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Mike Verschuur gunning for top spot at Nurburgring

Mike Verschuur gunning for top spot at Nurburgring

23.06.2012: Having got under way at Spa-Francorchamps, the 2012 Eurocup Clio season continues at the Nürburgring, where a 30-strong field

Having got under way at Spa-Francorchamps, the 2012 Eurocup Clio season continues at the Nürburgring, where a 30-strong field is expected.

The three men setting the pace in Belgium were Marc Guillot (Milan Competition) and Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur), who picked up a win apiece, with Rafael Villanueva (Milan Competition), second on both occasions. Dutchman Verschuur has high expectations at the Nürburgring, however, having won there last year.

The opening two races of the 2012 Eurocup Clio campaign lived up to the tradition of the competition, with tightly bunched fields and no shortage of overtaking, much to the delight of the spectators.

When the dust had settled, it was Guillot, Villanueva and Verschuur who occupied the first three places in the standings. The 25-year-old Frenchman is clearly on a roll at the moment, applying all his experience in taking the lead in this season’s Clio Cup France and Clio Cup Spain standings and recording a win and a third place to take an early advantage in the race for the Eurocup Clio crown. Yet, as the Milan Competition driver will have seen for himself, the slightest error can be costly at this level, with no two races the same.

Meanwhile, Verschuur, Guillot’s main rival for the title, is devoting his energies entirely to the Eurocup Clio this season and has raced far less than the Frenchman. The 2009 Eurocup Megane Trophy winner was understandably delighted with his win at Spa and with only 15 points separating him from the championship leader, the Dutchman is full of confidence as he goes into round two at the Nürburgring, where he won his first race in the category last year.

But the two are not alone in having designs on victory in Germany. A double runner-up in Belgium and just four points behind Guillot in second, Villanueva is now looking for the win that will consolidate his credentials as a genuine contender. Currently in fourth, Robert Van den Berg (Harders Plaza Racing) impressed in the first pre-season tests and has continued in the same vein. Seventh overall in the 2011 Eurocup Clio, the Dutchman could be the surprise package of the season.

Cristian Ricciarini (Composit Motorsport) heads a group of drivers who have ground to make up at the Nürburgring. The 2009 Clio Cup Italy champion experienced some highs and lows in Belgium, taking third in race one and retiring in race two, though his extensive experience in single-model Renault Sport Technologies saloon and hot-hatch series will stand him in good stead as he sets about closing down on the leaders.

For his part, Oscar Nogues (Rangoni Motorsport), last year’s Clio Cup Italy winner, had little to show for his efforts at Spa, much like Simone Di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport), one of the big favourites at the start of the season.

Finally, two young hopefuls will be joining the Eurocup Clio field in Germany, namely Poland’s Wojciech Giermaziak (Motion Motive) and Spain’s Alex Villanueva (Dale Gas), who will be racing against his nephew Rafael.

- Blanca de Foronda photo Renault


23.06.2012 / MaP

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