Spa: Round five preview

Hard up the Raidillon! After the early season excursion to Monaco, the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 wanders outside of the scope of the World Series by Renault meetings again this weekend. This time, the WSR3.5 field heads for the legendary...

Hard up the Raidillon!

After the early season excursion to Monaco, the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 wanders outside of the scope of the World Series by Renault meetings again this weekend. This time, the WSR3.5 field heads for the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and the renowned Raidillon hill, for two support races to the Spa 24-hour endurance race! Far from being narrowed down in Misano, the list of potential successors to Robert Kubica appears, if anything, to have grown longer! After Vettel's flawless performance in Italy, whose turn will it be in Spa?

Called up to replace Colin Fleming at Carlin Motorsport, Sebastian Vettel was in impressive form in Misano. A pole position, two wins and 31 points were collected by the young German, who went straight to sixth place in the championship! After taking second spot in this weekend's F3 Euro Series race at the Norisring, Vettel is back in the cockpit of the Formula Renault 3.5 at Spa. Another two good results would make him a serious contender for the title, which would give him a dilemma as to where to race the following weekend: World Series at the Nurburgring or Masters F3 in Zandvoort?

After finishing third and fourth in the Misano races, Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering) bagged some precious points. Enough, in fact, to take the championship lead! The reigning British F3 champion is now six and seven points ahead of his Spanish rivals, Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) and Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com). Garcia, the leader going into Misano, never really seemed at ease on the Italian track. But he still managed to collect some points, with a fourth place. On the other hand, 'Speedy' Soucek scored heavily with two good points finishes, allowing him to move up among the championship leaders, as he had hoped.

In contrast to these drivers, the weekend provided little to get excited about for Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA), Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com) and James Rossiter (Pons Racing). The three men nonetheless collected some points and are not out of reach of the championship lead thanks to the efforts of Vettel, who prevented Soucek and Parente from scoring maximum points!

Ben Hanley (Cram Competition) and Davide Valsecchi's (Epsilon Euskadi) top-three finishes moved them nearer to the leaders. Their consistent progress means that they too are now potential overall winners. The same could be said of Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing), who has yet to turn his free practice form into race results.

The more inconsistent Christian Montanari (Prema Powerteam) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) might also spring a surprise. The situation is more worrying for Patrick Pilet (GD Racing) and Enrico Toccacelo (Eurointernational), whose results so far this year have failed to meet their expectations!

Two Belgian drivers are taking part, hoping to do well in front of their home crowd. After a podium finish in Monaco, Liege-born driver Greg Franchi (Prema Powerteam) is looking to be in the points again. He only just missed out on the top ten in Misano... Meanwhile, JerÃ'me d'Ambrosio continues to build up experience at Tech 1 Racing. For the moment, his best result is 12th. In other words, he has already come close to opening his account -- perhaps Spa will be the place! A few hours after finishing the WSR race, JerÃ'me will take part in the 24-hour race in a Gillet Vertigo, alongside Bas Leinders and Renaud Kuppens.

Another 24-hour race competitor, Kurt Mollekens, will combine driving a Corvette in the race with keeping a close eye on the performance of his KTR team. British driver Robbie Kerr and the Canadian Sean McIntosh have shown off some good driving skills since the start of the season, but are still looking for the first 2006 podium finish for the team from Keerbergen! Who's to say they won't find it in Spa?

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Robbie Kerr , Colin Fleming , Eric Salignon , Christian Montanari , James Rossiter , Sean McIntosh , Alvaro Parente , Bas Leinders , Kurt Mollekens , Pastor Maldonado , Sebastian Vettel , Borja Garcia , Patrick Pilet , Davide Valsecchi , Andy Soucek , Ben Hanley
Teams Carlin