On-Track preparation goes underway for Marta, Belen Garcia and Fabienne Wohlwend
Formula Renault Eurocup carried out its first test in Valencia with three W Series ladies on track. Testing was then halted as the series was set to move to Barcelona.
As previously announced, 20-year old W Series newcomer Belen Garcia joined the Formula Renault Eurocup paddock for a testing and 2-races programme in preparation for the upcoming all-female championship.
With the two series employing identical Tatuus F3 cars (with different engines), the 50th season of Formula Renault became a very appealing choice for the female drivers looking for valuable track time. The series organized by Renault also tried to further market itself towards women racers by offering free entry fees for its 2020 races.
Belen Garcia will be found on the grid of two rounds: at the Silverstone season opener and at an undisclosed event in place of the cancelled Monza round.
Fellow Spanish racer Marta Garcia was also back in the FA Racing car for the Valencia inaugural collective test; the Norisring race winner had already tested with the Spanish outfit in the previous months.
Valencian 18-year old Nerea Martí completed a private testing programme with Formula De Campeones on the same track, but was not part of the Formula Renault Eurocup days.
The first day at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit finished with ART Grand Prix's Victor Martins on top of the timesheets thanks to his 1:29.279 lap, ahead of Italian Lorenzo Colombo for Bhaitech Racing and ART teammate Paul Aron.
Among a record-breaking field of 9 teams and 25 drivers, Marta and Belen Garcia opened their days with a P12 and P13 in the very first morning session, led by Colombo. Marta improved to a 1:31.939 in the second session, and then ended the day after a total 57 laps with a personal best of 1:31.609, in 20th place.
"First touchdown with the car after 3 months done." - wrote 19-year old Marta Garcia on her social media feeds. "We know there is room to improve and we know where to. Let’s keep it going".
Belen Garcia, working again with the Global Racing Service team that brought her to the Spanish F4 Female Trophy title, was 24th fastest after the first day's four sessions. She recorded a 1:32.136 lap as her best performance, lapping 63 times around the 4,005m circuit.
Thursday started with a welcome surprise: Lichtenstein's Fabienne Wohlwend joined M2 Competition for a productive test day, bringing the W Series drivers count to three.
The first morning session saw Mikhael Belov on top, leading the field with a 1:29.342 lap. Paul Aron, Lorenzo Colombo and Victor Martins continued to shine and were closely behind the Russian. Marta Garcia was 15th, while Belen followed in P18. Wohlwend completed her first session in 23th place.
In the second session, Caio Collet improved Belov's benchmark and went on top, followed by R-ace GP teammate Petr Ptacek. At the mid-day break, Martins moved on top of the timesheets, before the return of Collet: the Brazilian posted a 1:30.088 on his last flying lap that secured him the provisional first place.
Marta Garcia was 18th before the lunch break, with Belen three tenths off her compatriot's pace in P20. Wohlwend followed in 23rd, but with only 4 laps to her name on the charts.
While Marta wasn't back for the last afternoon sessions, Fabienne Wohlwend showed again glimpses of the talent demonstrated in her inaugural W Series campaign and moved up into 15th position. Working with Toyota Racing Series winning team M2 Competition, Fabienne clocked a 1:31.760 lap.
In the very last session of the collective test, Art Grand Prix's Victor Martins reclaimed the top of the classify after a 10-minutes sprint after a red flag caused by Nicola Marinangeli.
However, Martins could not top Collet's morning time and finished second in the combined classify. Belov, Aron and Colombo were always very close pace-wise, anticipating an intense Formula Renault Eurocup season.
Belen Garcia made improvements and was 15th in the last session, completing 75 more laps on Thursday.
"Loved to be back! Missed it too much. Barcelona next, if the current situation allows it" - said the young Catalan driver.
The series was indeed scheduled to move to Belen Garcia's home track of Montmelo, Barcelona, but the COVID-19 outbreak crisis soon led to the cancellation of the further two days of testing.
"In accordance with the decision that has just been made by the Catalan Government’s Minister of the Interior, the Formula Renault Eurocup pre-season collective tests scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya are cancelled." - read the statement. "Renault Sport Racing acknowledges this decision and will monitor the situation."
At this time, it is not clear yet if testing will be rescheduled, but it is likely that no motorsport activity will resume before late April.
In Belen's words:
"Loved to be back! Missed it too much"