Formula Renault 3.5 & 2.0 title glory for Britons Rowland & Aitken

Britain is celebrating two major Renault racing titles at international level after Oliver Rowland and Jack Aitken clinched the Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup championships.
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Rowland secured the higher-profile FR 3.5 crown in early October at the world-famous Le Mans circuit in France where he equalled current Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz’s record of seven wins in a season.

He then broke that record this weekend just gone with victory number eight for his Fortec Motorsports team at Spain’s Jerez circuit. Rowland has also scored the highest ever number of points in a Formula Renault 3.5 season – beaten the record set previously by another F1 driver, Kevin Magnussen.

After winning the title at Le Mans, Rowland said: “"It was far from easy due to the fact that I've been under the weather all day which, on top of losing my fastest lap in qualifying, didn't exactly help. But we've done it and right now – illness or no illness – I'm over the moon.

“In saying ‘we’ I should make it clear that means everyone at Fortec who has helped to make this possible and the Racing Steps Foundation which provides me with such fantastic support.  Without their help – and the help of a lot of other people along the way – none of this would have been possible.”

Aitken’s Formula Renault 2.0 title came in rather more dramatic circumstances… The 20-year-old had gone into the final three rounds of the season at Jerez lying third in the standings.

Wins in both races on Saturday, though, meant he moved past long-time leader, Switzerland’s Louis Deletraz, into the championship lead with just Sunday’s final round to come.

So to Sunday’s finale and suddenly Aitken’s title chances looked to be vanishing as he was forced to start from the pit lane at the tail-end of the 27-car grid. He rose to finish an eventual 16 but was still outside the points as fellow Briton Ben Barnicoat won the race. Meanwhile Deletraz crossed the line in sixth – not enough to steal back the championship lead and the title from Aitken.

It has been quite a season for Aitken who during 2015 has also wrapped up the ALPS title (for Formula Renault 2.0 races in Italy, Spain, Belgium, France and Austria) and been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award (to be announced in November).

Aitken reflected on his Formula Renault 2.0 season which has not been without its lows – at Monza in July during an ALPS round he fractured his back in an incident.

But he said: “The two wins at Jerez on Saturday were a highlight as that gave us the comfort margin we needed for Sunday.” He added: “The difference has maybe been in the second half of the season – when things have become more difficult we’ve still been able to pull out the wins and the good performances and that is so important for a championship.”