A podium and the championship lead! The Tech 1 Racing team has backed up its promising pace in pre-season testing with some top results at the first race meeting of the year. Thanks to a second place and a fourth place at the two Monza ...
A podium and the championship lead!
The Tech 1 Racing team has backed up its promising pace in pre-season testing with some top results at the first race meeting of the year. Thanks to a second place and a fourth place at the two Monza races, Alvaro Parente heads home from Italy in the lead of the championship. His team mate -- rookie driver Julien Jousse -- was just as impressive, scoring his first points.
The 2007 World Series season got underway last week at the legendary Monza circuit in Italy. It was a race that the Tech 1 team faced with some trepidation, as it had zero experience of the Formula Renault 3.5 car on this track. Luckily, the free practice sessions on Thursday enabled the Toulouse-based team to catch up the opposition slightly. Alvaro and Julien ended the day with 3 rd and 8th places respectively. Their pace was confirmed during the short free practice session on Friday morning: Julien caused a sensation by setting fastest time ahead of Alvaro. For the first time ever, cars number 31 and 32 occupied the top two places on the timesheets!
On Saturday morning, the really hard work began with qualifying. Alvaro was right on the pace in the first group, setting a time that was third-fastest; just 118 thousandths of a second off pole position. In the other group, Julien was even more impressive -- setting second-fastest time! But shortly after the session the Frenchman was hit by a time penalty that dropped him to the back of the grid, for failing to slow down sufficiently under yellow flags. Nonetheless, Julien was still upbeat: "I made a mistake and that's a shame, but I have to take responsibility for it and just get on with things" he said. "I'm going to try to get back up the field during the race."
Race one took place on Saturday afternoon, and it was set to be one of the most thrilling encounters of the entire World Series. Alvaro got off to an average start, but climbed back to 2nd with a third of the race gone. In the meantime, Julien was scything through the pack: having started 29th he was already up to 19th by lap three! His charge was halted about halfway through the race when he had to pit to change his nosecone, following some contact with another competitor. When Julien got going again, he had the bit between his teeth and set the fastest lap of the race. Alvaro had closed up to the leader, Aleshin, and tried to put some pressure on the Russian in the closing stages. Unfortunately Alvaro made a small mistake that forced him to settle for second place -- and score Tech 1 Racing's first podium on the World Series!
The following day, a reverse grid for the top 10 finishers of race one meant that Alvaro started from the 5th row. Julien was on the 8th row, having finished 16th the day before. Although Alvaro suffered from a badly-handling car after one of the aerodynamic elements was damaged against a kerb during the opening laps, he drove a sensible race to pick his way past the traffic and finish 4th overall. Julien once more demonstrated his raw speed by climbing up to 7th place at the finish.
Tech 1 Racing put in a virtuoso performance in Monza, heading home to Toulouse second in the teams' championship behind Carlin Motorsport. At the end of the weekend, team boss Simon Abadie said: "My only regret -- if I were forced to chose one -- would be that we did not win a race this weekend. But I'm very pleased that we could fight on equal terms with Carlin, which is a top team and a reference point for us. Had Julien not been forced to start from the back of the grid on Saturday I think he could have won, as he was simply on top of his game. Alvaro drove two fantastic races, just as we expected of him. This allows him to lead the drivers' championship so it's mission accomplished for us. The team worked very well to develop the cars throughout the weekend, but we can't rest on our laurels yet. That first win is still in front of us!"
-credit: tech 1 racing