NEC: Series Zolder preview

From A(ssen) to Z(older): Back-to-back weekends for Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 Only one week after the successful meeting during the "RIZLA+ Racing Day" at the TT Circuit in Assen, The Netherlands, that attracted a weekend ...

From A(ssen) to Z(older): Back-to-back weekends for Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0

Only one week after the successful meeting during the "RIZLA+ Racing Day" at the TT Circuit in Assen, The Netherlands, that attracted a weekend crowd of no less than 55,000 spectators, another highlight is coming up for teams and drivers in the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0. The eleventh and twelfth round of the 2008 season will be held during the "RTL GP Masters of Formula 3" at the circuit of Zolder in Belgium.

The "Masters of Formula 3" event was first held at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands in 1991 and the Dutch track hosted the race until 2006. Noise restrictions limited the number of days available for international race meetings and this prompted the Zandvoort organisers to move their annual Formula 3 event to nearby Zolder. The character of the Formula 3 event remains unchanged, with the best-placed drivers from the Formula 3 Euro Series and the British Formula 3 Championship racing each other in what has become the only international encounter in the category when the respective championships are still underway.

For the participants in the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0, the two races during the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 at the Circuit Zolder are among the highlights of the year. Probably, we will see the Masters of tomorrow competing in the sixth race weekend of the season. After all, Formula 3 is often a logical step for a driver having been successful in Formula Renault, as former Masters winners like Alexandre Premat, Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta can testify. They all honed their racing skills in Formula Renault before stepping up to Formula 3.

Valtteri Bottas (Motopark Academy), who won both rounds at Assen last weekend, bringing his total to eight race wins so far, is coming to Zolder as the leader in the points' standings. His Portuguese team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa is currently second, followed by Johan Jokinen, Tobias Hegewald and Kuba Giermaziak (all Motopark). The top ten in the standings is being completed by a quartet of Dutch drivers, for whom Zolder is some kind of home race, too: Stef Dusseldorp (Van Amersfoort Racing) is seventh, followed by Kelvin Snoeks and Thomas Knopper (both AR Motorsport) and Bart Hylkema (Koirainen Bros.).

Formula Renault action at Zolder will start on Friday at 9.35 h with 30 minutes of free practice, followed by qualifying from 14.15 h. Because of the packed time schedule at the "RTL GP Masters of Formula 3", the qualifying format is different. Contrarily to other NEC race meetings, there will only be one qualifying session for the two races, the fastest lap for each driver determining the grid position for the first race and the second-fastest lap for each driver deciding on the starting grid line- up for the second race. The first race starts on Saturday at 11.00 h, the second race gets underway on Sunday at 12.45 h. Both races will be run over a duration of 25 minutes each. TV-footage can be watched on the Internet via www.raceworld.tv

Q & A with Kevin Kleveros (KEO Racing), in his first season in Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0

You are in your first season in the series. Are you satisfied with your own performance so far?

Yes, I am quite satisfied with my own performance, although I have also had some technical problems, but keeping in mind that this is only my first year, I am quite happy so far.

Which were your personal highlight and your lowest point?

My personal highlight certainly was at Alastaro in Finland, where I drove a very good race and finished eighth. The car was good, I felt good, so that certainly was something to remember. The lowest point probably was the first race at Assen last week, where I was hit from behind and had to drive all the race with a broken rear wing and a damaged suspension. That was not easy at all!

You were still in karting last year. Do you consider the NEC FR 2.0 as a good series to get started in cars?

Yes, definitely, because as a driver, you can learn a lot of things. You learn how to use the wings, how to work with aerodynamics, how to get used to the different grip levels. The Formula Renault car is a proper race car, really fun to drive.

How do you cope with having to learn all the new tracks?

Fortunately, I have always been able to learn new tracks quickly, so that certainly is an advantage. Nowadays, you can also play videogames to learn a new track or watch it on the internet. Personally, I don't use videogames, but I do watch footages from races on the internet. For the rest, I usually take it easy during the first ten laps of free practice to get to know the track. After that, I know where I have to go.

This weekend, we are racing at Zolder. What do you expect from this event?

It will be my first time there, so I have to learn the circuit first. I hope for a top 10 finish which I know is within reach when everything goes fine. And I also hope that the weather is nice!

-credit: necup.com

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Paul di Resta , Valtteri Bottas , Stef Dusseldorp , Kelvin Snoeks , Jakub Giermaziak