Fighting French upstaged on home terrain
Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition), Marc Guillot (Milan Compétition), Thibault Bossy (Milan Compétition), Yoann Baziret (Set Up Racing) and Philippe Maurin (Duprey Competition), the standard bearers of France's Eurocup Clio challenge, produced a strong showing in Friday's collective testing. In both sessions, however, the home quintet were pipped to the fastest time, with Stephen Poldermann (Madeno Racing) eventually taking the honours in the morning, and Massimiliano Pedala (Rangoni Motorsport) outperforming everyone in the afternoon to record the quickest lap of the day. Saturday's qualifying cannot come soon enough for the Italian.
After a break lasting several months, Eurocup Clio hostilities resumed on Friday, with a posse of French drivers out to impress the fans at the Paul Ricard HTTT. Bolstering their ranks is Baziret, recently in action in the French Clio Cup, which was this year won by Eurocup Clio leader Milan for the third time running.
Verschuur siblings Mike and Sheila made an impressive start to the first session of collective testing, Mike leading the way with a time of 2:36:023. Simone di Luca (Ragoni Motorsport) briefly eclipsed the brother and sister act by setting a new fastest lap of 2:35:469. Milan then got to work after keeping a low profile in the early stages, though no sooner had he topped the timesheets than Mike Verschuur dislodged him.The foursome continued to trade blows as the session progressed, Milan trimming the quickest time to 2:32:918. That mark was immediately bettered by Maurin, who finished second to Milan in the French Clio Cup. Fellow countrymen Guillot and Bossy joined them in the top four, but just when it looked as if the home contingent were out of reach, along came Poldermann to take the chequered flag in a time of 2:32:749 and end the session ahead of Milan, Maurin, Mike Verschuur and Guillot.Session two began with a preliminary lap, led once more by the Verschuur duo. It was a whole ten minutes before Poldermann's morning time was beaten. After Milan had gone close, it was Guillot who shook the field up by lapping in 2:32:259.Milan quickly took the front, though there was to be a twist in the tale as Pedala dipped under the championship pacesetter's mark with a time of 2:31:940, the first of what he hopes will be a weekend full of surprises.What they said: Massimiliano Pedala : "I've got a really good feeling about the car. The set-up wasn't perfect this morning, but we've made a lot of progress. There are a dozen cars within a second of each other, though, and just because I came out on top today doesn't mean to say I'll be on the front of the grid tomorrow. It's going to be interesting for sure."
Sheila Verschuur: "This morning was a lot of fun, and this afternoon less so. It's the first time I've driven here but I felt at ease straightaway. My aim is to help my brother out this weekend, especially in qualifying. Mike has to win. He's fast and he wants the title. It's a family thing."