Racing For Belgium closes a chapter and announces a new era
Racing For Belgium closed a chapter this last weekend. The Bornem based team competed in its last World Series by Renault Megane Trophy meeting in Barcelona, a championship which saw the young Belgian Jan Heylen walk off with the trophy in 2005. Joining the Frenchman Michael Rossi team boss Wim Coekelbergs also decided to get behind the wheel of the Megane this weekend. However the Cup experience gained by Racing For Belgium will not be lost because as from 2008 the team will be competing in the SEAT Leon EuroCup uit, a single make championship to be held during the WTCC-weekends.
Barcelona was the last race of the season for the Renault Megane Trophy, and for this last event RFB had entered two Meganes. Regular French driver Michael Rossi and team boss Wim Coekelbergs were looking to emphasise why the team with Jan Heylen clinched the championship in 2005.
"But for Michael it didn't work out as hoped for", Wim Coekelbergs reminisces about the weekend. "During the second race our young Frenchman lost his brakes and went straight into the wall; he was taken to hospital for a thorough check-up. Luckily everything turned out fine, but I had pictured that his end of season would have ended differently. Michael is very fast and experienced driver, but far too many hitches stopped him from being able to cash in on his driving skills."
Rossi finished ninth in the first race, having undergone difficult qualifying sessions in varying weather conditions. "We needed to take a gamble, because the track was drying out after a heavy downpour. Similar to the lottery you don't win every week and Michael wasn't up amongst the front runners."
Wim Coekelbergs personally finished in sixteenth and thirteenth spots. "In the last three years the level of the Trophy has evolved enormously. Top players have always competed, but the field is now far closer and everyone is really leaning towards the top. I hadn't driven a Megane for more than a year and you notice it immediately. You need to clock up the miles with such a car and that's what I was lacking. But notwithstanding all that I'm pretty happy with my performance, but I'm really sorry that Michael had to end his season in such a way."
But for RFB it's definitely not the end of Cup racing. As from next season the Belgian team will be heading towards the SEAT Leon EuroCup. Following on from several successful years in various national championships the SEAT Leon Supercopa will have its European debut under a new denomination: the SEAT Leon EuroCup. The championship will be comprised of six meetings with two sprint races to be held during the FIA WTCC-weekends on circuits in Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, England and Italy. In addition the winner at each meeting will be given an opportunity in the following WTCC-race.
"We are hoping to be selected because apart from the fact that it will be a fantastic championship it also happens to be a logical choice for us for two additional reasons", Coekelbergs explained. "Firstly we know the series well, seeing we were champions in Spain in 2005 and 2006 with Oscar Nogues, something not many Belgians know... Then add Jan's 2005 title to that as also our past in the Clio Cup and you'll then realise that we are quite at home in these types of Cup series. Secondly we remain active in the WTCC and from a logistics point of view it is the most obvious choice."
"As for the drivers this has not been decided as yet, but we would like to compete in the EuroCup with several cars."
RFB is now heading off for Dubai and Macau for the respective final rounds of the FIA GT3 and WTCC.