Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0

Albert Costa perseveres to set fastest time -  Le Mans – Collective testing

The Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 field are continuing work on their preparations for the 2009 season. Just days after the first collective testing sessions held in Barcelona, they assembled in Le Mans for two more days of collective testing. Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) confirmed his motivation to perform this season by setting the fastest time.

Rainy conditions were waiting in Le Mans for the thirty drivers taking part in Collective Testing. To make the traffic out on track flow more smoothly, the drivers were divided into three separate groups. Jean-Éric Vergne (SG Formula) took advantage of the rainy conditions on Tuesday morning to get the upper hand over his rivals Albert Costa, Arthur Pic (SG Formula) and Nigel Melker (MP Motorsport).

The conditions then improved slightly. Miki Monras (SG Formula) duly set a fastest lap in 1'53.258. Albert Costa then improved on that time at the close of the morning session. With a lap in 1'51.430, he was faster than Jean-Éric Vergne, Antonio Felix da Costa (Motopark Academy) and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Motopark Academy).

The track then seemed to dry out at the start of the afternoon. Luciano Bacheta (Epsilon Sport) made a significant improvement over the fastest time with a lap in 1'47''078. The last group of drivers to come out on track were able to don their slicks. Albert Costa made the most of the opportunity. At the end of day one, he thus found himself at the top of the standings, with a lap in 1'37''859. The Spaniard was once again better than his rival Jean-Éric Vergne. But there never seems to be much to separate the two men. "The conditions were difficult today" explains Vergne. "At the end of day, to set the fastest time, you had to try and wait until the last possible moment to switch to slicks. There really wasn't much in it. But I am more motivated than ever to do well this season. Here, as in Barcelona, it has been clear that there is not much between Albert Costa and myself. We're both obvious both candidates for the title." Kevin Magnussen (Motopark Academy) took the third fastest time ahead of Genis Olivé (Jenzer Motorsport) and Nigel Melker.

The conditions turned out to be better on Wednesday, with all the drivers opting for slicks right from the off. Albert Costa, clearly the driver in form, once again showed what he was capable of by setting the fastest time for his group with a lap in 1'35''654 ahead of Luciano Bacheta and Nico Müller (Jenzer Motorsport). In the next group, only Miki Monras was able to do better with time of 1'35''342.

Albert Costa was then back in style at the close of the morning session. Having donned fresh rubber, the Barcelona man just kept on getting better. With a lap in 1'34''842, then 1'34''773, he was the first driver to go faster than 1'35. Arthur Pic was the one putting up most resistance, hanging on in there in second place, ahead of Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Kevin Magnussen.

Though the drivers spent most of the afternoon getting some long runs in, the final minutes of the session proved to be decisive. Albert Costa and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs ended up fighting it out for top spot. In the end, it was Costa who had the final word with a lap in 1'34''550, holding off the impending threat from Motopark Academy, with Adrian Quaife-Hobbs ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Antonio Felix da Costa. "I feel really good in this single-seater and I'm brimming with confidence, which is really helping me to push the car to the limit", explains Albert Costa. "It's important to keep yourself at the top of the timing screens on a regular basis. The next collective testing sessions will be our last chance to measure ourselves against the rest of the field before the season gets underway for real. But I'm really keen to get back to Barcelona, for the first race of the season."

The next Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 collective testing sessions will be held at Spa-Francorchamps on March 23-24.