Monza was the circuit where the Eurocup Formula Renault V6 disputed its last round of the first season of this series, created and supported by Renault. The driver that will remain in the history of the category as the first champion is now...
Monza was the circuit where the Eurocup Formula Renault V6 disputed its last round of the first season of this series, created and supported by Renault. The driver that will remain in the history of the category as the first champion is now decided: José María ¨Pechito¨ López.
The Argentinian arrived to this last doble round as the big candidate to earn the championship with 32 units over the French Tristan Gommendy. López needed at least 20 points in the first race disputed on saturday, to secure the championship in his hands before the last race of sunday.
¨Pechito¨ took the definition process very calmly, his usual attitude every race weekend.
In the practice day, López and the team DAMS showed that they had no intention of waste the time. Never better said. The Argentinian led the times of Thursday`s session.
However on Friday, the qualifying moment became a little complicated. A crash got the things more difficult for the Argentinian, and he qualified third and fourth, something unusual for him, as he took eight pole positions this season.
López started the race on saturday knowing very well what he must do to get his aspirations. José María raced using his head and helped by the team DAMS, that decided to call López to the pits in the right moment, arrived to a good result. Because the third final position wasn`t something great was all the Argentinian needed to get his second championship in two years. López shown his maturity in a race car and got what he wanted so much.
¨The race happened very well. I was worried after yesterday`s crash. My start was good but I did not take any risk and I did not try to pass Gommendy. I had a few problems with other cars and lost 2 places but the car was good and I could recover quickly¨, stated the champion after the podium.
¨The team reacted very well when the safety car went out, they sent me in the pits and when I got back on the track I was third. Then I had just to keep position as I knew it would bring enough points for the Championship¨, added the 20-year-old driver.
No doubt that López is leaving the best moment of his carreer. After the 2002 championship in the Italian Formula Renault, José María received the support of Renault F1 and FB Business (more clear, Flavio Briatore). In the Eurocup FRV6 and in a team like DAMS, ¨Pechito¨ knew he must fight for the championship, but the firsts races weren`t good for his aspirations: ¨I am so happy, the season has been very long, the beginning was difficult. After Magny Cours Jani was 60 points ahead of me, I was not very optimistic. But we never gave up, the team has always trusted me. From Monaco, things started to go better, then we had a fantastic summer, we were in a dominant position every week end and this helped me to score a lot of points. The team is fantastic and I want to thank everybody at DAMS for their job, they are top professionals", explained López about the some difficult times.
With the end of the season, the numbers for ¨Pechito¨ López are fantastic: In 14 races, 12 podiums, five wins and eight poles.
Jean-Paul Driot, team director, had also things to say in name of DAMS: ¨We never had any doubt. José María is a very good race driver. He has everything of a great champion and this season has been one of the best we ever had, I with a great career for him¨, concluded one of the heads of team DAMS.
After the happiness of Saturday López, had to take part in the season close of the year.
Sunday`s competition wasn't for ¨Pechito¨ and his team the best way of finish a great tournament like 2003 was.
López started fourth and quickly felt the setup problems on his machine. He lost ground to sixth place when, from nowhere, his engine failed six laps before the chequered flag finished the race for the 2003 champion.
Neel Jani won both races of the weekend and finished second the standigs.
Now López has his mind in what is about to come. ¨Pechito¨¨ will go to England to make training work with all the Renault F1 team included the drivers Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli.
With two championships in two years the future for López is brilliand, always supported by Renault and FB Business. They must decide which is the next step for the Argentinian.
F1? Just wait.