It's now or never.. Top 10 finishers in the 2005 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Carlo Van Dam (SG Formula), Filipe Alburquerque (Motopark Academy), Adrian Zaugg (Cram CompÃƒÂ©tition), Junior Strous (Jenzer Motorsport), Bertrand Baguette (Epsilon...
It's now or never..
Top 10 finishers in the 2005 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Carlo Van Dam (SG Formula), Filipe Alburquerque (Motopark Academy), Adrian Zaugg (Cram CompÃ©tition), Junior Strous (Jenzer Motorsport), Bertrand Baguette (Epsilon Euskadi) and Xavier Maasen (JD Motorsport) will all need to make full use of their experience if they are to win the 2006 title. But a new generation of drivers from the world of karting may well crash the party.
With thirty-five cars entered and seventeen nationalities represented, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 field looks all set for another dramatic, action-packed season. Although the top three drivers from 2005 -- Kobayashi, AmmermÃ¼ller and Clairay -- have all moved onto to pastures new, their rivals have decided to give it another go.
Only one of the top 10 drivers from 2005 who are in the starting line-up again this year has a victory to his name. South African Adrian Zaugg looked very comfortable in winning one of the races on the inner city circuit at Bilbao last year. Cram Competition's new recruit is blessed with the same attacking verve as his heroes, Mansell and Rosberg!
Carlo Van Dam consistently proved to be the quickest in winter testing. The Dutch driver opted for stability by staying with SG Formula, winners of the Team title in 2005. Very consistent last year, he must now convert his strong pre-season form into wins throughout Europe. Like Van Dam, Albuquerque, Baguette and Maasen have all opted for continuity by pursuing their careers with the same teams.
Junior Strous, on the other hand, has switched from his family outfit to one of the heavyweight teams, Jenzer Motorsport. After winning seven races but still losing out on the Team title in 2005, the Swiss team will be determined to make amends this year.
A few other drivers are back for another go in Eurocup and may well also muscle their way into the fight. Those to watch include Kasper Andersen (JD Motorsport), Atte Mustonen (Koiranen Bros), Tom Dillmann (SG Formula), Jonathan Edwards (Motopark Academy), Walter GrubmÃ¼ller (Team Jenzer) and Dani Clos (Jenzer Motorsport).
Despite this being only their first full season in the Eurocup, Jacky FerrÃ© (Epsilon Euskadi), Marco Frezza (Team Jenzer) and Oliver Campos (Twincam Motorsport) are already very familiar with the Formula Renault 2.0.
After taking the title with Kobayashi in 2005, Prema Power Team is playing the youth card this year drawing its line-up from the world of karting: Edoardo Mortara, Henkie Waldschmidt and Martin Plowman are three young drivers who already have impressive records to their names and who have proved themselves fully capable of mixing it with the best during winter testing.
True to its reputation for cultural diversity, the Eurocup has once again attracted drivers from many different backgrounds. Many will be keeping a close eye on the performances of the New Zealander Van der Drift, Bahrain driver Al Khalifa and the Italian Piscopo, all from Formula BMW. Another name to look out for is Jaime Alguersari Jr., a convert from Italian Formula Renault 1.6.
The Eurocup will this year feature two young women. Pippa Mann (Comtec Racing) and Rahel Frey (Jenzer) will undoubtedly be engaged their own private battle, as well as fighting it out with the rest of the field. Rahel previously competed in the Swiss FR2.0 championship where she was the first woman to win a Formula Renault 2.0 race.
In addition to Bertrand Baguette, there will be a second Belgian driver in the starting line-up. After racing for part of the 2005 season in World Series Formula Renault 3.5, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Vervisch returns to the World Series with the SL Formula Racing team.