After two seasons in the Championnat de France de la Montagne running the Formula Renault entirely on my own, I’m finally joining a team for 2017, and not just any team either. Team owner Nicolas Schatz is 7 times French Champion, and having just returned from 2 days testing & coaching with him I’ve never been so well prepared for the race season ahead!
It’s a huge step forwards for me, meaning that I can now focus entirely on my driving instead of constantly managing my time & resources. It’s fun competing abroad but hard work alone, I’d often run out of time to eat by the time I’d got the car ready for each run and watched my onboard video back meaning that my energy levels would be up flagging when I least needed it…
I’m very excited to be driving a new car this season too, I’ve always wanted to race a prototype and having tried a Norma M20 FC at St. Ursanne les Rangiers & Gurnigel Bergrennen in 2016, I had my heart firmly set on finding a drive in one this year. With 9 races scheduled in the CFM, the race program with Team Schatz Competition could not be better.
Driving their 2016 car at Circuit du Bourbonnais confirmed my expectations that this is an incredible car, and crucially quite easy to drive quickly. The paddle shift is running the latest electronic map meaning the changes are instantaneous and the latest aero setup means it produces even more downforce than the car I’ve driven previously, you literally have to recalibrate your brain to drive it – it’s that fast! Driving the car over 2 days I covered around 200km, the equivalent of two seasons racing and a lot of seat time for a hillclimber used to 2 – 3 minute bursts. With Nicolas Schatz coaching me I took a lot from the experience, the data logging helped me see exactly what the car could do and whats more it feels very stable and predictable (much more so than the FR) which should help my confidence on the narrow French roads – I’m eager for the season to start.
My first race is Col St. Pierre, the only event in my 2017 calendar that I’ve not driven before so I’ll be flying out learn it the weekend before with my team mate Sarah Louvet. At 5.1km it’s one of the longer hills with a lot of fast flowing sections that look identical to others… I’ve never made it down to the south of France before due to the distance, happily this year I can just hop on an Easyjet flight rather than driving 1,400km each way!