207 SPIDER CUP - A FRENCHMAN ON TOP PRIOR TO PAU The 207 Spider Cup is Peugeot Sport's latest European single-make series and features an international field of drivers representing five different countries. The majority of the rounds serve as...
207 SPIDER CUP - A FRENCHMAN ON TOP PRIOR TO PAU
The 207 Spider Cup is Peugeot Sport's latest European single-make series and features an international field of drivers representing five different countries. The majority of the rounds serve as curtain-raiser to the Le Mans Series races in which the 908 HDi FAPs is competing this year. However, the 207 Spider Cup's calendar also includes two prestige fixtures in France and the series will share the bill of this weekend's WTCC meeting at Pau. The points table is currently topped by Frenchman Gregory Guilvert, although the Frenchman knows he can expect stiff opposition in the first of his two home rounds.
The 207 Spider Cup forms the backbone of Peugeot Sport's 2007 single-make programme and has already made a big impact in parallel to the firm's official campaign with the 908 HDi FAP. Indeed, this year's 207 Spider Cup champion will win the chance to test drive the 908.
The 207 Spider's looks echo those of the LMP1 and LMP2 category machines and the new car complies technically with the ACO's regulations, notably with regard to its rollover protection. The barquette's rear end features a short, wingless engine cover and is redolent of the sports-prototype cars of the 1970s. It is powered by the new 1.6-litre THP engine which has been developed in collaboration with the BMW Group and which is mated to a six-speed paddle-shift sequential gearbox. To keep the costs of competing to a minimum, all four corners of the car's suspensions are identical with interchangeable parts, while the engine , turbo and wastegate are all sealed.
The entry for the inaugural 207 Spider Cup is particularly strong with the French contingent joined by three Germans, two Spaniards, a brace of Belgians and a Briton. The total field features 18 cars, a highly promising figure for this new series which is looking forward to ever bigger grids between now and next season. The four races to date in Italy (two races at Monza) and Spain (two races at Valencia) have produced as many different winners, a score that underlines the quality of the scrap for top honours. Maxime Dubrulle, the 2006 Junior 206 RCC Cup Champion, claimed the opening race, while the second was won by former works Peugeot Sport Supertourisme driver Gregory Guilvert. In Spain, it was the turn of Julien Briche (who made a name for himself with a great drive in the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours) and Julien Schell (2002 French Formula Ford Champion and 2001 German Champion) to top the podium. Other top-three finishers and challengers for outright victory include the 2006 RC CUP Champ Dino Lunardi, ex-Formula Renault campaigner Thomas Accary and Benoît Lison.
Also very much in contention is the loyal Marcel Sciabbarrasi, while the best-placed non- French finisher to date is Belgian youngster Maxime Soulet who gave a glimpse of his potential by finishing on the podium of the second race at Valencia.
The French runners clearly start as favourites for the specific challenge of Pau's streets which the y know like the back of their hand. That promises to be a decisive advantage, but the competition from their European rivals can never be underrated and the likes of Briton Simon Moulton, Germans Jan Erik Slooten and Oliver Freymuth, Belgium's Stephane Lemeret (who has also previously raced at Pau in the RC CUP) and Spaniards Oscar Sanchez and Alvaro Espinosa Gonzalez will all be looking to make a name for themselves this weekend. The latter currently figures as the best-placed non-French driver in 8th position, just ahead of leading lady Marlène Broggi from France who came 5th in the second race at Monza. The field's other lady driver is Germany's Kati Droste.