Up one day, down the next ... or is it the other way round? Back after an 8-week break, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series wowed crowds of 90,000 at the Nurburgring and 170,000 in Le Mans. In the space of two weekends Julien Jousse ran through the...
Up one day, down the next ... or is it the other way round?
Back after an 8-week break, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series wowed crowds of 90,000 at the Nurburgring and 170,000 in Le Mans. In the space of two weekends Julien Jousse ran through the whole gamut of racing emotions: from fastest in qualifying to backmarker on the grid, from the pain of dropping out to the joys of the podium. But the driver from the South of France is still in the running in championship race, with the 2nd spot firmly in his sights.
Despite problems with his starter motor and a broken 2nd gear ratio during open practice, Julien started the German leg of the World Series by Renault in brilliant fashion, clocking the fastest time of his qualifying group. "The car was going like a dream first thing on Saturday morning. But for the Superpole the weather was hotter and I wasn't getting anything like the same level of performance out of it."
Julien was 6th fastest, which was good enough to get him a good spot on the grid line-up for both main races, starting with the reverse grid on the Saturday, which he started in 3rd place. "I attacked hard to stay within a few tenths of Fauzy and waited for a chance to get past him. Unfortunately, in the 7th lap I lifted my foot off a bit too much in turn 10 and it drifted across onto the dirty part of the track and I ended up in the gravel trap."
In the Formula Renault 3.5 Series format, Sunday's race includes an mandatory tyre-change pit-stop. "My start was nothing to write home about - in the opening laps I was only lying 7th. But in Lap 6 my team pulled off the fastest tyre change sequence of the day - well ahead of my closest rivals. It proved to be a great tactic because I was soon up into 3rd place, right behind Molina."
Julien pressured the Spaniard and stayed on his tail all the way to the flag. The Frenchman crossed the line in 3rd place but was upgraded to 2nd when the race winner got disqualified for a technical infringement.
Julien went into the French round of the competition hoping to consolidate the 2nd spot in the standings that he had won in Hungary and had hung onto in Nurburgring. Unfortunately, the Bugatti circuit turned out not to be as happy a hunting ground for him as Magny-Cours last year, where he picked up the first of his seven podium places in the 3.5 class.
It was bad enough in open practice when his clutch gave out but then his electrics started playing up. When failing hydraulics piled even more pressure on him he probably felt like blowing his top! That way Julien managed to miss out on a big part of Thursday's practice time. "The team got everything repaired as quickly as they could, and when I clocked the 11th fastest time things were not looking so bad for us. However, when testing restarted on the Friday the track was wet. There were a number of stoppages and I never got properly into my stride. We had trouble with the tyres, too. For some reason the old ones were better than the new. That said, I only have myself to blame for what happened in qualifying. The track was dry but I still managed to put my wheels onto the foam edging of the rumble strips coming out of the second "S Bleu" bend. It was saturated with water! I spun off and clattered the wall."
This mishap was responsible for Julien's worst-placed grid position of the season. His objective for Race 1 was therefore to get himself a Top 10 finish and a better spot on the Race 2 grid. A fine start helped him on his way to complete his mission, as he bagged two points for coming 9th. "Things might have gone better still had I not got stuck behind Alcaraz. The guy cut across the Dunlop chicane twice but it went unpunished. He was much slower than me but I just couldn't find a way past him."
Julien's reward for making up ground was 12th spot on the start grid in Sunday's race. "Unlike on Saturday, I never managed to find the hole to slip into at the start. My pit stop didn't go as well as it did on the Nurburgring, either. There was a problem with the front right wheel of the car. It made me lose 5 seconds, so I only finished 15th. If I look back over the two meetings, I think our car performed well but I was handicapped by not getting in enough practice laps. Perhaps the pressure was on me a bit too much, as well."
The French driver will be embarking on the trip to the Iberian Peninsula with the firm intention of becoming vice-cham- pion. He will be hoping to help Tech 1 Racing repeat the success it had in 2007 in the team standings. In both ca- ses there is just a 9-point gap to make up. So, rendezvous in Estoril next September 27-28!