EFREN: FRenV6/Clio Cup Monza preview

The 2003 season is drawing to a close ... but there is still a lot to be decided before the garage doors shut on another sucessful season of the LG Super Racing Weekend series. For the last action-packed weekend of racing of the year, the teams...

The 2003 season is drawing to a close ... but there is still a lot to be decided before the garage doors shut on another sucessful season of the LG Super Racing Weekend series. For the last action-packed weekend of racing of the year, the teams and drivers will be meeting up at the Italian circuit of Monza, located near Milan, in Italy.

The circuit has a special significance for the multi-series platform, as it hosted the first-ever event in this format, in 2001. Since then, however, the circuit has undergone renovations, both to the infrastructure, and to the track itself, which is now 5.77 km long, and which remains one of the fastest circuits in Europe.

The inaugural Champion of the Eurocup Formula Renault V6 should be known after the last two races in Italy. Jose Maria Lopez, from Argentina, has taken an option on the title, but his closest rival, Tristan Gommendy of France, has vowed to fight until the end. This round will also see the Renault Sport Clio Trophy come to an end, category legend Luca Rangoni having claimed his fourth successive title. As for the Renault Sport Clio Cup, the runaway leaders are Michael Rangoni and Stephane Lemeret, and although Rangoni has a lead of 28 points, Belgian driver Lemeret is still in with a mathematical chance.

Other support races in Monza will include the European Alfa Challenge, and the deciding round of the Italian Formula Renault 2000 Championship.

MONZA - ACCORDING TO GABRIELE TARQUINI

Joint leader of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, Gabriele Tarquini has had a long career in both Formual One and Touring cars. In 1994, he won the British Touring Car Championship for Alfa Romeo; in 2001, he came close to winning the FIA European Super Touring Championship, losing out to Fabrizio Giovanardi at the final round.

"This is definitely the fastest circuit we have in the Championship. It is not fun to drive, because you spend most of the lap time giving full throttle on the straight, rather than negotiating corners. However, it is very difficult, because the smallest hesitation can cost you a lot. A slight mistake at the exit of a chicane or the Parabolica, would result in a significant loss of speed on the straight.

You need to maintain maximum concentration for the whole race, particularly at the braking points. FIA ETCC cars have small brake discs, however we can brake at the 130-metre mark before the first chicane; during the races we have to manage the brakes in order to save them, but in the final laps our braking points will be up to twenty or thirty metres earlier. Set-up is another challenge. You should have a very stiff car here, because of the high speed, but it is better to find a compromise, in order to have a more efficient car that can jump over the kerbs. In this respect, touring cars are better than singleseaters. As for overtaking, you choose a place and dive inside. The only place where it is impossible to pass is between the two Lesmos."

EUROCUP FORMULA RENAULT V6

THE FIGHT IS STILL ON

With the title fight still open for the inaugural Eurocup FR V6 title, the teams and drivers will be heading for the legendary circuit of Monza for the final two rounds of the 2003 season. Josee Maria Lopez of Argentina has a lead of 36 points over France's TristanGommendy, while Neel Jani of Switzerland is a further 12 points behind. Kosuke Matsuura, despite taking his third win of the season in Estoril, is currently fourth, and cannot aspire to the title. However, he is still in a position to finish in the top three.

The classification of the Eurocup is still provisional, as the result from the appeal of ARTA-Signature concerning their exclusion from the qualifying session at Spa on July 25th, when their two single-seaters were judged not to conform with the regulations, is still outstanding. As the appeal suspended the situation, the cars started from their original qualifying positions, and Gommendy proceeded to win the race. This could, obviously, have an effect on the final standings.

The final two races of the season should be extremely interesting. New among the drivers will be Ryan Sharp, who will drive for SRTS, and who is possibly considering racing in the series full-time in 2004.

Lopez, part of the Renault Driver Development Program, is the obvious favourite, having already claimed eight pole positions, five wins and seven fastest laps this season. However, Gommendy has vowed to fight until the end, and Jani is also close behind. As for Matsuura, his speed could suit the fast Monza circuit. Whatever happens, it is bound to be fascinating.

RENAULT SPORT CLIO CUP

RANGONI OR LEMERET FOR THE TITLE ?

Once more, the Renault Sport Clio Elf International Cup will run as part of the Renault Clio Speed Trophy in Monza, for a final 70-kilometre race, the last European Clio race, although the Cup cars will have their own qualifying session and classification. By the end of the race, the winner of the 2003 title will be known. The two drivers still in the running are Michael Rangoni, younger brother of Clio Trophy superstar Luca, and Belgian driver Stephane Lemeret. Although Rangoni has a lead of 28 points, Lemeret still has a chance. They have a comfortable lead over the drivers fighting for third place, for which nothing has yet been decided.

FIGHT FOR SECOND PLACE

With Luca Rangoni claiming the title back in Oschersleben, for the fourth time in a row, only the second and third places remain to be decided. Five drivers are still aiming to finish as runners-up to Rangoni, after a collision at the start of the Estoril round removed Gabillon and D'Aste at the first corner, while early leader Beltoise, with a badly damaged car, was unable to withstand the pressure from Postiglione, Greuet and Zadotti. Beltoise still managed to finish fourth, despite the damage to his car. This means that Postiglione is currently lying second, but the fight between him and his rivals, Gabillon, D'Aste, Beltoise and Greuet, should be extremely interesting at the fast Monza circuit.

-lgs-

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Kosuke Matsuura , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Jose Maria Lopez , Stéphane Lemeret , Luca Rangoni , Ryan Sharp