EU Megane: Bilbao preview

Street fighting The sight of a thirty-three strong field of Mégane Trophy cars on the streets of Bilbao is an eagerly awaited image and one that will turn to reality this weekend with the third round of the Eurocup. Jan Heylen (Racing for ...

Street fighting

The sight of a thirty-three strong field of Mégane Trophy cars on the streets of Bilbao is an eagerly awaited image and one that will turn to reality this weekend with the third round of the Eurocup. Jan Heylen (Racing for Belgium) and Renaud Derlot (TP Compétition), the two drivers who have dominated proceedings since the start of the season, will be faced with opponents who will be determined not to be left in their wake.

Separated by only four points, Jan Heylen and Renaud Derlot have taken control of proceedings after the first four races of the season. Three-time winner Heylen is full of confidence and is well supported by the impeccable work of his team, Racing for Belgium.

But the consistency of Derlot, who has been among the first three in every race, has enabled his team, TP Compétition, to earn its stripes as the top team. The two former Formula 3 drivers have all but forgotten about their rivals, who are around twenty points adrift.

Jeffrey Van Hooydonk, a F3000 convert, is the best placed to fight it out with the two leaders. With two runner-up spots, the Thierry Boutsen Racing driver has often been short on success, but he is always involved at the front when nothing prevents him from making progress. The same could be said of Ludovic Badey. The lone Pouchelon Racing driver has twice finished in the top three, but he has also been forced to abandon on two occasions.

Unlucky in Valencia, Cesar Campaniço (Racing for Belgium) and Jean-Christophe Ravier (Epsilon Euskadi) picked up a lot of points at Le Mans, which means that they can get involved in the scrap for a top 5 place. They should be joined shortly in the fight by Nicola Gianniberti (Oregon Team), Simon Abadie (Tech 1 Racing), Frédéric Gabillon (Team Lompech Sport), Renaud Kuppens (Thierry Boutsen Racing) and Bernhard Ten Brinke (Equipe Verschuur).

Like Antonio Aristi, Jean-Christophe Ravier drives for the Basque team Epsilon Euskadi, the only team to be involved in all three World Series by Renault championships. Local colours will also be defended by Rafael Unzurrunzaga (Blue Jumeirah Team), the "gentleman driver" from San Sebastían.

Seven other Spanish drivers will be lining up for the event. Short of success since Valencia, Luis Miguel Reyes (Team Elias) will want to return to form by climbing onto the podium, and if possible onto the top step! The winner of the 2003 Supercopa Leon will line up alongside Angel Burgueño, who narrowly missed out on a place on the podium in Valencia, finishing fourth in the first race.

Although still learning about saloon car racing, Santiago Porteiro (Porfesa Competicion) seems more and more comfortable in the Mégane. He should soon be capable of fighting for a place on the podium. Juan Morales (Hervas Racing), Victor Fernandes Roca and Luis Llobet (Saturn Motorsport) will continue to enjoy themselves behind the wheel of their superb Mégane Trophy.

The battle in the Junior championship is turning out to be closely fought as well as being of a very high standard. The young drivers have no hesitation in mixing it with the leaders: Pedro Petiz (Oregon Team) has managed to get onto the front row of the grid, while Mathieu Lahaye (Tech 1 Racing) recorded the fastest race lap at Le Mans. For the moment, it's Mike Parisy (Gemo Sport) who leads by two points, ahead of Sébastien Dhouailly (Team Lompech Sport). The consistent Marc Benz (Iris Racing) lies in third place, in front of Petiz, Lahaye and Janak, who returned to racing at Le Mans.

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Thierry Boutsen , Jan Heylen , Cesar Campanico , Renaud Derlot , Jean-Christophe Ravier , Ludovic Badey , Antonio Aristi , Nicola Gianniberti , Simon Abadie , Renaud Kuppens , Luis Miguel Reyes , Marc Benz , Pedro Petiz , Frédéric Gabillon , Matthieu Lahaye , Mike Parisy