Albert Costa (Oregon Team) will be the man to watch when the 2012 Eurocup Megane Trophy season gets under way at Motorland Aragon over the 5-6 May. The young Spaniard, who was 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion and fourth in Formula Renault 3.5 Series last season with one race win to his name, is now taking his career in a new direction at the wheel of the high-performance saloon car developed by Renault Sport Technologies. Costa is far from the only championship contender, however, with team-mates Niccolo Nalio (Oregon Team) and Fabien Thuner (Oregon Team) and Bas Schothorst (TDS Racing) sure to be in the mix.
Oregon Team swept all before them in the 2011 Eurocup Megane Trophy, as Stefano Comini surged to the title. The Italian outfit is, nevertheless, hungry for more and will be lining up no fewer than six cars as it seeks to retain the team title it won last year. Sporting the No. 1 will be Nicolas Milan, who was in a class of his own in winning the inaugural Eurocup Clio championship in 2011. Now racing in the colours of Ellip6, the three-time Clio Cup France winner will be racing a rear-wheel drive for the first time, though judging by his recent triumphs, he should have little trouble in finding his feet.
Team leaders will be Nalio and Costa. Second last year, the Italian has the potential to go one better this time around and claim his maiden title, though his Spanish team-mate has made the switch to the Eurocup Megane Trophy for one reason and one reason only: to win the crown himself. With victories under his belt in both the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the Spaniard will become the first driver to win races in all three flagship World Series by Renault events if he can take the chequered flag at some point this season. Straight into the groove during collective testing, Costa will be a force to be reckoned with at Motorland Aragon, even if it is not one of his favoured tracks.
Completing the Oregon Team sextet are Thuner, Italian new boy Kevin Gilardoni, both of whom have the means to upset the favourites, and Enrico Bettera, who will compete in the Gentlemen Drivers’ championship.
Out to stop the Italian clan in its tracks will be TDS Racing, spearheaded by Schothorst, who scored two poles and a race win last year and will be doing all he can to spike the best-laid plans of Costa, Nalio and Co. Backing the Dutchman up is compatriot and new recruit Kelvin Snoeks (TDS Racing). Featuring prominently in Formula 2 over the last two seasons, Snoeks is taking his first steps in saloon-car racing and has already shown he knows his way around. For their part, stable-mates Wim Beelen (TDS Racing) and Jeroen Schothorst (TDS Racing) will be in the frame for the Gentlemen Drivers’ title and could even figure in the overall standings.
Jean-Charles Miginiac, a veteran of the discipline since 200§, and rookie Alessandro Bortesi, a recent graduate from karting, will race for Lompech Sport.
Another three men to look out for in the battle for the Gentlemen Drivers’ title are Toni Forne (Pujolaracing), Oliver Freymuth (AKF Motorsport) and Michaël Munneman (Algarve Pro Racing).
A big attraction for race-goers, the Eurocup Megane Trophy is all set to provide yet another colourful and action-packed season, one that will begin with the home fans roaring Costa on at Motorland Aragon in a few day’s time.