ON MÉGANE TROPHY DEBUT
Recently crowned ELF Renault Clio Cup champion Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) scorched his way to the fastest lap time among national Clio Cup champions as they fulfilled their prize of a test in the Mégane Trophy race car at Paul Ricard circuit. The 23-year-old outshone champions from Holland, Belgium and Italy, as he impressed champion Mégane Trophy team Tech 1 Racing in southern France on Tuesday, 4th November.
Winrow was among seven Clio Cup champions and leading drivers from around Europe invited to test the 3.5-litre, 330hp car by Renault Sport Technologies, as a prize for his performance in the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup. Winrow won nine races and never finished outside the top three on the road as he wrapped up the prestigious saloon-car title with three rounds to spare.
After starting the day using wet weather tyres as the circuit dried from overnight rain, Winrow continually lowered his lap times on the 2.39-mile track as the morning progressed. The early part of his final run on new slick tyres was hampered by traffic, but once in clear air he improved his old-tyre time by almost one-second to a best of 1min 33.071s (92.32mph average).
Winrow’s time was a full eight-tenths of a second ahead of the next best Clio Cup champion and placed him second in the classification. Only Gregory Guilvert, an experienced sportscar driver who is more accustomed to high-powered cars than Winrow, was able to beat the Briton’s time and then by a mere 0.103s.
Having completed 49 laps in the Mégane Trophy, Ben Winrow commented: “It was great to experience the Mégane Trophy and a really enjoyable day at a fabulous facility. The car is very easy to drive because the paddle-shift gearbox means you can concentrate on finding the braking point and taking the correct line.
“The driving style is completely different to the Clio Cup car I have been used to. With the Clio, which is front-wheel drive, you aim to carry as much speed as possible into the corner. In the rear-wheel drive Mégane you stamp on the brakes, turn in and then get back on the power. My first taste of the Mégane has gone really well and racing in the championship is an option I would consider.”
Simon Abadie, Team Owner of Tech 1 Racing, commented: “I am very pleased with Ben’s performance today. He was very professional, gave very good feedback and we were able to improve the times through the session. It is his first time in the car and the first time at a new circuit but he did everything we asked of him. To find eight-tenths of a second on new tyres is at the same level as our championship drivers from the 2008 season and I think Ben could be successful in the championship.”
The test at Paul Ricard marked the last outing of the current specification Mégane Trophy racer. In 2009, the Eurocup Mégane Trophy will feature a new car as it continues to race on the World Series by Renault package. The UK round of World Series by Renault will be held on 4th/5th July.
ELF Renault Clio Cup races available to view online at www.renaultsport.co.uk
For all the latest ELF Renault Clio Cup Championship news visit the official Renault Sport UK website built by Racecar