EU: 2007 season preview

Back to the grindstone For the 38 drivers entered for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, it's time to get back to work. With plenty of changes and new faces compared to the field for last season, this year's line-up is packed full of...

Back to the grindstone

For the 38 drivers entered for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, it's time to get back to work. With plenty of changes and new faces compared to the field for last season, this year's line-up is packed full of young hopefuls looking to cut their teeth in the category. The -- experienced' drivers such as Nelson Panciatici (SG Formula), Brendon Hartley, Jaime Alguersuari (Epsilon Red Bull), Martin Plowman and Henki Waldschmidt (Prema Power Team) will have to make a good start to the season if they are to avoid being put to shame by the rookies!

With careers in karting and single-seaters now shorter than ever, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 is so youthful that most drivers are too young to have even passed their driving tests! But that's not to say they don't know how to drive. Far from it! With drivers often attempting passing manoeuvres of two, three or even four abreast, the Eurocup races provide some of the most spectacular race action there is out there!

For 2007, there are at least a dozen drivers who look to have a legitimate claim to succeed the title-holder Filipe Albuquerque, who is now driving for Epsilon Euskadi in World Series Formula Renault 3.5.

One of the drivers to set himself apart from the rest is Henki Waldschmidt, who already has a couple of pole positions to his name this season. After winning the two opening races of the Italian Championship in Vallelunga, the Dutchman also put in some excellent times in collective testing. One of his teammates from the Prema Power Team stable, the British driver Martin Plowman will be another name to watch out for. Another driver up there with the leaders in the opening races in Italy was the Romanian Mihai Marinescu (District Racing), who also looks to be in with a shout for victory.

Fielding no less than six cars, the impressive Epsilon Euskadi outfit has undoubtedly still to unleash its full potential. In Vallelunga, the New Zealander Brendon Hartley was able to get the upper hand over his teammate Jaime Alguersuari. But these two are still very much on the list of possible candidates for a win in Zolder.

Meanwhile, those running in the French Championship got their season underway in Nogaro. Slated as one of the favourites, Nelson Panciatici (SG Formula) proved less of a force to be reckoned with than his teammates Alexandre Marsoin and Charles Pic. Panciatici will undoubtedly be looking redeem himself when he comes to Zolder.

Motopark Oschersleben, the team which took the reigning Champion to the title, are putting their faith in Oliver Oakes, who was already in Eurocup action last season, and Frank Kechele, who makes his return to competitive motorsport after a sabbatical year away from the track.

Some of the other well-known faces to watch are Roberto Merhi (Jenzer Motorsport), Daniele Zampieri (Cram Competition) and Felipe Lapenna (BVM Minardi Team). Last minute entrants Carlin Motorsport will be fielding a line-up of two cars driven by the Lebanese drivers Joe Ghanem and Alex Khateeb.

Though Belgian drivers are conspicuously absent from the field, Boutsen Energy Racing will be looking to do Belgium proud with its two cars entrusted to the Swiss driver Jonathan Hirschi and Stephane Richelmi from Monaco. French is looking to be the language of choice for this team!

Two drivers have received invitation entries for this opening meeting: Tristan Vautier and Gary Hirsch. They are both rookies but will definitely be worth looking out for as both will be driving for Graff Racing, who were undefeated in Zolder last year with Laurent Groppi!

-credit: renault

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Brendon Hartley , Martin Plowman , Filipe Albuquerque , Laurent Groppi , Mihai Marinescu , Alexandre Marsoin , Charles Pic , Jaime Alguersuari , Roberto Merhi , Oliver Oakes , Stéphane Richelmi , Tristan Vautier , Nelson Panciatici , Jonathan Hirschi , Joe Ghanem , Gary Hirsch , Felipe Lapenna , Frank Kechele
Teams Carlin