After an absorbing season opener on the historic streets of Pau, the attention turns to the world-famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza as the Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) returns to action this weekend [29 June – 01 July].
Headlining a closely-matched entry list are several teams and rising stars from the Formula Renault Eurocup – the next step on Renault Sport Racing’s junior single-seater ladder.
French outfit R-ace GP will field an expanded five-car operation, led by Renault Sport Academy racers Max Fewtrell and Victor Martins. Logan Sargeant will look to add to his podium brace from Pau, an event that helped NEC graduate Charles Milesi go on to claim a win on the streets of Monte Carlo a fortnight later.
Gabriel Gandulia completes the line-up, and with testing mileage at the 3.6 mile amphitheatre of speed under his belt looks in strong shape heading into the double-header.
Doureid Ghattas claimed the early advantage amongst the full-season entries with two de-facto victories, but with fellow newcomer Phil Hill snapping at his heels will need to be on top form again this weekend.
Tech1 Racing pairing Thomas Neubauer and Frank Bird will have their sights similarly set on silverware, as will the all-German line-up at Anders Motorsport of Phil Hill and Doureid Ghattas.
JD Motorsport and Lorenzo Colombo will be popular with the home crowd, with the Italian pairing looking for history to repeat itself after claiming a Eurocup podium double back in April.
Sharon Scolari and ScoRace Team round out the usual suspects with renewed optimism as the Swiss aims to build on a steep learning curve from Pau.
Monza also plays host to another championship debut as Cram Competition and Chinese racer Zichao Wang enter the fray.
An experienced contender in both single-seater and GT machinery, Wang’s preparations for the weekend are already underway on the Italian squad’s simulator back at base.
Both races will be streamed live through YouTube and the championship’s social media platforms.
Situated in the north of Italy near the iconic city of Milan, the historic Autodromo Nazionale Monza is typified by high-speed straights and extreme cornering speeds, making a strong aerodynamic setup crucial to success.
“Monza has both the highest top speed and the longest time spent at full throttle of any track on the calendar,” explains NEC Data Engineer, Edwin van den Heuvel.
“In terms of the mechanics, it can be very hard on both the engines and brakes, so setting them up properly is essential to ensure they last the race distance. That’s made even more difficult by the low downforce levels across the lap, so it really is a challenge.
“Overtaking opportunities are plentiful, especially if you can get a good tow from your opponent through the Parabolica and then down the main straight.”