Can you handle the Raidillon?! The opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season in Barcelona was packed full of surprises and incidents. In Spain, Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) mastered the elements to pull off a clean ...
Can you handle the Raidillon?!
The opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season in Barcelona was packed full of surprises and incidents. In Spain, Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing) mastered the elements to pull off a clean sweep. Spa-Francorchamps will be a different story all together! Plenty of drivers will be looking to bounce back on one of the world's most testing racetracks.
Much was expected from the Catalan drivers Miguel Molina (Ultimate Motorsport) and Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport), or from the supposed favourites, Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing), James Walker (P1 Motorsport), Marco Barba (International Draco Racing) and Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing), but in the end, it was Marcos Martinez who dominated the season's opening weekend. The man from Madrid took full advantage of the reverse grid on Saturday to run away with race one. On Sunday, two-time World Motorbike Champion, Sito Pons' team got their tactics spot-on, in opting to put on wet weather tyres at just the right moment, meaning that Marcos Martinez and Pons Racing started the year with two wins. Marcos Martinez therefore comes to Spa-Francorchamps on May 2-3 as leader of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Clearly, he'll be the man to beat! A new status that he will need to learn how to handle.
Epsilon Euskadi also made a great start to the season with both of their drivers on the podium, Adrian Valles on Saturday and Chris Van der Drift on Sunday. Joan Villadelprat's team heads the teams' standings, and Valles and Van der Drift lie second and third in the drivers' championship. Like Pons Racing, Epsilon Euskadi is back on form after a disappointing 2008. Clearly last season's results have boosted both teams' motivation for 2009. However, there's a hint of revenge floating around the Formula Renault 3.5 Series paddock. Charles Pic, Miguel Molina and James Walker cannot afford to wait to put things right. These three title hopefuls simply must win if they are to stay in the title race. To do that, they'll need to tame the seven kilometre-long Spa-Francorchamps track and negotiate the Raidillon-Eau Rouge combination, plus the Pouhon, Stavelot and Blanchimont corners perfectly. Nothing can be left to chance if you want to win on this spectacular and highly technical track!
Belgian driver Bertrand Baguette knows the track like the back of his hand. He can expect to be cheered on again by a big crowd, who spurred him on to victory here last year. Bertrand Baguette would dearly love to produce a repeat performance and move up the overall standings. Teams will also need to keep an eye on the weather, because the Belgian Ardennes can produce its fair share of surprises. Runner-up in the 'rain in Spain', Sten Pentus (Mofaz Fortec Motorsport) must be secretly hoping for more of the same in Belgium. Last but not least, the Rookies also have a lot to prove at this first decisive meeting of the year. Jaime Alguersuari, Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) and Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing) have already crossed swords at Spa in F3 last season, where Turvey and Hartley won a race apiece. Spa is also one of the few tracks on the WSR calendar with which Greg Mansell (Ultimate Motorsport) is already familiar. Nigel Mansell's son will therefore be determined to do well at a track on which his famous father only managed one Formula 1 win in 1986.