am adapting to a new driving style, while also preparing for Spa in the best possible way. It is a big car, but it handles like it is a lot smaller. I am still amazed to see at what extent we can brake late. The cornering speeds are stunning and despite the weight transfer, we have a tremendous amount of grip. The goal this year will be to win, but the team and I will be up against a very strong field, which is always the case in the World Series by Renault.”
Max Braams: “We had a good test at Valencia. It is a new car, very different from my Mégane Trophy from two years ago. For someone like me who has never driven an open-wheel car, the downforce is really impressive and this is my first experience with carbon-fiber brakes. It is just crazy how late we can brake. I love it; it is exciting and challenging. I have a lot of work to do to further improve my times. The objective is to be a half-second off the pole before aiming for the podium at the end of the season. We’ll see how we do at Spa, a track I like.”