New Megane Trophy ahead already The 2008 season is barely over, but preparations are already underway for 2009, with the Eurocup Megane Trophy competitors coming together this Tuesday for a day of collective testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT. The...
New Megane Trophy ahead already
The 2008 season is barely over, but preparations are already underway for 2009, with the Eurocup Megane Trophy competitors coming together this Tuesday for a day of collective testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT. The best time of the day went to the impressive New Megane Trophy.
A severe weather warning was issued for the south-east of France today, and it was in wet and very windy conditions that the Megane Trophy drivers took to the track for this day of collective testing. The track dried out as the morning progressed, but the afternoon saw a torrential downpour. A number of drivers from a range of backgrounds took part, including national Clio Cup champions invited by Renault Sport Technologies. The New Megane Trophy car was also on show, with New Megane Trophy development driver Kurt Mollekens at the wheel.
British driver Ben Winrow, the 2008 Clio Cup UK champion, was impressive in the morning with Tech 1 Racing, clocking some excellent times both in the wet and in the dry. "This was the first time I'd driven the car and my first time at the Paul Ricard," explained the young Englishman. "I'm only 23 and my experience is pretty much limited to the Clio Cup. I was impressed by the cornering speed and the aerodynamic support. I quickly gained in confidence and increased my speed as the Tech 1 team asked. I got on really well with the team today."
Although he is only 24 himself, the Belgian Clio Cup winner, Francois Verbist, is more experienced. The Belgian driver was just as happy as Winrow with his first outing in a Megane Trophy, with Equipe Verschuur. "It's a real race car, very similar to the Silhouettes I've driven in Belcar. I had a great time despite the difficult conditions."
Dutch champion Pim Van Riet, Best Junior in the Italian Clio Cup Francesco Iorio, Spanish Clio Cup winner Antonio de la Reina, and third-placed finisher in the French Clio Cup Marc Guillot were unanimous in their verdict. All were impressed by the car and all are keen to move into the category in 2009. "It was a great experience. It's the first time I've driven a rear-wheel drive. It's fantastic," said Marc Guillot. "Even though I got the worst of the conditions this afternoon, it's made me determined to do everything I can to take part in the 2009 Eurocup Megane Trophy."
Andreas Stucki, third in the Swiss Clio Cup, is also keen to move into the Eurocup Megane Trophy, but he is realistically aiming for 2010. "I need one more season learning my trade in the Clio Cup to be in with a shot of making it into the Megane Trophy in 2010."
There were also drivers more used to single-seater racing discovering the pleasures of driving a saloon today, among them Sebastien Chardonnet of Tech 1, Anthony Tardieu of TDS and Laurent Stieger, Sergio Campana and Dean Smith with Oregon Team.
A guest of Team Lompech, Gregory Guilvert impressed onlookers with his speed. "Like a lot of people, I'm looking for funding, but this is a category that interests me. The car is quick and when you see New Megane Trophy on the track, you can't help but be impressed!"
All eyes were of course on the New Megane Trophy car, which is coming to the end of its development in the capable hands of Kurt Mollekens. "Despite the difficult and changing weather conditions, we clocked the best time of the day," said Mollekens. "It just goes to show how good New Megane Trophy is, as these are the worst possible conditions for a car under development. We are very happy."