2010 Elf Renault Clio Cup with Michelin champion Dave Newsham and Protyre Formula Renault BARC Series leader Mitchell Hale headed to Barcelona on Monday to take part in tests around the Circuit de Catalunya as prizes for their success in the Renault Sport series'.
Runaway Clio Cup champion Newsham was given the chance to sample a Eurocup Megane Trophy car as part of winning the 2010 crown, while Hale took to the track in a Formula Renault 2.0 car as a special prize for leading the championship after its penultimate round. Despite mixed weather conditions, both drivers impressed in the new machinery.
Newsham joined Clio Cup champions from all over Europe in testing a 360bhp rear-wheeled drive Megane. The Scotsman took time to adapt to the 3.5 litre V6 machine, run by championship winning team TDS Racing, but once he had, he soon started to set respectable lap times around the F1 circuit. He ended the day sixth overall, fourth fastest of the Clio Cup drivers taking part.
Speaking after his test, Newsham said: “I've really enjoyed it and the car is a superb piece of kit. We struggled with power steering issues in the first session and if it wasn't for them the team reckoned I would have gone P2. In the second session we put on better tyres which made all the difference and I'm really pleased to end the day fourth quickest. The team were very impressed with how I handled the MÃ©gane and even offered me a drive if I can get the budget together. My goal is still BTCC but it's certainly given me something to think about.”
Hale teamed up with Eurocup team Interwetten to drive their Formula Renault car as a special prize created by the organisers of the BARC series. The youngster, who is looking to compete in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship in 2011, adapted to the car well and saw his lap times improving over the course of the day, ending up a respectable 15th overall.
Commenting on his test, Hale said: “The morning session was hard work in the rain. In the dry everything went much better. I drove a lot of laps. I made mistakes on the fresh tyres, so I need to be realistic about my times. There's a lot more grip and better road holding than with the old Formula Renault 2.0 and I really like the gear change on the steering wheel.”
After enjoying his trip to Barcelona, Hale's focus will now be on the final rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Series at Thruxton this weekend, where the 16 year old will hope to wrap up the 2010 crown.