Onwards and upwards!
After qualifying 6th in the two-group format at Portimao, KMP Group/SG Formula took part in its first Formula Renault 3.5 Series Superpole session at the Nurburgring thanks to the 3rd best time recorded by Guillaume Moreau in Group B. Although problems in the peloton meant that the Frenchman was unable to consolidate the potential of his car during the actual races, the team from La Rochelle did not return home quite empty handed. Russian driver Anton Nebylitskiy scored the point for the best climb after turning in a solid performance in front of 90,000 spectators at the German leg of the World Series by Renault.
Following on from its first podium place in Portugal, the team continued its learning curve on the Nurgburgring Grand Prix track. "Since testing is not allowed outside meetings, open practice is the only chance we get to assess new solutions", explained team manager Stephane Guerin. "We soon realized that we had got it wrong on the Friday and our engineers set to work on developing the set-up which had worked so well in Portimao". This enabled Guillaume Moreau to achieve a superb 3rd best time on the Saturday morning, which meant that he was able to take part in a genuine Superpole session for the first time. Anton was less fortunate since a red flag waved two minutes from the end of the race caused him to cut his speed in what was promising to be a fast lap.
The Superpole is a special event calling also for experience. Guillaume used only one set of new tyres and came away with the 11th best time. The Limoges-born driver nevertheless hoped to muster some points. He got away perfectly at the start of race 1. He chose to brake on the inside line at the famous Mercedes Arena turn but found himself stuck there when another driver cut across him. Part of the front wing was damaged in the impact and Guillaume ended the first lap in 13th place before quickly climbing back to 9th position. Unfortunately on the ninth lap a rival driver error meant that the back of car No. 26 was hit by the car coming back onto the track and Guillaume was unable to avoid going into a tailspin. This was a pity since he'd got the race dynamics right, as is evident from the best partial time set in the highly technical second track sector. Instead of finishing 11th, Guillaume could well have snatched 6th, or even 5th place, from the Alguersuari/Pic duo.
For his part, Anton went up three places on the first lap and four on the second, and passed the former Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup runner-up, Van der Drift. In the end he crossed the finishing line in 12th position, two seconds behind Guillaume. He opened his account in the championship standings by managing to win the point for the best climb.
Both KMP Group/SG Formula drivers came close to earning points on the Saturday and had every intention of picking some up on the Sunday. Anton came close to achieving this objective but excessive understeering prevented him from challenging Van der Drift for the last available point and he came home in 11th place. In all the confusion on the first turn, Guillaume once again failed to come out unscathed. This time the damage was more serious and, despite attempts to repair the front wheel axle unit, he was forced to retire.
"I think that the team has ramped up a notch since Portimao, which was a kind of neutral terrain for everyone on the grid", said Stephane Guerin. "It'll be the same too at Motorland, another new circuit, with all the teams starting from square one. It's up to us to take advantage of the situation and prove that we're competitive." The FR3.5 Series will complete its European tour in Spain on 24 and 25 October.