After extremely close practice sessions in heatwave temperatures, Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport) did the best job in mixed conditions to claim his maiden pole position in the Formula Renault Eurocup at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. On Saturday the Renault Sport Affiliated Driver will start ahead of Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) and Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport).
To kick-off the fifth meeting of the season, the Formula Renault Eurocup teams and drivers were busy on Wednesday. Callan O’Keeffe made his debut with M2 Compétition, while Rui Andrade and Franco Colapinto did the same with FA Racing by Drivex.
Five different drivers lead the way in practice
Twice winner at Circuit Paul Ricard last month, Lorenzo Colombo dominated the first official session in 2:19.574s before the thermometer reached 40°C. In the increasingly hotter conditions, rookies Kush Maini (M2 Competition) and Patrik Pasma (Arden Motorsport) each set a session fastest lap without beating his time.
The battle for best time was wide-open in the two collective tests. Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP) led the first, which was cut short to remove the car of Sebastián Fernández (Arden Motorsport), while Lorenzo Colombo could not improve his benchmark time in the final session. All of his effort wasn’t enough to beat his team mate Victor Martins who led the way in 2:19.283s.
Leonardo Lorandi pulls out all the stops
In the afternoon, the field got down to business to determine the grid for race 2 that will be run on Saturday.
While Caio Collet was the first to set a time, his rivals came straight in to switch to the Hankook rain tyres that were better suited for sectors 2 and 3, which were soaked after a brief but intense shower. His team mate Oscar Piastri went to the top of the timing screen before the times began to improve from lap to lap with the return of clear skies.
Victor Martins looked to have clinched best time, but Leonardo Lorandi snatched pole position with a lap of 2:30.257s. Lorenzo Colombo was third ahead of Federico Malvestiti (Bhaitech Racing) and Frank Bird (Fortec Motorsports), Caio Collet, Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport) and Oscar Piastri. Second in the general classification, Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) could no better than 21st place.
Tomorrow, the drivers will take part in the second qualifying session at 10:30, which will determine the starting order for the first race of the weekend, scheduled for 14:30.
Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport): “I am very happy to get my maiden pole position in the Formula Renault Eurocup. I have done it in F4, but I am so pleased to get my first in this category. Although qualifying was run on rain tyres, we also had good pace in the dry. I am going to do everything I can to maintain my position and I am confident about my chances for the win on Saturday.”
Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “It was an extremely difficult session. No one expected it to rain, so we went out on slicks and then had to come back in at the end of the out lap. This was the first time I have driven in wet conditions at Spa, but the result is very good, especially as Leonardo is quite far back in the general classification. Like we’ve had since the start of the year, our pace is good, so we should keep doing what we are doing to go for the win.”
Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport): “It was very complicated out there. I put in a good lap to qualify third, but you had to be a little lucky in this session to put in the perfect lap at the right time. The set-ups were not ideal for the rain, but it was the same for everyone. I did my best and this third place is a solid result. If my race pace is good, I will be able to make some passes so I am very confident for Saturday.”
Federico Malvestiti (Bhaitech Racing): “This qualifying session was pretty good compared to the others so far this season. The rain came to mix things up and we were able to make the most of the conditions to get a good result. I did make a few mistakes though, that cost me a better spot on the grid. Still, I am satisfied and I will try to do even better tomorrow morning before focusing on the race!”