MGR Motorsport’s Jorge Cevallos fired an early warning shot to the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship title hopefuls during officially timed pre-season testing at a bitterly cold Silverstone on Thursday, 21st March, by topping the timesheets more than 0.3 seconds clear of his closest rival.
Having led the way in the second of the day’s four sessions, and then concluding the third outing inside the top three, the Mexican 18-year-old turned up the heat during the final run to deliver a scintillating time of 56.130 seconds (105.21mph). Impressively, Cevallos’ quickest effort was almost 0.2 seconds inside 2012 Protyre Formula Renault Champion Scott Malvern’s race lap record.
“It was a bit of a late deal here with MGR, so I’m really happy we can be straight on top with limited testing”, said the teenager, whose return was only confirmed at the start of the week, “I think it puts a good statement out there that we’re going to be good contenders for the championship. We’ve just got to take it round by round and then, hopefully, we’ll be able to get a good result at the end.
“Last year was really difficult, we came here from Mexico and I was out here living by myself so there was a lot of stuff to get used to. I didn’t know any of the tracks, so that was a big disadvantage, but now we have a year under our belt, we have good experience of the car and the tracks and I have the right people around me to put up a good fight this year.”
British racer Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) made it a one-two for MGR on the combined timesheets, his session three topping best of 56.457 seconds (104.60mph) just enough to eclipse Jamun Racing’s newly confirmed driver Diego Menchaca.
The Mexican, like compatriot Cevallos part of the prestigious Escuderia Telmex driver programme, ended the day third fastest with a lap of 56.462 seconds (104.59mph) during his final run, having gradually progressed throughout the test.
Fourth quickest was another of the championship’s South American contingent, MTECH Lite’s newcomer Matias Galetto. The 19-year-old from Argentina, who is part of a four-car entry at MTECH featuring karting graduate Ed Brand (Dagnall, Hertfordshire) and returning Lebanese pairing Joe Ghanem and Shahan Sarkissian, lapped in 56.534 seconds (104.45mph).
Scorpio Motorsport’s Henrique Baptista (Eastbourne) was impressively rapid throughout the day and although a hefty excursion at Copse during the final session meant an early finish to his running, the Brazilian rounded-out the test fifth fastest with a time of 56.582 seconds (104.37mph).
Rounding out the top six was Hillspeed’s Jake Cook (Rotherham), 56.617 seconds (104.30mph), ahead of Sarkissian in seventh, Malaysia’s Weiron Tan (London) in eighth for Fortec Motorsports, Ghanem in ninth and 10th placed Matt Rao (Oxford) in the second Hillspeed car.
Yesterday’s official test, which also doubled-up as the annual championship Media Day, was also notable for the first run of Jamun’s second signing, Brazilian youngster Pietro Fittipaldi – grandson of legendary two-time FIA Formula One World Champion, and double Indy 500 winner, Emerson. The rookie’s best lap of the day, 58.721 seconds (100.56mph), came during session two.
So far, 19 drivers have officially registered for the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship with three weeks still remaining until the start of the season on Sunday, 14th April, at Donington Park in the East Midlands.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.