Zolder: Round one preview

An exceptional line-up! The second season of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 gets underway on April 29-30 at the Belgian circuit of Zolder. After Robert Kubica's victory in 2005, the World Series by Renault's flagship category features an...

An exceptional line-up!

The second season of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 gets underway on April 29-30 at the Belgian circuit of Zolder. After Robert Kubica's victory in 2005, the World Series by Renault's flagship category features an exceptional line-up this year. The competition promises to be intense between "old hands" from last year and drivers who have moved over from F3 or Formula Renault 2.0. As many as twenty of the thirty drivers entered have the potential to become champion!

The World Series by Renault took its first tentative steps here in Zolder only one year ago. Cheered on by more than 70,000 spectators, Enrico Toccacelo and Robert Kubica won the opening races of an exciting and dramatic season. Whilst preserving its character and charm, the Belgian circuit has undergone some major safety related changes in the interim, including the widening of run-off areas.

Over the past month, the fifteen teams have taken part in collective testing at three of the championship circuits (Barcelona, Le Mans and Nürburgring). The tests provided us with an idea of potential driver standings for this season as well as showing us just how competitive and high the standard of driving is set to be.

Obviously, attention is most keenly focussed on the twelve "old hands". After racking up a series of podium places in 2005, Christian Montanari (Prema Power Team), Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com), Patrick Pilet (GD Racing), Enrico Toccacelo (Eurointernational), Colin Fleming (Carlin Motorsport), Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) and Milos Pavlovic (Cram Compétition) now have their eyes on the title. And although Celso Miguez (Pons Racing), Ryo Fukuda (Tech 1 Racing), Matteo Meneghello (GD Racing), Tomas Kostka and Pastor Maldonado (Draco Racing) missed out on the champagne in 2005, they are determined to make up for it this season!

The "old hands" will be up against a large contingent of former F3 drivers who look good. British and Spanish F3 champions, Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering) and Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com) have demonstrated that they are worthy title holders during collective testing. But let's not overlook James Rossiter (Pons Racing), Alvaro Barba (Jenzer Motorsport), Pascal Kochem (Eurointernational), Robbie Kerr (KTR) and Steven Kane (Epsilon Euskadi), who have all achieved good results in F3.

Two former Formula Renault 2.0 drivers looked particularly comfortable during the off-season. Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) and Benjamin Hanley (Cram Compétition), runners-up in Germany and Italy respectively in 2005, have bridged the gap with surprising ease. It is worth noting that Hanley joined the RDD programme this winter.

This list of favourites does not stop there, however. Hayanari Shimoda (Victory Engineering), Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi), Borja Garcia and Bruce Jouanny (RC Motorsport) also merit our attention.

Two Belgian drivers are competing in the World Series. Grégory Franchi (Prema Power Team) and JérÃ'me d'Ambrosio (Tech 1 Racing) will have the distinct advantage of knowing the track well and the unconditional support of the local fans! Belgian team KTR, whose driver line-up consists of Canadian driver Sean McIntosh and Robbie Kerr, will also get their fair share of support.

There is a new race format for the second season of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5. Saturdays and Sundays will both feature one qualifying session and one race. The Sunday race will include a mandatory Pit Stop to change two tyres.

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Bruce Jouanny , Ryo Fukuda , Robbie Kerr , Hayanari Shimoda , Colin Fleming , Eric Salignon , Christian Montanari , Steven Kane , James Rossiter , Sean McIntosh , Alvaro Parente , Robert Kubica , Matteo Meneghello , Pastor Maldonado , Borja Garcia , Celso Miguez , Patrick Pilet , Milos Pavlovic , Mikhail Aleshin , Tomas Kostka , Davide Valsecchi , Andy Soucek , Pascal Kochem
Teams Carlin