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PRE-SEASON TEST 3

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April 04, 2023

 

Featuring Matteo Keersmaekers, Marko Ferlic, Menno Klont and Ryan Elliott

GPVWC: Welcome to the 2023 GPVWC Austalian Grand Prix Team Manager's Press Conference. Today we welcome team managers Ryan Elliott of RSR Minotaur, Marko Ferlic of Super Venturi Minotaur, Matteo Keersmaekers of Edge eSports Quasar and Menno Klont of Edonis Engineering Reventon. Thank you to all of you for being here today.

Matteo, let's start with you. A superb victory for Edge with Jake Denehan last time out in Bahrain puts you at the top of the standings, do you feel like this is your championship to lose?

Matteo Keersmaekers: Good evening! We went into this year with a clear idea to go for the championship again. With both an experienced driver and a young talent we should have an excellent combination to do just that. Unfortunately Stephane had a penalty for R1 and a delayed flight stopped him from driving R2, so we didn't have the start we would have liked.

GPVWC: So would you expect performance to be even stronger for your team upon ex-champion Rouault's return? Is he expected to race this week? Sounds ominous if that is the case!

MKe: Obviously the team result as a whole would be slightly better indeed. Sandeep however gave us two strong finishes, especially in Bahrain when he jumped into the car 5 minutes before the end of Q.
Stephane will be back to race in Melbourne indeed, so I'm looking forward to see what he will do in his first race of 2023!

GPVWC: And we must talk about Jake - his junior career through the ranks of GPVWC highlighted him as a star of the future but did you expect him to hit the ground running so well?

MKe: I believed 100% he would be right up there fighting for podiums. But his results so far prove he also has the maturity to be a contender for the championship. He is driving very solid and has a lot of raw pace. His race in Bahrain was a very dominant display of that maturity and talent I would say.

GPVWC: Final question for you, on the basis of the first two races, there seems to be a vibrant mix of experience and newcomers mixing it up at the front this season. If you had to pick one team to keep an eye on as your closest rivals for the title, who would it be?

MKe: That's quite a difficult question, because there is indeed a lot of fresh talent in SL1 this year. THR seems very strong and I'm counting on Red Archer to join higher up in the coming races aswel. They both had some issues in the previous 2 races, so they will come back strong for sure.

GPVWC: Thank you Matteo, now from one mainstay of the grid to a newcomer to Superleague, Marko Ferlic of Super Venturi. Marko, just how pleased are you with the first two races of Super Venturi's SuperLeague career, seemingly renewing your competitive rivalry with THR from SuperLights?

Marko Ferlic: For sure it's been relatively a good start. Going into the season we didn't really have any expectations, so to have both drivers up there being able to fight in the top 10, I can't say I'm not happy with the outcome of the opening 2 rounds. Regarding other teams, we're not really thinking about anyone else at the moment, our approach has always been to just take it race by race and see where we end up towards the end of the season.

GPVWC: Indeed Super Venturi are the only team to register top ten finishes with both drivers in the opening two races. Despite it being early on, early signs of such consistency must be a credit to your driver line up, despite their relative inexperience in SuperLeague?

MF: I think so yes, both drivers have plenty of experience in GPVWC, Jukkapekka through his career has always been incredibly consistent with his results so to be able to rely on him to always bring home good points, it makes my job much easier. And with Jan as well, we all know just how quick he can be on his day. With the midfield it's always crucial to just keep your nose clean and pick up solid points each race so I'm really happy we've been able to do that in the opening 2 rounds.

GPVWC: With one eye on the future, what would be considered a successful season for the team on which to build upon for 2024 and further?

MF: We have to be realistic, as a new team we won't be to develop the car as much as teams around us so it's really important to maximze our points in the first half of the season. We don't really have any specific targets for this season, hopefully we're able to stay in that fight at the top of the midfield and maybe get in the mix with the front guys at a race or two.

GPVWC: Great, many thanks Marko and best of luck for the upcoming races! Next let's move on to Menno Klont of Edonis Engineering. Menno, this is your 9th season managing in SuperLeague, have you ever seen such a competitive and open grid?

Menno Klont: I think the quality of the grid in recent years always was quite amazing. 2023 seems not to be a change in this with quite a few great names from the past and present on the grid.

GPVWC: Great names from past and present describes your line up quite adequately too, with both Robin Pansar and Zsolt Szucs already registering top ten finishes, happy with the start to the season?

MKo: I'm quite happy with the start of the season. For us the season could have gone a bit better but also a bit worse. I guess Imola was good for Pansar and a bit less for Zsolt at his debut. Bahrain was a bit better in terms of raw pace but still we didn't gain as much points as we hoped for. But all in all its very close and the performances were not really bad.

GPVWC: So I think it's fair to say you are probably the busiest guy in GPVWC? How do you juggle team management alongside your role with in the community - especially on the Academy side of things - and provide an engine supply for customer teams?

MKo: I get a bit of help from several people, this makes my life a bit easier. For Edonis I still make nearly all the calls myself but I do ask quite a bit of feedback from drivers, partners etc.

GPVWC: And finally, you have seen a number of new teams come and go over the years, just how impressed are you with the new teams to grace the SuperLeague grid this season?

MKo: I think they did a decent job for now. For some of those teams it was as expected they would do well in the Superleague because they have quite experienced managers. but also some of the new teams got a late call to go to SL1 for 2023 so it's good to see that they all got a relatively good start to their season. It makes the series quite competitive and interesting. All teams have a decent shot at something in the races.

GPVWC: Excellent, many thanks Menno! Finally let's move over to Ryan Elliott who manages Powered by RSR. Ryan your team have picked up where they finished off the 2022 season with a highly competitive start to the season, confident of continuing that form into Australia?

Ryan Elliott: Save the best till last and all that! I'll be honest, it hasn't been the start to the season we wanted, and to be sitting third and saying that makes me feel really good. We've really struggled to maximise the new 2023 car, but since lap one at Australia with our new upgrade package, we feel more confident than ever before.

GPVWC: A remarkable fact of RSR's time in SuperLeague is you have managed to retain the services of the same two drivers each year. Just how important is that consistency to the line up and how pleased are you to see them both continuing to progress up the grid, especially Daniel Stepkowski?

RE: Funnily enough, not just each year, but every single round! Our reserve driver role has been a quiet one. Having two drivers year on year in my opinion is key. We've grown together as a team which is a really great feeling. We know how we all work which helps us know how to help one another get to that last little bit of potential. Daniel has had a real turn around since his first season. I remember him qualifying second last at his first race, now look at him! He has worked so hard alongside Tomasz to develop into the driver we see on track today.

GPVWC: You have previously been very open on your team's working partnership with another team on the grid. How important do you think this is for success in SuperLeague nowadays?

RE: It trickles down from the top, look at F1 with Red Bull / Alpha Tauri for example. A strong working partnership is key to success, it helps with R&D not just on the chassis side, but in our case we are able to feed directly into Minotaur and put our ideas forward to help build a strong package for all the Minotaur teams.

GPVWC: Finally, considering your role within GPVWC as a commentator for the SuperLeague events, you are as well placed as anyone to make a prediction on the titles, aside from your team and drivers. Who's your best bet for the driver and team's titles?

RE: Other than my guys, I think Edge and Jake Denehan are going to be the ones to beat. The R&D race will be tough for the new teams, and I think some of the people towards the head of the field currently may fade away as the season goes on.

GPVWC: Brilliant, this concludes the GPVWC Superleague Team Manager's Press Conference, many thanks to each of you for your time and thoughts! Good luck for the race meet!