Resounding success again at Le Mans!
With more than 170,000 spectators in attendance over the weekend, the World Series by Renault confirmed its ranking as France's second most popular motorsport event. The penultimate meeting of the season was full of exciting races, but this year's championships will go down to the wire at the final round in Barcelona.
A resounding success once again
Just as was the case last year, the World Series by Renault drew huge crowds to Le Mans: 75,000 spectators came on Saturday and 95,000 were there on Sunday to check out the non-stop action. Despite the miserable weather, the car parks, campsites and stands were swamped with people from very early morning! The number of spectators thus confirms the World Series by Renault as the second most popular motorsport event in France, after the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour race.
World Series Formula Renault 3.5: a four-way title race
The penultimate round of the season only eliminated one potential successor to Robert Kubica as champion: Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering), who has now gone five consecutive races without scoring a single point. Mathematically, the Portuguese driver is not out of the running, but the title will almost certainly be won by Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com), Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA), Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) or Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport). Soucek and Garcia will have home advantage, but there is no doubt that Maldonado and particularly Danielsson have been quicker since the start of September.
Four French drivers in the points!
After a disappointing run of recent results, the French drivers showed much better form in front of their home crowd. To mark his return to the discipline, Tristan Gommendy performed impressively with two front row starts (including one pole position) and one podium finish. We should be seeing more from the Sartrouville driver in Barcelona with Pons Racing. Patrick Pilet was also all smiles this weekend, finishing twice in the points and underlining Tech 1 Racing's rapid progress. Race 2 also saw French drivers Bruce Jouanny (RC Motorsport) and Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com) in the points.
Three appeals could impact the end of the season
While the Zolder race 1 no longer counts towards the championship standings, the FIA's Court of Appeal is shortly to pronounce its decision on the RACB's judgement. So it's possible this race may be reinstated. Two other appeals are to be judged by the Italian and Belgian federations following the disqualifications of Pastor Maldonado (Misano 1) and Borja Garcia (Spa-Francorchamps 2) for technical non-compliance. Time will tell how these variables are to affect the outcome of the championship.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0: Carlo Van Dam steps up
Widely considered as one of the favourites at the outset of this season, Carlo Van Dam (SG Formula) has up to now failed to turn heads. But by regularly scoring points (ten times in the top 10 in 12 races), the Dutchman has managed to keep the leaders in his sights. At Le Mans, he finally took his first victory of the season while Chris Van der Drift (JD Motorsport), Dani Clos (Jenzer Motorsport) and Filipe Albuquerque (Motopark Academy) all failed to score big points. For these last two drivers, there are still slim title hopes, but in all probability the final title fight will pit Van der Drift against Van Dam. That is unless Bertrand Baguette (Epsilon Euskadi) - back on top form since Donington -- pips everyone at the post.
Eurocup Megane Trophy: Van Lagen on track for the title
Despite keeping off the podium at Le Mans, Jaap Van Lagen (Equipe Verschuur) is surely the closest driver to the title in this year's World Series by Renault. Never out of the points in any of the twelve races, Jaap has carved out a lead for himself that allows him to look to Barcelona with bags of confidence. Even if he were to drop a few points to Matthieu Lahaye (Tech 1 Racing) and Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Epsilon Euskadi), he could still be crowned champion by the end of Saturday's race!
Pagenaud, Zaugg and Ammermuller in the spotlight
After a convincing performance in World Series last year, Simon Pagenaud took the decision to cross the Atlantic to race in Formula Atlantic, the Champ Car antechamber series. This has proven to be an inspired move, because Pagenaud -- a pure product of Renault's promotional formulas -- has taken the title and - with it - the two million dollars that will allow him to join Sebastien Bourdais next season! Meanwhile, Adrian Zaugg, an absentee at Le Mans, was flying the flag for South Africa in A1 Grand Prix at Zandvoort. And with great success, as the RedBull driver took the win in the fist race! And last but not least, let's not forget to salute Michael Ammermuller's official debut in F1: the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 2005 vice-champion took the third driver seat with RBR at the China Grand Prix.