NEC: Series Zandvoort preview

It is on to Zandvoort for the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 The Zandvoort circuit with its long motor racing tradition is the venue for the second race weekend of the 2008 Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 (NEC FR 2.0).

It is on to Zandvoort for the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0

The Zandvoort circuit with its long motor racing tradition is the venue for the second race weekend of the 2008 Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 (NEC FR 2.0). Beautifully located in the well-known Dutch seaside resort, Zandvoort has always been a popular venue among teams and drivers. In fact, this weekend's "Jubileumraces" event marks the 60th anniversary of the race track in the dunes and the NEC FR 2.0 is there to join in the celebrations and to provide some fascinating single-seater action in the best Zandvoort tradition.

Any red-blooded motor race fan in the world will have heard of the Zandvoort circuit, the facility that was opened in 1948 and hosted the Dutch Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1950 till 1985. Famous drivers like Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost have won races here. The late, great Gilles Villeneuve, never prepared to give up, famously thrilled the crowd by completing almost an entire lap with a burst tyre in the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix. Another classic was the battle between Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost in the 1983 Dutch Grand Prix, in which Prost with the Renault finally made the move on Piquet under braking for the circuit's trademark 180 degree Tarzan corner, sending the Brazilian off into the gravel trap. The evidence can still be found on YouTube.

It is the circuit's long history that will be celebrated this weekend with a display and a parade of race cars from the circuit into Zandvoort's historic city centre. Of course, there is modern racing action, too, with the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 featuring as the major contemporary single-seater series with the most powerful cars and the largest entry. In the two rounds held during the Hockenheim season opener, Valtteri Bottas from Finland clearly dominated, but especially the Dutch teams and drivers are eager to do well in their home round. With seven drivers and three teams coming from The Netherlands, the Dutch fraction is well represented in the NEC field.

NEC FR 2.0 action at Zandvoort starts on Friday with a free practice from 12.00 till 11.40 h. Qualifying takes place on Saturday from 11.40 till 12.30 h in two heats, separated by a 10 minutes' break. The first race starts on Sunday at 10.40 h, the second race is on Sunday at 16.35 h. The two races are running over a duration of 25 minutes each. TV-footage can be watched on the Internet via www.raceworld.tv

Q & A with Valtteri Bottas, points leader in the NEC FR 2.0

You were being considered as the pre-season title favourite. Does that put you under pressure?

To be honest, not really. I feel quite relaxed and the way things were going at Hockenheim proves me right. Whether that is typically Scandinavian, I don't know, but I never let pressure get too high on me.

You confirmed your status as a favourite with two commanding victories during the season opener at Hockenheim. Was it as easy as it looked from the outside?

In fact, it was quite easy for me indeed. When the car is good and the driver is good as well, it can be easy. I didn't make any mistakes and it all went well.

For this season, you changed from the Finnish Koirainen-team to race for the German Motopark Academy outfit. What were the reasons for this move?

After the first few races of last year, Timo Rumpfkeil, who runs the Motopark Academy team, started to call me asking whether I wanted to test with them. We decided to do the Barcelona test after the season with Motopark Academy and that went very well, so I did a deal to do both the Eurocup and the NEC with them.

Have you noticed any particular differences between the two teams?

At Motopark Academy, there are more people and the organisation is more professional. Every driver has two mechanics and his own engineer and there is a lot of experience within the team.

Now, it is on to Zandvoort for the second meeting of the season. What do you expect from this weekend?

Of course, it would be nice to repeat my success from Hockenheim. I quite like the circuit, it is the place where I had my first single-seater race. It has a couple of challenging corners and at some places, the walls are quite close, so you can't make any mistakes. The fast corners at the back of the track are the decisive part, this is where you can make the difference.

-credit: nec

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Alberto Ascari , Jim Clark , Niki Lauda , Alain Prost , Gilles Villeneuve , Nelson Piquet , Juan Manuel Fangio , Stirling Moss , Valtteri Bottas