Sacha Fenestraz, who has just been crowned the 2017 Eurocup Formula Renault Champion, is about to take up his next challenge. Between 16th and 19th November he will be at the start of the mythical Macao Grand Prix at the wheel of an F3 whose livery will be instantly recognisable by everybody. After a 34-year absence, the Vaillante team is back in the streets of Macao!
Sacha Fenestraz’s story is written from one continent to another and it knows no boundaries. He was born in France, grew up in Argentina and then came back to Europe to live his passion for motor sport, and the young 18 year old has just won the Eurocup Formula Renault title. He joins some big names in the roll call of winners that includes drivers like Felipe Massa and Pierre Gasly as well as Brendon, Hartley, Valterri Bottas and Stoffel Vandoorne!
During the 2017 season Sacha turned into a winning machine for the Josef Kaufmann Racing team. He clinched nine pole positions equalling the record in the category as well as seven victories confirming the opinion of all those who see in him a future great. Thanks to this title he will join the Renault Sport Academy in 2018, the programme set up by the Renault Sport Formula One Team to train young drivers.
But before thinking about next season Fenestraz will set foot on another continent. He’s heading for Asia to race in the Macao Grand Prix! There he will be up against the F3 elite on a circuit reserved for drivers who are real hard-chargers so the Franco-Argentinean is taking on a huge challenge.
The 6.2-km Guia circuit includes very fast curves taken at over 260 km/h as well as narrow twisty sections where passing is impossible. The format of the event is also very special with two qualifying sessions followed by a qualifying race whose classification decides the grid positions for the Grand Prix. So before climbing onto the podium the drivers have to overcome numerous traps!
Luckily, Sacha will have several aces up his sleeve. His Dallara-Volkswagen will be prepared by Carlin, which helped Lando Norris to win the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title this year. The British outfit has trained some of the greatest of the current crop of drivers and Sacha has been able to get used to its working methods in the last few months. Fenestraz and Norris have been firm friends since last season and they are both part of the ADD Motorsports management team: they have already agreed to work together to progress as quickly as possible on this very special layout.
In addition, Sacha will be able to take advantage of all the experience of the Vaillante team, which has decided to bet on him as he is now the surest hope in French motor sport. The no. 5 Dallara will be easily recognisable at first glance as it will carry the famous tri-colour livery.
The count-down has already started for Fenestraz who will arrive in Macao in around 10 days. The first practice sessions will begin on Thursday 16th November, and battle for pole position for the qualifying race on Saturday will be joined the next day. The Macao Grand Prix will take place on Sunday 19th November (see timetable below).
Sacha Fenestraz: “I feel that I’ve been living a waking dream in the last few weeks. Last weekend winning the Eurocup Formula Renault title was the culmination of an enormous amount of work carried out by the Josef Kaufmann Racing and ADD Motorsports teams. We never gave up and I made it a point of honour to finish the season with a victory. I’m also very proud that this result has led to my integration into the Renault Sport Academy. Taking part in the Macao Grand Prix is another dream that’s shared by all single-seater drivers. It’s a transition between now and the 2018 season. I’ve already had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Formula 3 prepared by the Carlin team in testing and then in an FIA European Championship meeting at the Nürburgring. I liked driving this car very much and I can’t wait to tackle the mythical Macao circuit. And finally it’s a great honour to carry the Vaillante colours. It’ll give the Argentinean crowd the opportunity to discover one of the most fabulous sagas in the history of motor sport!”
Michel Vaillant: “Thirty-four years after Steve Warson and Paul Belmondo’s double Vaillante is absolutely delighted to be back at the Macao Grand Prix. Personally speaking I don’t have great memories of this race as I was tagged by a Leader when I was trying to take first place. But Steve and Paul’s result was very important for the development of Vaillante on the Chinese market. So we’re very happy to team up with Carlin for the 2017 race and we’re all going to give Sacha Fenestraz the benefit of our experience. He’s a young, extremely talented driver and we hope that his ease on city circuits will help him to compensate for his status as a rookie. I’d like to add that it’s a bit ironic for Vaillante to be taking on Theodore Racing. In 1983, we were partners but this time we’ll be rivals on the track. May the best man win!”
Did you know?
- Michel Vaillant is a comic strip hero created by Jean Graton in 1958. He is probably the driver with the greatest set of results in the history of motor sport! Michel Vaillant is able to shine in every branch of motor sport, but he also has values and human qualities. He’s humble, loyal and courageous and he has ignited passions and inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.
- Rendez-vous in Macao is the title of the 43rd Michel Vaillant comic strip book that came out in 1983. The Vaillante team was caught up in an intrigue in which colossal industrial interests were at stake. And of course, it found itself up against its old enemy, Leader.
- In his three seasons in single-seaters Sacha Fenestraz has taken part in 76 races. He has scored 12 pole positions, 32 podiums including 13 victories as well as setting nine fastest laps so naturally he caught Michel Vaillant’s eye!
- On 9-10 September, Sacha Fenestraz took part in his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship meeting at the Nürburgring. He was fourth quickest in his very first qualifying session!
- In 1983, the year of the Rendez-vous in Macao book, Ayrton Senna emerged victorious in the Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher also won the race in 1990.
- While no Argentinean driver has yet won the Macao Grand Prix four Frenchmen have achieved this feat: Soheil Ayari (1997), Tristan Gommendy (2002), Nicolas Lapierre (2003) and Alexandre Prémat (2004).
- The Vaillante team is entered in the FIA WEC this season with Rebellion. The no. 31 Vaillante Rebellion is in the running to win the title in the LM P2 category.
- Sacha Fenestraz is the ambassador of the family hotel group. In Argentina, Brazil and France Maison Fenestraz offers its guests the opportunity to live exceptional experiences in places noted for their charm and refinement.
- José María ‘Pechito’ López, triple FIA WTCC (2014-2016) and Toyota driver in the FIA WEC, isSacha Fenestraz’s brother-in-law. Pechito won in the WTCC in Macao in 2014.