Pieces of eight SG Formula, the team with a treasure trove of 42 podiums and 5 titles to its name in 2008, eyes its sixth season in Formula Renault 2.0 racing with the firm intention of retaining the West European Cup crown it won last season...
Pieces of eight
SG Formula, the team with a treasure trove of 42 podiums and 5 titles to its name in 2008, eyes its sixth season in Formula Renault 2.0 racing with the firm intention of retaining the West European Cup crown it won last season and adding the Eurocup to its trophy cabinet in La Rochelle. Following an exciting revamp of its organisation, the team will be entering eight single-seater cars with Jean-Eric Vergne, Miki Monras, Arthur Pic, Hugo Valente, Dominic Storey, Julien Abelli, Kevin Breysse and Ramez Azzam at the wheel. The objectives for the new season are the same as the last - to nurture young talent and to win as many championships and races as possible!
SG Formula's line up will comprise 8 young drivers aged between 16 and 21, of which 3 were in last season's group. Three of the drivers are rookies, the rest already have some experience of the category. Five of the drivers (Storey, Valente, Pic, Monras, Vergne) will give priority to the Eurocup while the other three (Azzam, Breysse et Abelli) concentrate mainly on the West European Cup.
Which brings us to the organisational changes SG Formula is introducing to its FR2.0 set up. The team has decided to create an additional facility to house its WEC program. The new workshop is located right next to the Ile de Re bridge, close by the head offices which house the Eurocup and Formula 3 Euro Series branches.
"We are expanding, which gives us the option to pursue other objectives in the future," said team-manager Stephane Guerin. "But as before, we'll have a single structure to manage all our Formula Renault 2.0 activity. Yannick Hubert is in charge of operations. He'll be leading a team of four full- time engineers, so all the cars will benefit from the same preparation and setup methods. Having a shadow organisation for the West European Cup allows us to cater for drivers such as Kevin Breysse and Julien Abelli, who have insufficient funds to race in both the WEC and the Eurocup. We want to demonstrate that it's possible to go for the WEC title without having to take part in all the Eurocup races as well, in much the same way as we did with Jules Bianchi in 2007. The new rules allow WEC drivers to practice freely on one test circuit, which is an excellent decision on the part of the organisers. So we selected Val de Vienne, which is the logical choice for us. Practice sessions can offset the fact that the drivers get less competition than they otherwise would if they were to race in both series."
Stephane Guerin introduces his 2009 driving team: "This year we'll be looking to Jean-Eric Vergne to live up to expectations and confirm his talent. He has done a fine first season and he's a hard-working individual who will be looking to take the Eurocup crown. We got a head start with Miki Monras by running him in the second half of 2008. He demonstrated that he's a born competitor, very fast during qualifying. His tender years mean he's perhaps a bit short of being considered a genuine title contender but if he learns quickly than he too can be in the running. Dominic Storey is a virtual rookie. He's only had two starts in a year. They were both at Estoril, where we had the chance to get a good look at him. We could already see that he is full of potential as far as raw speed is concerned but he needs time to mature. I'd expect him to be top-notch by mid-season. Arthur Pic did some very good test laps. He's quite capable to fight in the top 5 of the Eurocup this year, which would be a fine performance in his first season. Last year in the Formul'Academy Euro Series he was quickly attributed the favourite's mantle but he handled the pressure well and constantly raised his game. At just 16, Hugo Valente is the youngest member of our team. I witnessed his first win at Le Mans and I know too that he's had a raft of technical problems to contend with. It takes time to learn, you can't get to know everything at the click of a finger! We are going with Ramez Azzam for a second season, hoping to capitalise on the experience gained last year. The results were beginning to show during the winter. We worked out a special programme for him to fit in with his studies in Dubai, taking into account his travelling and acclimatisation needs. He will be concentrating on the WEC, hoping to pull off breakaway sprints much as a cycling ace would. Kevin Breysse had a good first season in Formula BMW. Bearing in mind that his team started entirely from scratch with two drivers who had no experience whatsoever in the category, the results were flattering. He did a test drive for us in 2007 and was impressive. Lastly we have Julien Abelli, a hidden talent who came to the sport in an unusual way. We did some set up work for his team in 2008, and Julien and our engineer Yannick Hubert hit it off. He surprised us all this winter with the progress he has made. He's our joker for the season, watch out for him!"
Rendez-vous next April 12-13 in Nogaro for the opening rounds of the West European Cup, and in Barcelona the following week for both WEC and Eurocup rounds, on the same bill as the World Series by Renault.
-Jean-Eric Vergne (F), 18 years old, Eurocup + WEC program, SG Formula driver in 2008, 2008 WEC Rookie champion and French champion, Red Bull Junior Team member
-Miki Monras (E), 17 years old, Eurocup + WEC program, SG Formula driver in 2008, 2006 Karting Junior European champion
-Dominic Storey (NZ), 19 years old, Eurocup + WEC program
-Arthur Pic (F), 17 years old, Eurocup + WEC program, Rookie, 2008 Formul'Academy Euro Series champion
-Hugo Valente (F), 16 years old, Eurocup + WEC program, Rookie
-Julien Abelli (F), 21 years old, WEC program
-Ramez Azzam (UAE), 17 years old, WEC program, SG Formula driver in 2008
-Kevin Breysse (F), 19 years old, WEC program, Rookie
The objectives for the new season are the same as the last - to nurture young talent and to win as many championships and races as possible!