Michael Benyahia furthered his ambition of racing full time in Formula E, the FIA’s all-electric single seater series, after the 2017 Formula Renault Northern European Cup champion impressed at the in-season rookie test in Marrakesh.
Driving for the race-winning Venturi squad in his native Morocco, Benyahia completed race simulations in both wet and dry circuit conditions, and was also given the opportunity to put the car through it’s paces in qualifying trim.
In total he completed over 50 laps of the 1.85 mile circuit and set a best lap time of 1m23.975s, matching up competitively against a field including experienced Formula 1 drivers such as Paul di Resta and Antonio Giovanazzi.
It adds to his recent mileage in the car in Valencia prior to the opening round of Season Four, with Benyahia also undertaking numerous days in the simulator to assist the team and it’s drivers Eduardo Mortara and Maro Engel on race strategy as part of his role as Development Driver.
Benyahia – who received a warm welcome from a capacity crowd at his home event after a last-gasp triumph at Hockenheimring against R-ace GP team mate Gilles Magnus last October – joins an illustrious list of NEC graduates who have used the popular series to springboard themselves into professional motorsport and, in the case of Stoffel Vandoorne, Carlos Sainz Jr, Daniil Kvyat and Valtteri Bottas, Formula 1.
That list also includes the reigning Formula E champion, Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams), adding another high-profile series to the championships portfolio of success stories.
Entries are still open for the 2018 season, with the championship set to break new ground with a support slot at the iconic Pau Grand Prix, giving aspiring racers a rare opportunity to hone their street racing skills, a trait now crucial for Benyahia in his line of work.
That compliments existing dates at FIA Grade I, Formula 1-hosting circuits, including Spa-Francorchamps, the Hockenheimring, Autodromo Nazionale Monza and the Hungaroring, whilst Zandvoort makes a popular return to the schedule.
Michael Benyahia said, “This car is different, it’s really fun for me to drive. It’s pretty heavy compared to the Formula Renault. I just really enjoyed driving this car and knowing the car is challenge to learn, but once you have it’s very rewarding. I want to get back in and drive it again, but unfortunately I can’t – the day is over!”
“It went well this morning in the rain, this afternoon we did a race simulation which also went really, really well. We then went into a qualifying simulation. Overall, throughout the day I’ve learnt a lot.”
“It’s different working with the engineers here, because we’re taking a lot of factors into account – they’re always changing stuff on the wheel and the car like the battery. There’s obviously more engineers here for me than in the other categories. There’s always stuff happening that you have to be talking to them and you have to know what they do before you get in the car and check everything. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and sometimes it does work. It’s really different, but I enjoy it.”
“The crowd seem very happy about me and loved taking pictures with me. They’re always around, everywhere I go somebody knows me, it’s pretty strange. I work well with them, they work well with me so it’s good.”
“I don’t know what’s next for me yet but I think I might be going to Chile, so I still have to do some days in the simulator when I get back to Monaco tomorrow, and then we’ll see what happens from there.”