Mehri gains the upper hand The day of reckoning draws near! At the Paul Ricard HTTT, it was again the same group of drivers who came to the fore. This time it was the Spaniard Roberto Mehri (Epsilon Euskadi) who was quickest ahead of Valterri...
Mehri gains the upper hand
The day of reckoning draws near! At the Paul Ricard HTTT, it was again the same group of drivers who came to the fore. This time it was the Spaniard Roberto Mehri (Epsilon Euskadi) who was quickest ahead of Valterri Bottas (Motorpark Arena), Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula), Tobias Hegewald (Motorpark Arena) and Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula). The competition is definitely looking like it will be tight this season!
Over the last two days, the Paul Ricard HTTT has been hosting the penultimate session of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 collective testing before the 2008 season gets underway at Spa-Francorchamps on the first weekend in May.
On Sunday morning, the conditions were perfect, allowing everyone to go about their business calmly. The drivers took their chance to get plenty of laps under their belt, with the keenest out there being Mathieu Arzeno (Epsilon Sport) who completed no less than 52 laps. As is often the case though, it all came down to what happened at the end of the session. The Finn Valtteri Bottas (Motorpark Arena) distinguished himself by setting the fastest time, ahead of his teammate Tobias Hegewald. The two Motorpark Arena drivers placed ahead of three men who are definitely becoming regulars at the top of the standings: Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula), Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula) and Roberto Mehri (Epsilon Euskadi).
In the afternoon the Paul Ricard HTTT was drenched by a downpour the likes of which you are only ever likely to see in Provence. The conditions were so extreme that is was impossible or near-impossible to have any idea what was going on on track. The session was halted at 4pm, with the track wallowing in water. Despite all this, Daniel Zampieri (BVM Minardi Team) still managed to set the fastest time of the session, with only seven laps to his name, ahead of Richard Singleton (Hitech Junior Team) and Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi).
On Monday morning, the fine weather was back. Though the track was still slightly damp as the session got underway, the whole field very quickly opted to move onto slick tyres. Performances just kept on getting better as a result. The time to beat of 2'07''691, set by Bottas on Sunday morning, was soon improved upon. It was none other than his teammate Tobias Hegewald who was leading the charge. Bottas quickly regained the upper hand, confirming his excellent current form. Everything then hotted up just before the break. Roberto Mehri took control with a lap in 2'06''403. This left Bottas in second, ahead of Singleton and Hegewald. In the closing minutes, Daniel Ricciardo managed to slot into third ahead of these last two.
Once again, everyone made the most of the afternoon session to get in as much track time as possible. Bottas and Hegewald were once again monopolizing the two lead positions. Initially, the German Tobias Hegewald was spearheading proceedings with Bottas having suffered a broken suspension at the start of the session. But once his car had been repaired, Bottas reasserted his supremacy. At the end of the day the fresh rubber was brought out to go after the fastest time set in the morning by Roberto Mehri.
Valtteri Bottas was the first to better this time, with a lap in 2'06''105. The Finn must have thought he'd accomplished a master stroke but Roberto Mehri was not giving up so easily. He put in a perfect lap to regain the fastest time. With a lap in 2'05''961, Mehri thus posted the best performance of these two days of testing, ahead of Bottas, Caldarelli, Hegewald, Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne (SG Formula).