Stefano Comini, a man to beat
The Eurocup Mégane Trophy 2010 season got underway with two days of collective testing on the Motorland Aragón circuit. With Dimitri Enjalbert (Boutsen Energy Racing) very much the logical favourite, these preliminary tests suggest that Nick Catsburg (TDS Racing) and Stefano Comini (Oregon Team) will be serious contenders. It was Stefano Comini, a newcomer to the discipline, who walked away from Motorland Aragón with the best time under his belt.
All the drivers in the Eurocup Mégane Trophy line-up met at Motorland Aragón for the first collective testing of the season. Eighteen Mégane Trophy’s were out for two days testing on the track that is also hosting collective testing this week for Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and then Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Monday was back-to-work day. For some drivers, it was a question of getting to know their new team, such as for Nick Catsburg, racing for TDS Racing this season, while for others it was the first real test behind the wheel of Mégane Trophy. Seven new drivers are new to the discipline. Stefano Comini and Niccolo Nalio join Italian outfit Oregon Team. Swiss driver Fabien Thuner, seen in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2009, will be flying Boutsen Energy Racing colours, along with more Eurocup Mégane Trophy newcomers, Caroline Grifnée and Vito Rodrigues. Steven Gijsen takes a seat with Equipe Verschuur.
During the first morning, the lap times improved at a fast rate. Timing screens showed an initial trio stand out with Nick Catsburg, Bas Schothorst (McGregor by Equipe Verschuur) and Dimitri Enjalbert fighting for first. Stefano Comini, 6th in the 2009 Italian Formula Renault championship, was quick to join the three leaders. Nick Catsburg finished the morning on top, with a time of 2’03’’427, ahead of Bas Schothorst, Stefano Comini and Dimitri Enjalbert.
Teams and drivers carried on with their development programmes in the afternoon. Stefano Comini underscored his good form by going back to the top of the leaderboard. But Nick Catsburg ousted him from first place at the death. With a lap time of 2’03’’054, the Dutch driver ended the first day in the lead, ahead of newcomers Stefano Comini and Niccolo Nalio. Bas Schothorst and Dimitri Enjalbert were next in line, while Jean-Philippe Madonia (TDS Racing) had taken command of the Gentlemen Drivers standings.
On Tuesday morning, right from the opening minutes of the session, Nick Catsburg and Stefano Comini went on the attack. Both drivers put in a series of quick laps and went below the 2’03 mark. At this stage, Catsburg, credited with 2’02’’586, was just ahead of Stefano Comini.
Hard work was again in evidence in the afternoon session. Nick Catsburg and Stefano Comini continued to dominate, but this time the Swiss driver got the edge on Catsburg. At the end of the session, Stefano Comini upped the pace once more and succeeded in claiming the fastest lap time of the two days, in 2’02’’420. Drivers and teams now head over to Valencia for more collective testing on Sunday and Monday.
Sefano Comini: “It feels as though this car was designed for me! These two days of collective testing have been very heartening. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be on the pace straight away; this is perfect. I’ve got a lot to learn and in particular, racing in a peloton, plus the pit stops.”
Nick Catsburg: “Last season was all about learning the ropes. I’ve got a great understanding with TDS and especially with my engineer. These two days confirm our ambitions for 2010. Now I need to concentrate on my university exams, so I can go into the season in a relaxed frame of mind.”
Dimitri Enjalbert: “We won’t be racing at Motorland Aragón this season, so we took advantage of these sessions to do a lot of work the car, without any stress and without worrying about the standings. We checked out a wide range of settings and struck on some interesting solutions. This is an important season for me. Yes, I’m aiming for the title and in particular the Nissan GT-R GT1 test that goes with it.”