1 January 1901
World Series seeks new prince of Monaco.
Monaco is as much the stuff of legend for the World Series by Renault drivers as it is for the world of Formula One itself, as it provides their opportunity to race alongside the category they one day hope to join.
Since 1972, drivers taking part in the various Renault formulae have had the privilege of showing off their talents in Monaco and, although shorn of one of their usual two events, Sunday will see 30 Renault-powered Dallaras lining up in the principality for the curtain raiser to the 63rd Monaco Grand Prix. And the race will also give the series a valid opportunity to compare itself with the supposedly senior GP2 championship, which races on Saturday afternoon.
For Enrico Toccacelo, Jaap van Lagen and Damien Pasini, this race has that little something extra-special, given that it is quite simply their favourite race! An opinion shared by Tomas Kostka… even if the young Czech driver only knows the circuit from video games! Toccacelo started his season in style by romping to victory at Zolder two weeks ago, while van Lagen and Pasini showed enough to suggest that, if they find the right set-up for the tricky street circuit, they could be in with a shout of following the Italian on to the top step of the podium.
The experienced Toccacelo knows the circuit like the back of his hand after racing there for the last three years in F3000 but, while the Italian driver will likely view this weekend as a golden opportunity to take a second victory in the World Series, he will also remember how potential victory was snatched away from him after a botched pit-stop in 2004.
Pasini, like several others, will remember Monaco from last year's visit with the Renault V6 Eurocup, while fellow Frenchmen Simon Pagenaud, Tristan Gommendy, Eric Salignon and Patrick Pilet will want to do well simply because the principality offers them something close to an extra home event.
Germany's Markus Winkelhock, Pole Robert Kubica and Spaniards Adrian Valles and Felix Porteiro, meanwhile, are all seeing to confirm their good start-of-season form by making it onto the podium, while others who failed to live up to expectation in Belgium, will hope to make amends this weekend. Kubica currently heads the overall rankings, but has never raced in Monaco before - a major handicap shared by his closest rival Andreas Zuber.
Among those hoping that Monaco will be a chance to make up lost ground are Will Power and van Lagen, both of whom were hard hit by their lack of luck after excellent qualifying performances at Zolder, while reigning V6 Eurocup champion Giorgio Mondini will hope to at least place, having come away from Zolder without a single point.
The entry list features three changes from round, the most notable of which sees Sven Barth returning to the circuit at which he won last year's FRV6 event. The German rejoins the Interwetten.com team alongside Daniel la Rosa, after regular pilot Stefano Proetto was suspended for dangerous driving in free practice at Zolder.
DAMS driver Alx Danielsson, who suffered an ankle injury in an accident in free practice in Zolder, is replaced by British driver Alex Lloyd, who finished sixth in Euro 3000 series after a part-season last year. Lloyd, who only had a truncated test to get used to the car, is hoping as much for a good performance to woo sponsors as much as good result, and could land himself an extension with DAMS as Danielsson has yet to be confirmed for the next round in Valencia.
Finally, the World Series can now claim to be exactly that, after Moroccan driver Mehdi Bennani signed to partner Ivan Bellarosa at Avelon Racing for the rest of the season. The series now has drivers from all five continents.
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