The first step is always the hardest! It was already quite a race for KMP Group SG Formula to beat the timetable and get to Monte-Carlo in time for practice for the 5th round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. They came away from the meeting...
The first step is always the hardest!
It was already quite a race for KMP Group SG Formula to beat the timetable and get to Monte-Carlo in time for practice for the 5th round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. They came away from the meeting with the satisfaction of having seen Anton Nebylitskiy complete the 25-lap race on the season's trickiest circuit.
The "Go 3.5!" project was hatched just two weeks before the race so it was always going to be a big challenge. But, of course, you have to start somewhere! Nobody was expecting miracles from a team and which had no experience of racing these 500HP monsters around the mythical Monaco circuit. However, everyone stuck to their task with the will to make progress and to learn from the experience of racing against opponents who, for the most part, have been competing in the category ever since it was created in 2005. Of course KMP Group SG Formula could have done without the mechanical problems and collisions that dogged Anton Nebylitskiy and Jules Bianchi, as Stephane Guerin told us. "Unfortunately, we fell short of our objective, which was for cars and drivers to complete a maximum number of laps. On the plus side, it was a considerable achievement just getting everything up and running in a fortnight without interfering with our other activities. You have to remember that the schedule for the Formula Renault 2.0 WEC competition, for which we recruited extra staff and set up new workshops, has a 5-month hole in it between June 9th and the start of November. During that period six of our people only have one meeting to take part in. So we had some staff under-occupied. It would have been a shame to let go people with whom we were satisfied, especially as SG Formula prides itself on training young mechanics and engineers. It's part of our vocation."
Jules Bianchi and Anton Nebylitskiy knew nothing about the Monaco circuit until they took to the tarmac for 45 minutes of open practice at the start of the meeting. Unfortunately, Jules was not destined to learn a lot more as he had to drop out after 7 laps due to a clutch problem. Anton managed to double that lap total before losing an argument with a crash barrier. After so little practice the boys logically enough found themselves at the back of the grid after qualifying. The Russian was in 24th place and the Frenchman, dogged by a sticky gearbox, was in 26th place. The race took part just a few hours ahead of the 67th Monaco Grand Prix. Starting from the pits was bad enough but Jules hit the rails in Lap 17 at the Piscine turn. Anton, on the other hand, crossed the finishing line in 20th position after lapping at 1'28''420, which was a lot quicker than in qualifying and only five-tenths of a second off the race winner's best time.
"Against all the odds we made it to Monaco. Sadly we met with a few technical problems, not to mention a couple of crash barriers!" concluded Stephane Guerin. "There was always a risk we'd hit this kind of problem. It's OK, we took it on the chin and now we'll be focused on the job ahead. I'm not overly worried. With the cars now safely back in La Rochelle we'll be preparing calmly for Budapest in mid-June. Just as we did in Monaco, we'll be entering an experienced and rapid driver alongside Anton."