Fiesta in the Basque country!
The new Bilbao street circuit will be inaugurated this weekend for the fifth round of the World Series by Renault. After Monaco, the Formula Renault 3.5 are going to have another taste of street racing. And Robert Kubica, who drives for the local Epsilon Euskadi team, comes to Bilbao as the leader of a championship which has already seen seven different winners in as many races!
The unveiling of a new circuit is always something that little bit special. All the more so when its a city-centre street circuit! On Friday afternoon, the World Series by Renault drivers will have the privilege of inaugurating the 3980 metre circuit which winds around the streets close to the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
There will be no collective testing which is usually organized on Thursday to allow the teams to fine-tune their cars. Two 45 minutes free practice sessions will however give them the opportunity to get their setups right for qualifying on Saturday.
In Monaco, its was the Draco Multiracing USA that proved itself to be strongest in this domain, with Christian Montanari taking both the victory and pole position. The Italian team has remained on good form, as Markus Winkelhock also had a taste of victory this weekend in Le Mans.
Another team that looked very comfortable on the streets of the Principality was the Belgian KTR team which will be looking to Jaap Van Lagen and Tristan Gommendy to bring home the goods after a poor showing in Le Mans. Gommendy's poor performance was a reflection of a weekend which in general did not go well for the French drivers, who seemed to be right out of luck on home soil!J Admittedly, Eric Salignon (Cram Competition) saved some Gallic pride by taking a 4th place. Patrick Pilet (Jenzer Motorsport) and Simon Pagenaud (DHG Saulnier Racing) also scored some points, but it all fell somewhat short of the hopes and ambitions expressed in the run-up to the week-end! The French contingent will therefore be very keen to save some face on a circuit which will probably remind them of Pau, the scene of past exploits!
Failing to be on form on home soil is a luxury which the Spanish drivers will not be able to permit themselves, in front of crowds who will be fervently behind their cause. This weekend Robert Kubica looks set to become the most Basque Polish man ever! Robert is the leading driver for the Epsilon Euskadi team, based in Azkoitia (65km from Bilbao). The leader of the overall standings since Zolder was back on the podium for both races in Le Mans extending his lead to 23 points. His teammate Felix Porteiro will be looking to put an end to the persistent bad press that has been following him around since his victory in Valencia!
Still second in the overall standings, Adrian Valles was unable to defend his chances under proper conditions in Le Mans. The Pons Racing driver was suffering from an ear infection which should have cleared up in time for Bilbao. Adrian, who is still in the hunt for his first victory, would like to add an eighth name to the series of winners this season! Celso Miguez, the second driver from the Catalan outfit, will be looking for his first points of the season.
To this non-exhaustive list of possible candidates for victory, we should also add the Carlin Motorsport duo of Will Power and Andreas Zuber, the Californian Colin Fleming (Jenzer Motorsport) and the Italian Enrico Toccacelo (Victory Engineering).
We should also mention that Matteo Meneghello will be returning to action for Eurointernational after his suspension at the Monaco GP. The Indian RC Motorsport driver Karun Chandhok will be out of action until Donington after having picked up a ban in Le Mans.