The new World Series by Renault car began its intensive test programme at the weekend, running for the first time at Paul Ricard in the hands of former F3 frontrunner Jonathan Cochet.

Cochet has been signed to put the 3.5-litre Renault-powered car through its paces during its development phase, completed 76 laps of the French circuit without any major incidents, adding to the positive results from its shakedown at Vairano, in Italy, the week before.

The first day was devoted to fine-tuning the car to its driver's favoured settings, with Cochet trying out multiple combinations on track to get optimum stability and performance. After only a few laps, however, the French driver appeared content with the car's potential.

"This car's got great pedigree," he insisted, "It looks good and its aero efficiency is going to be a great asset. The new engine is very promising and the gearbox feels slick and easy. The Carbone brakes are quite something and, as far as the chassis is concerned, Dallara has delivered an effective package. I soon got the feel of things when I was behind the wheel and I felt like I was in a small F1 car. The testing programme we have in store should be very exciting."

Development manager J?r?me Mortal's team reviewed a broad spectrum of settings during Sunday's outing, in order to locate the set-up ranges to propose to the teams signed up for this year's inaugural championship.

"With over 70 laps this weekend, we're happy with the initial data we've gathered, and we're reassured as to how the programme will move forward now," he reported, "The car's got great pedigree and the next development sessions should confirm its potential."

The development team has already mapped out a lengthy schedule of development and reliability testing leading up to the first round of racing at Zolder next May, with the next session planned for mid-December.