Le Mans Collective Test 2006-04-02

Interwetten lead the charge The Formula Renault 3.5 cars were in Le Mans this weekend for the second of the pre-season test sessions. After inconsistent conditions on Saturday, the weather improved on Sunday, giving the 30 drivers the chance to...

Interwetten lead the charge

The Formula Renault 3.5 cars were in Le Mans this weekend for the second of the pre-season test sessions. After inconsistent conditions on Saturday, the weather improved on Sunday, giving the 30 drivers the chance to lap with their new tyres. The driver order was very much in keeping with that established in Barcelona. The best time was set by Andy Soucek (Interwetten).

The drivers got their first taste of the new version of Le Mans' Bugatti circuit, the pit lane exit and Dunlop chicane having been recently changed. Testing got underway on Saturday on a predominantly wet track. The Le Mans circuit had significantly dried by the afternoon, helping the best drivers to dip under the 1'25" mark. Milos Pavlovic (Cram Competition) was quickest -- without putting on new tyres -- with a time of 1'24"881. The Yugoslavian was followed by Eric Salignon who, along with Interwetten team-mate Andy Soucek, was clearly determined to honour his team colours.

The track was wet again on Sunday morning. It dried a little before the break, although large wet patches remained into the afternoon. At home in the wet conditions, Patrick Pilet (GD Racing) set the morning's best time, but was still more than 1.5 seconds adrift of Pavlovic's overall best.

On Sunday afternoon, the action did not really heat up until the last half hour of the session. The two Interwetten drivers Andy Soucek and Eric Salignon caused a sensation by snatching the top two places. With a lap of 1'23"647, the Spaniard was the only driver to dip under the 1'24" mark.

Andy Soucek (Interwetten): "This is only the second time I have driven the car and this is not a circuit that I knew before coming here. We started with the set-up we used here in 2005, before switching to the one we used in Barcelona. I am very pleased with this result. I'm gradually establishing myself in the series. Eric and I are working in total harmony."

Eric Salignon (Interwetten): "We had to wait until the last afternoon for the track to completely dry out. Then we could put in some serious work. It's difficult to put a series of laps together when there are so many red flags."

Colin Fleming (Carlin Motorsport): "It's not easy to work when the weather is so changeable, but on the other hand at least it gives us a chance to test in all conditions. I am still very confident about the coming season!"

Hayanari Shimoda (Victory Engineering): "The car is excellent; it's probably the best car I've ever driven. Everything is going well with the team and I am really focussed for the coming season. I'm not sure as yet whether I will also compete in a sportscar racing programme."

Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering): "The Formula Renault 3.5 is a very exciting car to drive. It has impressive aerodynamics that generate a lot of downforce. I still have a lot to learn about tyre conservation and shifting down the gears."

Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport): "The car is very useful, particularly on the long fast bends. I think it's better than the GP2 with the grooved tyres. It would be nice however if the car was a bit powerful. But overall the car is very consistent with the carbon brakes and the steering wheel-mounted gearshift."

-renault-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula Renault 3.5
Drivers Hayanari Shimoda , Colin Fleming , Eric Salignon , Alvaro Parente , Borja Garcia , Patrick Pilet , Milos Pavlovic , Andy Soucek
Teams Carlin