Parente and Tech 1 Racing at the top
Having arrived in Barcelona with strong chances of taking the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 title, Alvaro Parente did not disappoint. The Portuguese took the drivers' title in the first race, while Tech 1 Racing claimed the teams' title. Thanks also to the three titles gained in the Eurocup Megane Trophy, the Toulouse-based team has now claimed five international championships in 2007.
While Simon Abadie and his troops took some time out to celebrate the titles won at Barcelona, they equally did not hesitate to get swiftly back to work. "Getting to the top is difficult, but staying there is even harder," said the youngest team manager in the World Series Formula Renault 3.5. "Having celebrated our titles, we got straight back to work to debrief this last race. In order to continue winning, we're going to have to work twice as hard in order to overcome the challenges that present themselves to us. In 2008 we will have a new car and a new driver and from now on we will be the team to beat. Next Tuesday, we'll already be at Paul Ricard for three days to test some drivers who might end up being Julien Jousse's team mates next year."
Back in Spain, Tech 1 Racing got off to a good start during free practice -- proudly flying the team's colours, painted Toulouse pink for the occasion. Alvaro Parente set fastest time in the in the first session. In the afternoon, the Portuguese was third behind Miguel Molina and Julien Jousse -- who was right at the sharp end of the field once more.
On Saturday morning, rain fell for qualifying. The Tech 1 drivers were both in the first group, but had varying fortunes. Alvaro qualified on the first row, while Julien was down on row 12 -- nearly three seconds off the pole time. "I don't know what happened : there was no grip and I couldn't attack," he said. "Maybe I was on a bad set of tyres. It's disappointing, as whatever happens from now on we're in for a difficult weekend."
The sun was back in the afternoon for the start of race one. When the race got underway, Salvador Duran took advantage of his pole position to stay in front of Alvaro Parente at the first corner. The Tech 1 driver followed his rival during the opening laps, then tried to attack the Mexican when he made a mistake. Simon Abadie then took the decision to bring forward Parente's pit stop. " Rather than risk an accident we preferred to stop Parente sooner in order to try and take an advantage later. " Unfortunately, Alvaro found himself stuck in traffic for several laps. When the stops were over, the Portuguese found himself in third place -- which was enough to take the title with one race to go ! At the finish, Alvaro was understandably delighted. As Julien Jousse had feared, he had a difficult race that finished with a 19th place.
Although the title was no longer at stake, Sunday's race allowed Alvaro to enjoy a big battle in the middle of the pack. He started off from eighth, and climbed up to sixth by the finish. Julien Jousse held onto the 19th place in which he had started.
Team boss Simon Abadie added: "This was a frustrating weekend for Julien, as he showed during free practice that he was able to fight for a podium place. We've still not really understood why he was off the pace during qualifying. It just goes to show once more that you need to be working hard constantly in this sport to ensure a strong all-round performance. He is going to have to get over this quickly and prepare thoroughly for the 2008 season. He will be assuming the role of title favourite, so it will be a different type of pressure. As for Alvaro, he delivered exactly what we asked of him. Obviously we would all have liked to end the season with a win, but the important thing was to score enough points to be sure of the titles. He's been worthy of the faith we placed in him, and we are very proud of that. Now it's down to him to prove his worth in the Renault F1 test that he will get as part of his prize. From our point of view, it's hard to know if we will be able to have another season like this -- but we're going to do everything we can to try. I'd like to thank Renault Sport, RPM and all our partners for all the help and support they have given us throughout this fantastic season."