A podium finish redolent of victory!
Guillaume Moreau was taken on by the SG Formula/KMP Group to bring the team to the forefront of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Frenchman accomplished the first phase of his mission with a podium finish on the beautiful Portimao circuit in Portugal. This first podium finish is a great reward for Guilluame and the whole team for all the work they've done over the past few weeks.
The brand new Algarve circuit in the south of Portugal has a spectacular undulating layout with a long, wide main straight that facilitates overtaking.
Thanks to Guillaume Moreau's and the SG Formula/KMP Group's hard work there was a noticeable gain in performance between Silverstone and Le Mans. "At Le Mans we'd already moved up a notch. The team understands the car a lot better," explains Guillaume. "We've sorted out a lot of things over the past two races and we arrived in the Algarve with a very good basic setup."
In free practice, Guillaume was back on a track on which he'd already raced in GT. "The circuit's really nice. It's varied, quick and undulating with a few bumpy bits-- it's a success! We worked hard and found a good compromise in the free session. The team and I understand each other very well so we get the car set up very quickly."
There was no SuperPole in this round, which was part of the Le Mans Series weekend, just a single qualifying session split into two groups. Guillaume was in Group A and set the fourth-quickest time, which soon became third after one of his rivals was disqualified after scrutineering. "When you qualify well, it changes everything. The car was really great to drive. With the heat we only had two flying laps, so you had to structure the session. It's a very positive result and shows real gain in out-and-out performance."
In the first round, the eight quickest lined up in the reverse order on the grid. This put Guillaume on the second row and for the second race, run the same day, he started from sixth.
He made a great start in the first race. "I made a good getaway and I was pretty aggressive when the lights went out." He was in second place at the end of lap 1 but Bernard Baguette shot past him at the end of the pits straight. "The sixth gear ratio was too long and Bernard took advantage of it, as did Jaime Alguersuari after the first safety car period. Then I was able to fend off Charles Pic, but the safety car came out again and with the long ratio I couldn't fight him off on the restart. So I came home fifth and that was already a good result."
There was only a 3-hour break between the 2 races. The SG Formula/KMP Group team wasted no time and opened no.26's gearbox to modify sixth gear. "Everybody was quick and efficient. The car was really good in the second race. I was on the pace straight away and I came round in third place at the end of lap 1. The car was very well balanced. I was hot on the heels of Alguersuari and Pic and we opened up a big gap over the others. I got a bit of a scare towards the end when the safety car came out again. But I didn't back off, and there was even a moment when I reckoned I could win the race as Alguersuari and Pic were at it hammer and tongs."
Guillaume crossed the line in third place. "Our first podium is a reward for all the work done over the past few weeks. It's a fantastic result for a team that made its debut in the championship in Monaco. It's only my third weekend in FR 3.5 with the SG Formula/KMP Group squad, and we weren't really expecting to finish on the rostrum so soon! What's more, it's very positive for me to achieve this result in front of the guys from the Le Mans Series just when we're preparing for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours.
"As Stephane Guerin said, this podium is almost as good as a victory. Our aim for the rest of the season is to stay among the front-runners - and if we can win a race that would be even better!"
The next Formula Renault 3.5 Series weekend will start on 18th September on the Nurburgring, and the last round of the season will be in October in Spain in Motorland Aragon, another new circuit for everybody.