EU V6/2000: Donington pre-race notes

After a break of nearly a month, the sixth round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the teams and drivers head over the English Channel to the British circuit of Donington Park, in the Midlands. A popular circuit with everyone...

After a break of nearly a month, the sixth round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the teams and drivers head over the English Channel to the British circuit of Donington Park, in the Midlands. A popular circuit with everyone involved, the multi-platform series has raced there in both 2002 and 2003. The historic circuit, dating back to after the Second World War, is 4.023 km long. Located next to the Nottingham-East Midlands airport, it has a finely balanced combination of fast, challenging corners and a slow, technical hairpin section, meaning that the car set-up is crucial.

With three British drivers in the top ten of the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, including points leader Ryan Sharp, Donington will certainly be an important event. Neel Jani of Switzerland dominated the previous round in Brno, with two wins as well as both pole positions and fastest laps - a unique feat in the history of the Eurocup. This excellent result has brought Jani up to fourth in the points, only 38 points behind current leader Sharp. Robert Bell is lying fifth, with the third of the British trio, Robbie Kerr, in eighth place.

Other races this weekend include two rounds each of the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup, the Ferrari Challenge and the British F3 Championship.


Andy Priaulx, 30 years old, made a very good impression in his first season in the FIA ETCC, when he managed to win three championship rounds in Brno, Spa and Oschersleben, fighting for the European crown till the last race in Monza. Eventually he was classified third, seven points behind Tarquini. This year, only halfway through the season, the Briton has already matched that score, with wins in Magny-Cours, Hockenheim and Brno (the only driver with three victories so far); he is currently second in the Drivers' Championship, with a four-point gap from Dirk Muller.

"Donington is a great circuit! You always see exciting Touring Car races there.The key to success is braking. If you have a good set-up, and the car is balanced under braking, then you have nearly eveything you need in Donington. The tyres wear is not worse than anywhere else.

I hope we have a sunny weekend, because if it rains, the track becomes very slippery, due to the kerosene left by the aircraft landing and taking off at the East Midlands airport. Redgate corner, at the end of the main straight, is not a problem. Even at the start, when the whole field is still packed, everybody finds a way to pass. Problems start downhill at the Craner curves. This is one of the most difficult corners to do in a touring car. With single seater is not a problem, but with a saloon, wow! I think that everybody enjoys that, especially during the first lap, on cold tyres-- If you make a mistake there, you have good chances to go off at the following corner, the Old hairpin.

But if you do it right, then you have the momentum to go uphill towards McLean's, even if you have ballast on board.

The most important part comes at the end of the Starkey's straight: the chicane, the Melbourne hairpin and Goddards. Here is where you can make it or lose it. And that is where the handicap weight really hurts."

Circuit length : 4023 m
Location : 15 km southwest of Nottingham

Directions : from London, take the M1 Motorway northbound for Nottingham; exit at junction 24 A for Derby - A6; follow signs to the Nottingham-East Midlands airport. The track is on the right, just after the airport.

Neel Jani's performance in Brno was truly exceptional, even if the Swiss driver did benefit from Mondini's retirement during race 1. Neel Jani, still looking for his first win of the year when he arrived in the Czech Republic, proceeded to score a 'Grand Slam' -- a real exploit that no-one had, until then, managed in Formula Renault V6. Within the same meeting, he set two pole positions, claimed both wins while setting the two fastest laps. This had never happened in 2003, although he had come very close to this impressive feat at Monza, during the last round of the season. On that occasion, Jani had won both races after setting pole position, but had missed out on the fastest lap during race one. Mondini could have achieved the same feat during Magny-Cours, earlier this year, but during the second, rain-interrupted race, which was stopped due to the flooded and dangerous race, it was Campanico who set the best time.

Currently fifth in the overall classification, Robert Bell, from Newcastle, intends to take full advantage of his good knowledge of Donington to close up on the leaders. "I like the circuit," he explained. "Of course, for all the British drivers, this sixth event is slightly different. We are all even more keen than usual to do well. Quite honestly, I think that the title fight is far from over. There must be ten of us who still believe in their hopes, as there are still ten races to be run, and plenty of points available," he explained. "As for me, I am relaxed. Of course, this weekend, both the team and myself will be busier than usual, as far as the media and sponsors are concerned. But there will be no pressure, and no haste. It will be essential to qualify well. We have to work hard during the single hour of free practice that we have at Donington."

It is not easy to work out how many different nationalities are represented within the FR V6 paddock. Looking at the Magny-Cours entry list, for example, 13 different countries are entered. The EuroInternational team definitely lives up to its name : although Mondini was born in Italy, he spends much of his time in Switzerland, and describes himself as Italo-Swiss, while his team-mate, Stefano Proetto, is Italian but grew up in Germany. "He is half and half," his father explained. "But his German is better than is Italian, and our sponsors are mainly from Germany."

Scott Speed (Motopark Academy) gave a real demonstration at the Brno circuit. The young American driver took the lead of the Championship after two excellent wins; he now leads Pagenaud in the overall classification by 12 points.

Despite his problems in Spain (excluded from race 2 due to a non-conform car), Speed has not taken long to find his bearings and the way to the top of the podium. He re-launched his season at Magny-Cours with third place in the second race, and since then, he has followed victory with victory. The American, who had already impressed over the winter, is continuing to progress, with only French driver Pagenaud able to follow him -- at least in the classification. The latter is the only of the leading drivers to have scored points in every race. Behind this leading duo, three other drivers watch and wait : Kochem, Kofler and Maldonado, who are far from giving up.


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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Robbie Kerr , Scott Speed , Neel Jani , Ryan Sharp