New Mégane Trophy ahead already

Collective testing - Paul Ricard HTTT

The 2008 season is barely over, but preparations are already underway for 2009, with the Eurocup Mégane Trophy competitors coming together this Tuesday for a day of collective testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT. The best time of the day went to the impressive New Mégane Trophy.

A severe weather warning was issued for the south-east of France today, and it was in wet and very windy conditions that the Mégane Trophy drivers took to the track for this day of collective testing. The track dried out as the morning progressed, but the afternoon saw a torrential downpour. A number of drivers from a range of backgrounds took part, including national Clio Cup champions invited by Renault Sport Technologies. The New Mégane Trophy car was also on show, with New Mégane Trophy development driver Kurt Mollekens at the wheel.

British driver Ben Winrow, the 2008 Clio Cup UK champion, was impressive in the morning with Tech 1 Racing, clocking some excellent times both in the wet and in the dry. "This was the first time I'd driven the car and my first time at the Paul Ricard," explained the young Englishman. "I'm only 23 and my experience is pretty much limited to the Clio Cup. I was impressed by the cornering speed and the aerodynamic support. I quickly gained in confidence and increased my speed as the Tech 1 team asked. I got on really well with the team today."

Although he is only 24 himself, the Belgian Clio Cup winner, François Verbist, is more experienced. The Belgian driver was just as happy as Winrow with his first outing in a Mégane Trophy, with Equipe Verschuur. "It's a real race car, very similar to the Silhouettes I've driven in Belcar. I had a great time despite the difficult conditions."

Dutch champion Pim Van Riet, Best Junior in the Italian Clio Cup Francesco Iorio, Spanish Clio Cup winner Antonio de la Reina, and third-placed finisher in the French Clio Cup Marc Guillot were unanimous in their verdict. All were impressed by the car and all are keen to move into the category in 2009. "It was a great experience. It's the first time I've driven a rear-wheel drive. It's fantastic," said Marc Guillot. "Even though I got the worst of the conditions this afternoon, it's made me determined to do everything I can to take part in the 2009 Eurocup Mégane Trophy."

Andreas Stucki, third in the Swiss Clio Cup, is also keen to move into the Eurocup Mégane Trophy, but he is realistically aiming for 2010. "I need one more season learning my trade in the Clio Cup to be in with a shot of making it into the Megane Trophy in 2010."

There were also drivers more used to single-seater racing discovering the pleasures of driving a saloon today, among them Sébastien Chardonnet of Tech 1, Anthony Tardieu of TDS and Laurent Stieger, Sergio Campana and Dean Smith with Oregon Team.

A guest of Team Lompech, Grégory Guilvert impressed onlookers with his speed. "Like a lot of people, I'm looking for funding, but this is a category that interests me. The car is quick and when you see New Mégane Trophy on the track, you can't help but be impressed!"

All eyes were of course on the New Mégane Trophy car, which is coming to the end of its development in the capable hands of Kurt Mollekens. "Despite the difficult and changing weather conditions, we clocked the best time of the day," said Mollekens. "It just goes to show how good New Mégane Trophy is, as these are the worst possible conditions for a car under development. We are very happy."

POS CAR / DRIVER TEAM LAPS TIME 1 00 Renault Sport 41 01:32.746 2 17 Team Lompech 59 01:32.968 3 1 Clio Cup Winners Car 49 01:33.071 4 4 Tech 1 Racing 56 01:33.391 5 12 TDS Racing 53 01:33.551 6 14 TDS Racing 36 01:33.666 7 10 Race Performance 53 01:33.767 8 21 Clio Cup Winners Car 78 01:33.877 9 15 Team Lompech 40 01:34.195 10 9 Boutsen Energy Racing 59 01:34.506 11 24 Oregon Team 79 01:34.564 12 25 Oregon Team 81 01:34.624 13 7 Equipe Verschuur 68 01:35.034 14 8 Boutsen Energy Racing 51 01:35.345 15 26 Clio Cup Winners Car 74 01:35.516 16 22 Boutsen Energy Racing 43 01:36.544 17 11 Clio Cup Winners Car 62 01:37.047 18 18 Blue Jumeirah Team 52 01:40.322 19 16 Team Lompech 12 01:45.551

POS CAR / DRIVER TEAM LAPS TIME 1 17 Team Lompech 20 01:33.406 2 4 Tech 1 Racing 25 01:33.453 3 10 Race Performance 15 01:33.466 4 14 TDS Racing 24 01:33.600 5 12 TDS Racing 18 01:34.146 6 16 Team Lompech 18 01:34.469 7 7 Equipe Verschuur 28 01:34.863 8 25 Oregon Team 38 01:35.063 9 9 Boutsen Energy Racing 1 30 01:35.133 10 26 Clio Cup Winners Car 40 01:35.502 11 8 Boutsen Energy Racing 1 26 01:35.622 12 22 Boutsen Energy Racing 20 01:35.912 13 1 Clio Cup Winners Car 32 01:36.888 14 21 Clio Cup Winners Car 36 01:38.384 15 24 Oregon Team 36 01:38.999 16 11 Clio Cup Winners Car 38 01:40.854 17 15 Team Lompech 23 01:41.959 18 00 Renault Sport 10 01:48.454

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