Gabriel Gandulia and R-ace GP have begun their preparations ahead of the new Formula Renault Northern European Cup season.
The reigning Teams’ Champions announced that Gandulia would make the switch from his native Argentina to further his junior single-seater career in Europe for 2018 back in January, and have begun testing with the 21-year old at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
Despite inclement weather conditions at the French circuit, it provided Gandulia with an opportunity to familiarise himself with the 2.0 litre, Tatuus-manufactured Formula Renault machine, as well as his new engineering support team.
“We’ve had a very productive week working together,” commented Gandulia “The tests were very important despite not having optimal conditions and
problems with ice and rain. In every session I felt I had improved in the car and that is the main objective, so it was still a positive experience.”
“The car isn’t unfamiliar as I tested it during December, but it took some time to build that confidence again. The cars I used to race in Argentina have nothing in common with these cars, so I’m still in the middle of a period of adaptation.”
Gandulia also admitted a switch to European competition had not initially been on his radar for the upcoming campaign, but the professionalism and positive working environment at R-ace GP, combined with the impressive technical capabilities of the Formula Renault car and a positive range of circuits on the calendar convinced him to commit to the NEC for 2018.
“When I first talked to R-ace GP last winter, I wasn’t expecting to race in Europe this year,” he admitted “In fact, I had a verbal arrangement with my team in Argentina for this season, but when I returned from those tests in Portimao and Jerez I decided I wanted to race here.”
“I was surprised by the levels of grip the cars possess and how nice the circuits were to drive, but also the team gave me plenty of support during the tests and made me feel really comfortable, despite the fact we weren’t familiar with each other and I had little experience.”
With a highly-competitive field comprising the strongest junior single-seater teams on the continent expected to line up in Zandvoort for the season opener in late April, Gandulia is under no illusions about the steep learning curve ahead, but has a pragmatic approach to tackling the challenge.
“My main objective is to become increasingly confident with the car, and hopefully the results will follow after that. I’m not setting myself any goals for the season yet, it depends what level I’m at after the winter break and my own preparations have finished.”
“It’s important to take a balanced approach. The work outside of the car is equally important, especially working with my engineers on the telemetry and reviewing video footage. Everything has an equal importance and when pulled together ultimately that is what will enable us to be competitive.”
The Argentine also paid tribute to R-ace GP for their welcoming approach as he takes his first steps into international motorsport.
“It was easier to integrate myself into a new team than I thought it would be, and that’s all down to R-ace GP being a fantastic team where every individual member enjoys their work. It’s my first time in a foreign team, and it was a little strange initially to be talking English so often, but everyone in the team helped me to feel comfortable and it’s great that we share all the same goals.”
The new season kicks off with pre-season testing at the Hockenheimring on the 14-15 March ahead of the season opener in Zandvoort in April.