The work goes on
Even though the first race is not until the end of this month, the 2006 World Series Formula Renault 3.5 Championship is already well and truly underway. The second of three official test sessions before the season-opener at Zolder took place last weekend at Le Mans. Ryo Fukuda and Jérôme d'Ambrosio continued to pound out the laps, allowing the Toulouse-based team to work through its comprehensive development programme.
Like all the other drivers, Ryo and Jérôme were getting to grips with the newly-remodelled Bugatti circuit for the first time, which has been altered at the Dunlop chicane. The two days of the session were characterised by rapidly changing weather, which allowed the Tech 1 Racing team to test in a wide variety of conditions : wet, damp, drying and completely dry.
Having kicked off in Barcelona, the all-important test programme continued unabated throughout the two days in France. Team manager Simon Abadie was satisfied with his team's work. " Once more, we were able to try everything we had planned. " he said. " We're definitely heading in the right direction on our set-up. I'm only disappointed by the final result in terms of times : we're still not quite where we should be. "
Ryo Fukuda ran close to the top of the time sheets for a day and a half but had to settle for 19th fastest overall on Sunday afternoon, when he was unable to get in a decent run as the track got faster. Simon explained : " His first set of new tyres was ruined by a red flag that stopped his quick lap. On his second fast run, brake problems prevented him from setting the time we hoped for. Nonetheless, we had the potential once more to be about fifth fastest. "
Jérôme d'Ambrosio continued to learn about the car, even though he was unable to show his full potential on Sunday afternoon. " Physically this was much better for him than Barcelona, where all the long corners are particularly tough on the neck, " reported Simon. " We lost a few hours of running because of a mistake that ended up in the gravel trap. But Jérôme's progress is entirely on schedule and he also has the advantage of starting the season at home, on a circuit he knows by heart. We're all right behind him ! "
At the end of the Le Mans sessions, the team headed straight to Germany. The Renault Megane Trophy cars test for two days on the Nurburgring today and tomorrow, before the Formula Renault 3.5 single-seaters take over on Wednesday and Thursday. Only afterwards does the Tech 1 Racing team head back to Toulouse, rounding off a hectic week !