Record weekend at World Series by Renault event
World Series by Renault set a new record as more than 100,000 people attended the UK leg of the motorsport series at Derbyshire’s Donington Park circuit on 8th/9th September. An attendance of 55,000 on Saturday was topped by a crowd of 80,000 on Sunday, giving a total of 135,000. This beats the previous best mark for the free event set last year by more than 40,000 and makes it the best-attended World Series by Renault race meeting in 2007.
As Renault celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Formula One debut, demonstration runs by the reigning World Champion ING Renault F1 Team provided the highlight of the weekend. The team’s French test driver Jonathan Cochet performed high-speed laps and wheel-spinning starts to the delight of the packed grandstands.
The special anniversary was marked by the appearance of RS01, Renault’s first-ever Formula One car, piloted at Donington Park by crowd favourite René Arnoux. Also completing demonstration runs was RE40, the first Renault car to be built entirely of carbon fibre and raced to numerous victories by Alain Prost in 1983. Completing the quintet of Formula One cars spanning Renault’s 30-year history in the sport was RE60, with a 1500hp, 1.5-litre V6 engine, the fastest Formula One car of its era.
A range of Renault sports cars added to the atmosphere with the Le Mans 24-hour race-winning Alpine A442B, piloted by double Le Mans winner Gerard Larousse. The special ‘long-tail’ Renault Alpine A443 ran alongside its sister car. Joining the sports cars on their demonstration laps were two Renault 5 Maxi Rally cars. Jean Ragnotti showcased his skills in one car, while Clio R3 rally driver Emmanuel Guigou piloted the Tour de Corse edition, created after Ragnotti’s victory in the event.
Racing action filled much of the two-day programme with five Renault championships offering action-packed racing. The headline event World Series by Renault, featuring the 425hp V6 Formula Renault 3.5 cars had one race on each day. The home crowd were treated to the best possible outcome as British driver James Walker won race two in his Daventry-based Fortec Motorsport car.
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 racing provided a home winner on Saturday as Jon Lancaster, from Calverley, Leeds, won race one ahead of championship leader New Zealander Brendon Hartley. He went on to finish fourth in race two and will compete in front of a British crowd again in November in the 2007 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship. Eurocup Mégane Trophy also added huge entertainment with thrilling one-make saloon car racing.
Two of Renault’s UK championships made their traditional appearance on the support package with a capacity 38-car grid a memorable spectacle in round 10 of the ELF Renault Clio Cup. Banstead racer Paul Rivett clinched victory in Sunday’s Championship race.
Formula Renault UK, the single-seater series that propelled 2000 champion Kimi Raikkonen and 2003 champion Lewis Hamilton on the path to Formula One, showcased more stars of the future in its two races. Fortec Motorsport’s Duncan Tappy (West Ewell) won both races from pole position to regain the lead of the Championship.
The infield of the 2.5-mile Grand Prix circuit contributed equally exciting attractions with Formula One simulators, free funfair, Renault design demonstrations and an F1 pit stop challenge offering something for the whole family. A large Renault collectors area gave hundreds of Renaultsport car owners the opportunity to meet as a community and enjoy a parade on the circuit on Sunday.
Renault’s specialist all-makes fast-fit service Renault Minute delivered three lucky spectators the ride of a lifetime in a competition car. As a prize in its free prize draw, Adam Randall from Bath was strapped into a custom-built two-seater version of the Formula Renault 3.5 to experience two laps of the track as World Series racer Julien Jousse drove the car.
Also on Sunday, Tim Pugh from Birmingham was a passenger for two laps in a Mégane Trophy racer driven by championship competitor Matthieu Lahaye. On Saturday, Jason Keene from Bromley in Kent was a passenger as Emmanuel Guigou sped round the track in the historic Renault 5 Maxi Tour de Corse.
Commenting on the weekend, Renault UK Press and PR Director Tim Jackson, said: “It’s fantastic to have broken our attendance record here in the UK and I’m sure the many thousands of fans enjoyed themselves. For many people this will be their first taste of motorsport and hopefully Renault has encouraged them to try to experience it again.
“For Renault it is a very special year with the 30th anniversary of our debut in Formula One. Our motorsport family now extends to include all the Championships, teams and drivers in the series here this weekend among many others and we are delighted to share our passion with UK fans.”
Renault Sport Technologies Commercial Director Philippe Talou-Derible commented: “Once again the British motorsport public has supported World Series by Renault and it is fantastic to see the grandstands packed this weekend. All of our competitors and teams enjoy racing in Britain and to have a home winner in the World Series race on Sunday made it a perfect day for all the fans.”