Fresh from being announced as ART Grand Prix’s latest acquisition for the 2020 Formula Renault Eurocup season, Frenchman Victor Martins topped the opening day of pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia last Wednesday.
Martins topped the opening day while 2019 Rookie Champion Caio Collet ended the second day of the test on top on Thursday as twenty-five cars took to the track on each of the days in Spain.
Martins Hits the Top on Day One
Martins, the runner-up in the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup championship, topped the times in Valencia on Wednesday, with the Frenchman setting a best time of 1:29.279 in the fourth and final session of the day to edge out BhaiTech Racing’s Lorenzo Colombo.
Colombo’s best time came in the third session on Wednesday afternoon, but it was enough to put him ahead of the leading rookie of the day, which was ART Grand Prix’s Paul Aron. R-ace GP’s Collet ended day one with the fourth fastest time ahead of the third ART Grand Prix entry of Swiss driver Grégoire Saucy.
Amaury Cordeel, who raced for MP Motorsport in 2019, switched to FA Racing for the test, with the Belgian setting the sixth fastest time of the day ahead of Formula 4 graduate Mikhael Belov, who was testing with M2 Competition. Belov edged out JD Motorsport’s William Alatalo, while Arden Motorsport’s Ugo de Wilde and JD Motorsport’s Tommy Smith rounded out the top ten.
Hadrien David, the 2019 French F4 champion and a recent acquisition by the Renault Sport Academy, ended just outside the top ten for MP Motorsport, while another Formula 4 graduate, Alessandro Ghiretti, finished just behind the Frenchman in twelfth, also for MP.
Other drivers to take to the track that have yet to be confirmed for the 2020 season included Alex Quinn at MP Motorsport, Nicola Marinangeli at BhaiTech Racing, Marta Garcia and Tijmen van der Helm at FA Racing, and Matthias Luthen at GRS.
“Today represents an excellent start to the season for the team and myself,” said Martins. “I have chosen to take on a great challenge with ART Grand Prix.
“I have to get to know the team as fast as possible for us to create a very productive working environment and mutual confidence. Everything has gone very well so far and I hope we can keep the momentum going tomorrow at Valencia.”
Collet Strikes to End Testing On Top
There was one driver change for day two, with Luthen not taking to the track at GRS, but M2 Competition added an addition car for highly rated W Series racer Fabienne Wohlwend, meaning there continued to be twenty-five cars on track.
The day again was split into four separate sessions, and it was Collet who topped the day with the fastest time overall, his 1:29.063 in session two meaning he ended up almost three-tenths of a second clear of the impressive Belov.
Martins improved on his time from Wednesday but could not better third, while his team-mate Aron ended fourth just ahead of Colombo. R-ace GP duo Kush Maini and Petr Ptácek, both returning to the championship for a second session after impressive rookie campaigns, finished sixth and seventh fastest ahead of Saucy and de Wilde, while GRS’ Xavier Lloveras completed the top ten.
Australian racer Jackson Walls, racing in Europe for the first time in 2020, just missed out on the top ten in eleventh for Arden Motorsport, while Alatalo completed the top twelve ahead of BhaiTech Racing’s László Tóth, Cordeel and Marinangeli.
“This was the first time I drove for the team at this circuit and I am happy with the progress we’ve made over both days,” said Collet. “This year, the team can count on three experienced drivers and Petr, Kush and I work very well together.
“The atmosphere is great and we took a big step forward today. I am very pleased with how today went, but it is only testing. However, if we keep this momentum going, I think we’ll have everything we need to be in the race for the title.
“Like last year, the battle promises to be fierce with some strong contenders, but I think that two or three teams will pull away and we need to be one of them!”
Barcelona Test Cancelled due to Coronavirus Fears
The nine teams were set to test again on Saturday and Sunday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but due to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, the test was cancelled as government officials implemented plans to try and prevent further spread of the virus.
The Circuit had been closed and meant it was not possible for the teams to test, with Renault Sport Racing acknowledging the decision. They will continue to monitor the outbreak as it continues to cancel sporting events around the globe, with the start of the Formula Renault Eurocup season set to take place at Silverstone on the weekend of 8-10 May.