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March 07, 2012
Renault 2.0 Eurocup: Vandoorne and Kvyat Set Testing Pace

Daniil Kvyat was among the drivers to watch during Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 testin in France (Photo: Renault)
Daniil Kvyat was among the drivers to watch during Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 testin in France
(Photo: Renault)

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 was the first of the four World Series by Renault categories to get down to pre-season collective testing, with 46 drivers gathering at Paul Ricard for a two-day event. It was the more experienced hands who showed the way, with Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) fastest on Tuesday (March 6) and Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) topping the timesheets on Wednesday (March 7).

Quality and quantity seem to be the hallmarks of this seasonís Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 field. After some hectic private testing through the winter months, the drivers and teams that will contest the 2012 championship finally came together for the first official collective testing sessions, spread over two days, and with no fewer than 46 FR 2.0s taking to the track at Paul Ricard.

With 10 drivers in all, France was the best-represented nation, followed by the UK, Netherlands, Brazil and Italy with four each. Following a brief preliminary lap, the field, comprising a fine blend of youth and experience, got down to business. First to make a mark were some of last seasonís outstanding performers, among them Alex Riberas (Josef Kauffmann Racing). Sixth overall in Eurocup FR 2.0 in 2011 and a winner of one race, the Spaniard went fastest in the morning, ahead of Red Bull Junior Teamís Kvyat, a two-time race winner and third overall last year, and Timmy Hansen (Interwetten.com Junior Team), who also topped the podium on one occasion last season.

Drivers and teams stuck to their task in the afternoon, the pace hotting up towards the end of the session as the first new tyres appeared. No more than a second separated first from 15th, as Vandoorne posted the dayís quickest lap of 2:03.922, just three tenths faster than Kvyat. Finishing a fine third was last seasonís Formula Renault 2.0 UK runner-up Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsport), a new boy to the category.

Rowland continued to impress the following morning, the 2011 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner posting a time of 2:03.764 to unseat Vandoorne at the top of the timesheets. Kvyat then took full advantage of the improving track temperatures to record a mid-session time of 2:03.499, the fastest on either day. Try as they might in the afternoon, the rest of the field could not better the Russian title challenger, who left Paul Ricard with a spring in his step, with Rowland, Oscar Andres Tunjo (Tech 1 Racing), Norman Nato (RC Formula) and Patrick Kujala (Koiranen Motorsport), the leading rookies over both days, completing Wednesdayís top-five.

"I want to win the title this season, so itís important for me to get in among the leaders and stay there," stated Kvyat. "Itís going to be a tight competition this year, and the key will be to maintain consistency and not make the slightest mistake. Iíll also need to score big points early on because thereíll be a lot of drivers whoíll get stronger as the season goes on."

"You canít really compare the times we did because we were all driving in different conditions at different times," added Vandoorne. "Weíve got a specific programme to stick to and things are going fine. Weíve got some good pace going, and it promises to be a very competitive season.Ē

The latest edition of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 commences on May 5-6, with Motorland Aragon in playing host to the opening rounds.

The top-three will be posted following every session on the EFCN Facebook page, EFCN Twitter page, and EFCN Insider Twitter page.
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