Alex Peroni has established himself as a contender for the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup title after a promising performance in the opening round at Monza last weekend
The 17 year-old Hobart driver was among the fastest drivers in Saturday’s first of two races at the legendary Italian racetrack.
He qualified fifth in the 30-strong international field, and held that position in the race until he was outjumped by experienced Belgian Max Defourny following the second of two Safety Cars.
Until then Alex had put up a spirited defence against the 2016 Eurocup third placegetter.
At one point he drove side-by-side on the outside of Defourny around the high-speed Curva Grande, and outbraked him into the Della Roggia Chicane!
Nevertheless he was the highest-placed Eurocup debutant.
Bad luck in qualifying for Sunday’s second race prevented Peroni from repeating the impressive result.
His fastest lap in the 15-minute session was affected by a full course caution for another driver’s incident. Consequently he started the race from 14th position.
An early-race clash with Portuguese Henrique Chaves eliminated both drivers.
Alex is ninth in the Eurocup pointscore despite finishing only one of the two races.
He’s confident that he can be competitive in the remaining nine rounds of the one-make Eurocup series, which has been a stepping-stone to Formula 1 for nearly three decades.
“I’m happy that I showed good pace and came away with a good result in Race 1,” he said.
“I’d hoped for a better starting position for Race 2, but yellow flags at just the wrong time in qualifying was a setback.
“Gaining race positions is always tough in such a competitive series as Eurocup – even more so when you’re trying to move forward from midfield.
“Contact with another car in the race was disappointing, but it’s always a possibility in that situation.
“Now I’m looking forward to the next round at Silverstone in a couple of weeks. I haven’t raced there before, so I’ll need to be on my game right from the start.
“Thanks to Fortec Motorsport and my sponsors Blundstone, RACT, United, Renault Australia and Richardson Devine Marine.”
ALEX PERONI’S 2017 FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP RESULTS
ROUND 1 – MONZA (ITALY), APRIL 22-23
RACE 1: Qualifying – 5th; Result – 6th
RACE 2: Qualifying – 14th; Result – Did not finish (contact on lap 2)
POINSTCORE POSITION: 9th (8 points)
FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP
Eurocup is Renault’s flagship series for its 2-litre openwheeler, which is raced in several Formula Renault national and international series.
The category has been a stepping stone in the Formula 1 careers of Australia’s Daniel Riccardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Kimi Raïkkönen, and past F1 stars Alain Prost and Jacques Laffite.
This year’s 10-round Eurocup series visits the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix and classic Formula 1 circuits Monza, Silverstone, Hungaroring, Nurburgring, Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps and Barcelona.
Next event – May 13-14 Silverstone, Great Britain
The last three weeks have seen all teams in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup taking part in collective tests at Magny Cours, Paul Ricard – Le Castellet and Nurburgring in preparation for the season start at Monza on the 22-23 April.
The tests involved two days of intensive work at each track with all teams preparing cars and drivers for one of the most competitive years in the Formula Renault 2.0 championship’s history. With 30 drivers and at least 15 capable of winning races, it will be tough.
Alex and his team are pleased with the work they managed to get through. Alex has re-acquainted himself with a racing car and the team has been able to work with Alex to understand his needs and how to extract the best lap times.
While there is still more work to do, particularly in learning the many new tracks, results from the test indicate that come the first race meeting Alex should be a contender, despite the very high level of competition.
It’s definitely going to be an exciting year!