NEC: Series Spa preview

Grand Final: Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 at Spa-Francorchamps The famous circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, beautifully located in the scenery of the Belgian Ardennes region, will be hosting the Northern European Cup Formula Renault...

Grand Final: Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 at Spa-Francorchamps

The famous circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, beautifully located in the scenery of the Belgian Ardennes region, will be hosting the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 for its final meeting of the 2008 season next weekend (October 3rd - 5th, 2008). Being able to race at the fast Grand Prix circuit with its long motor racing heritage is a dream for every driver and a nice way to round off the current season with the 15th and the 16th race of the year.

Of course, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas already wrapped up the title in the previous event at the Nurburgring, but that doesn't mean that there will not be some fierce racing action to be enjoyed in Spa-Francorchamps! Quite the contrary, because a famous adagium in motor racing says that "you are always as good as your last race", so all drivers will be quite determined to end their season on a high as a good way to head into the winter break. Bottas has reached its goal already, but with a maximum of 60 points still to be won this weekend, a tough battle is expected for runner- up spot in the points' standings. There are only 14 points between Motopark team-mates Antonio Felix da Costa and Tobias Hegewald, currently second and third, while Dane Johan Jokinen (Motopark Academy) and Van Amersfoort Racing's Stef Dusseldorp are only one point apart in fourth and fifth place respectively.

With a track length of over seven kilometres, the circuit of Spa- Francorchamps is one of the longest race tracks still in use for competition events. In the past, the track was even longer, but also in its current guise, the circuit has lost nothing of its appeal and fascination, not in the least because of its undulating character and famous corners like the La Source-hairpin, the ultra-fast Eau-Rouge corner, followed by the dazzling uphill Raidillion-part. The circuit of Spa-Francorchamps has been regularly hosting the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, but its annual calendar also includes highlights like the Spa 24 Hours, counting towards the FIA GT championship, and the 1,000 kilometre race, a round of the Le Mans Series.

On Friday, October 3rd, there will be two free practice sessions of 45 minutes each, from 11.20 till 12.05 and from 15.40 till 16.25 h. Qualifying will take place on Saturday morning from 9.00 till 9.50 h with two sessions of 20 minutes each deciding on the starting grid line-up for each of the two races. The first race will follow on Saturday at 14.05 h while the second race of the weekend, also the last one of the season, will get underway on Sunday at 11.45 h. Both races will be run over a duration of 25 minutes each. TV-footage can be watched on the Internet via Entry to the circuit is free.

Q & A with Daniel de Jong (MP Motorsport), who is in his debut season in the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 and will stay on for another year

Daniel, this is your very first season in motor racing. What has it been like for you so far?

The start was a little bit difficult: at Hockenheim, I was last on the grid, but the second race there already went better and from there on, I have been able to improve all the time. It is a step-by-step process as this really is a learning year for me, but I am quite happy with the way things are going.

How do you rate the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 as a learning category?

I did a test with MP Motorsport at Zandvoort last winter and that went pretty well, so we decided to go for Formula Renault right away and that has proven to be the right decision. You immediately learn how to cope with a race car that has slicks and wings and to handle all the data. I think that that is quite important.

What were the highs and lows of the season so far?

The high were my sixth places at Oschersleben and in the wet at Zolder. You may argue that at Oschersleben some of the Motopark drivers were missing due to the clashing Eurocup round, but at Zolder, we had a full grid and I was particularly pleased by doing so well there in the rain. The low point for me was the race at Assen, where I was really determined to do well in front of my home crowd, but I made some mistakes in the rain and spun a few times.

This weekend, Spa-Francorchamps will be the venue for the final rounds of the season. A dream for any driver.

Absolutely! We already did some testing there and the circuit is just great. I had heard so many stories about it, about the circuit being so fast and so on, but in reality, it is even better! Absolutely thrilling! We could use the data of Paul Meijer, who won the Eurocup round at Spa earlier this year, which was a great help as well. I hope to do well and to end the season with a good result, so that I keep a good feeling over the winter.

Can you already reveal something about your plans for next year?

I definitely want to stay in the category, together with MP Motorsport. We always knew that this year would be a learning year and next season, I want to benefit from that experience and aim for a result as good as possible.


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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Tobias Hegewald , Valtteri Bottas , Paul Meijer , Antonio Felix da Costa , Stef Dusseldorp
Teams MP Motorsport