A new ex-Spa-rience

Eurocup Mégane Trophy Spa-Francorchamps - Preview

The Eurocup Mégane Trophy title will once again be highly coveted this season. Twenty-two drivers are expected to line up on the starting grid for the opening meeting at Spa-Francorchamps, where the new Eurocup Mégane Trophy car will make its racing debut. Anyone with ambitions to succeed Pedro Petiz as champion will need to start by putting in a good performance at Spa-Francorchamps, where the track should provide an ideal opportunity to show off the car's proficiency on fast bends.

A number of drivers stood out during winter testing. Michaël Rossi (TDS) was in fine fettle at both Barcelona and Paul Ricard. The young French driver, barely 20 years old, enters his third season in motorsport off the back of a strong winter in which he seemed to make a real breakthrough. It remains to be seen, however, whether he can turn his explosive speed into a string of race wins against stiff opposition.

2007 runner-up Dimitri Enjalbert (Tech 1 Racing) will be one man piling on the pressure. Indeed, he is perhaps the hot favourite for this year's Eurocup Mégane Trophy title. Enjalbert, alongside his teammate Jonathan Hirschi, will also be entrusted with the mission of helping Tech 1 Racing to retain the team crown.

On his lucky circuit, and in his back yard to boot, Belgian driver Maxime Martin (Boutsen Energy Racing) will be keen to make a strong start. His familiarity with the circuit could play in his favour this weekend. But he looks set to be a force to be reckoned with all season long.

Another serious contender is experienced campaigner Fabrice Walfisch (Oregon Team). Walfisch has had success in a number of categories: Formula 3, Formule 3000, sprints and endurance races. This could just be his year in Eurocup Mégane Trophy.

Among the heavyweight outsiders are Swiss driver Ralph Meichtry (Race Performance), Dutchman Bernhard Ten Brinke (Equipe Verschuur) and Belgian Renaud Kuppens all three are capable of challenging for victory.

The newly formed Gentleman category will add a little spice to the action further down the Eurocup Mégane Trophy field. Out of the nine drivers competing in the category, the three most experienced are Jonathan's father Pierre Hirschi (Team Lompech), Jean-Philippe Madonia (TDS) and Jean-Charles Miginiac (Team Lompech). This "race within a race" promises to be hotly contested!

Continuity is the watchword in the 2008 sporting and technical regulations. One qualifying session will determine the starting order for both races: each driver's fastest lap will count towards the race 1 grid, while their second-fastest time will determine their starting position for race 2. Each race will last 40 minutes plus one lap, with one mandatory refueling stop.

Race Nº Team (Nat) Driver (Nat) Gents1 Tech 1 Racing (FRA) Dimitri ENJALBERT (FRA)   2 Tech 1 Racing (FRA) Matthieu CHERUY (FRA)   3 Tech 1 Racing (FRA) Jonathan HIRSCHI (SUI)   4 Tech 1 Racing (FRA) Bernard DELHEZ (BEL)   6 Equipe Verschuur (NED) Harrie KOLLEN (NED) G 7 Equipe Verschuur (NED) Bernhard TEN BRINKE (NED)   8 Boutsen Energy Racing (BEL) Maxime MARTIN (BEL)   9 Boutsen Energy Racing (BEL) David DERMONT (BEL)   10 Race Performance (SUI) Ralph MEICHTRY (SUI) G 11 Race Performance (SUI) Andreas MAYERL (AUT)   12 TDS Racing (FRA) Michäel ROSSI (FRA)   14 TDS Racing (FRA) Jean-Philippe MADONIA (FRA) G 15 Team Lompech (FRA) Sébastien DHOUAILLY (FRA)   16 Team Lompech (FRA) Jean-Charles MIGINIAC (FRA) G 17 Team Lompech (FRA) Pierre HIRSCHI (SUI) G 18 Blue Jumeirah Team (ESP) Rafael UNZURRUNZAGA (ESP) G 20 Equipe Verschuur (NED) Wim BEELEN (NED)   21 Equipe Verschuur (NED) Erik VAN LOON (NED) G 22 Boutsen Energy Racing (BEL) Renaud KUPPENS (BEL)   24 Oregon Team (ITA) Fabrice WALFISCH (FRA) G 25 Oregon Team (ITA) Giuseppe TERMINE (ITA)   73 Oregon Team (ITA) Angelo BAIGUERA (ITA) G