21/09/06 - Le Mans -- Presentation Groppi steps into the fray Even after opening up a slight gap in Donington, Chris Van der Drift (JD Motorsport) is still under threat from Dani Clos (Jenzer Motorsport) and Filipe Albuquerque (Motopark ...
21/09/06 - Le Mans -- Presentation
Groppi steps into the fray
Even after opening up a slight gap in Donington, Chris Van der Drift (JD Motorsport) is still under threat from Dani Clos (Jenzer Motorsport) and Filipe Albuquerque (Motopark Academy). However, both of the New Zealander's rivals will have to buck the trend in Le Mans if they want to stay in with a hunt for the title in Barcelona. These three will fight it out under the watchful gaze of Laurent Groppi (Graff Racing), the newly-crowned French FR 2.0 Champion.
Since the start of the season, each Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 meeting has been dominated by a single driver. In Zolder it was Laurent Groppi, then Dani Clos in Istanbul and Misano, Filipe Albuquerque at the N0x00fcrburgring and Chris Van der Drift in Donington. It is Van der Drift who currently heads up the overall standings by virtue of being the most consistent out there. The 'Kiwi' has made it into the points nine times in ten races, once more than any of his closest rivals.
By dominating the most recent meeting, Van der Drift has proved that he has the pedigree to be a worthy successor to Kamui Kobayashi. But he is by no means invincible! Albuquerque proved the point last weekend by taking the North European Cup title, which Van der Drift had dominated for the best part of the season. This satisfying result should further boost the confidence of the Portuguese driver, whose form has been steadily on the up since the mid-summer.
In contrast, things seem to be on a downhill slope for Dani Clos. Sent to the back of the grid in both races in Donington for not having slowed down for the yellow flags in qualifying, the Catalan driver made two superb comebacks... only to see very little reward in terms of points. And while he still leads the Italian FR 2.0 Championship, he was beaten by Adrian Zaugg last weekend in Varano. Dani now needs a win in the Eurocup to put himself back in touch and go to Barcelona -- his home meeting -- still in with a shout for the title.
Meanwhile, Laurent Groppi, despite the fact that he has only contested four out of ten races so far this season, still lies fourth in the overall standings. He has built his campaign thus far on two wins in Zolder and two second places at the N0x00fcrburgring. With the French title already in the bag, the man from the French Savoie will be looking for nothing less than victory!
Other drivers who have been running in both the French Championship and the Eurocup will also be worth watching. After taking a podium spot in the UK, Carlo Van Dam (SG Formula) and Bertrand Baguette (Epsilon Euskadi) will both be going after their first win of the year. The Dutchman currently lies fourth equal with Groppi in the overall standings, with the Belgian back in sixth.
Of the other challengers, Kasper Andersen (JD Motorsport), Atte Mustonen (Jenzer Motorsport), Tom Dillmann (SG Formula) and S0x00e9bastien Buemi (Motopark Academy) seem to have the most potential of taking a podium spot.
The already strongly-international field, with some twenty nationalities represented, will be further bolstered by a contingent of French "wild card" entries who will be there to race but will not be able to score any points. Yann Clairay, who finished third in the 2005 Eurocup, will briefly be back with his SG Formula team for the occasion. He will be accompanied by Julien Canal from Le Mans (Graff Racing), Malo Olivier from St. Malo (Hexis Racing) and the Parisian driver Nelson Panciatici (Epsilon Euskadi), who will all be looking to mix it with the best drivers in the category.