Max Defourny is an exciting prospect for the future, with the sixteen-year-old Belgian making the jump up into Formula Renault 2.0 with Strakka Racing in 2015. He will compete full-time in the Northern European Cup with the team, as well as making guest appearances in their Eurocup team.
Defourny spoke to The Checkered Flag a week after his first outing with the team in the NEC championship where he became one of the youngest drivers to take a podium finish in the series.
“I have always shown speed throughout my career,” said Defourny. “In karting I was driving in a privateer outfit which made it a bit harder, but I was a front runner at international level.
“Last year in FR1.6 was my first year in cars and it was a really a learning year. I had several podiums and actually finished 5th in the championship.
“I [also] learned quite a bit in the few races that I did last year in French F4. I went there with as little preparation as possible as the aim was to adapt to the tracks and car rapidly, ultimately to gain some experience.
“It was quite a logical step for me as it is the next category up from FR1.6 NEC in which I competed last year. FR2.0 is such a renowned category – it just made sense.”
It was a bit of fortune that saw Defourny and Strakka Racing unite for the first time, with the Belgian scheduled to test for a team that ultimately failed to show. The team had a spare car ready to go and put the Belgian into the seat, and from there on they have not looked back.
“Strakka and I first came into contact after the FR2.0 rookie tests at Jerez last year,” revealed Defourny. “My first test with Strakka was all about timing. I was supposed to go and test with another team, but they weren’t able to go and Strakka had capacity to run me instead.
“The tests went really well so we decided to test on a few further occasions. Then after long discussions between Strakka and another team during the winter we decided to do a deal with Strakka.
“The team is working very well together and has lots of experience in professional motorsport. Considering that it’s the first year in FR2.0 for them, what they have been able to achieve in such of a short period of time is quite impressive.
“They put great passion into their work and everyone is working the same direction with the aim of winning.”
Defourny admitted he has been training hard to prepare himself for the busy season ahead. He also felt his tests with Strakka Racing at both Le Mans and Motorland Aragon were positive, finishing inside the top eight on every day, even if he felt there was more time to find, especially on the final day in Spain.
“We had the winter testing at the end of last year and got to know the car and team,” said Defourny. “Through the whole winter I trained at least five times a week and worked on my mental preparation too. This has meant I am really ready for the season.
“The two official Eurocup tests really went great. We were able to gather a lot of good information and keep on working on the set up of the car. I think what was really good was the progress that we were able to make along as Strakka learns more about the car and what makes it work well.
“On top of this, we were able to be consistently challenge for the top of the time-sheets in all conditions. I was on top on day one at Le Mans and finished P4 on the second day.
“Then in Motorland, I was once again challenging for the top slot, finishing the first day 5th, and even if the second day didn’t go as well with me finishing 8th, we were able to learn a lot and use this to improve for the season ahead.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Defourny admits he is looking to have a strong season, and wants to challenge for wins and podiums in both NEC and Eurocup. He feels his first year in Formula Renault 2.0 will be extremely important for his career, and is looking to have as strong a season as possible on track.
”I am looking forward to fighting at the front and being able to challenge for wins,” said the Belgian, who won’t turn seventeen until October. “I am very keen to see me progress as a driver, gaining experience as well as getting some good results in preparation for whatever 2016 brings. [I want] to fight for the best results, be a consistent frontrunner and ultimately to win races.
“I think that it is very important as every season is in a driver’s career. For me it will be my first year in FR2.0 and at this level in cars so it will be extra important for how my career progresses.”