Rowland eyes Formula Renault 3.5 crown at Le Mans as fellow Brits Aitken & Hughes reignite 2.0 title hopes

It’s now six wins from 13 races Briton Oliver Rowland in the international Formula Renault 3.5 Championship following back-to-back victories for him in his home round at Silverstone and then in Germany – results that mean he could clinch the title at France’s world-famous Le Mans circuit this coming weekend (26-27 Sept).
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Yorkshireman Rowland took second place in the first of two races as the World Series by Renault’s high-profile tour of events arrived in Britain at Silverstone at the start of the month. In race two he went one better to make it five wins from 11 starts in his Fortec Motorsport-run car for the near-perfect weekend – his prize as championship leader up to that point had also been to demonstrate an Infiniti Red Bull-Renault Formula 1 car for the crowds…

A weekend later he carried on where he had left off, winning the first of two races at Germany’s Nurburgring. Rowland did receive something of a reality check in the second race there, however, as rain caused havoc with tyre strategy and he scrambled home in tenth for a single point only after passing his closest challenger rival Matthieu Vaxiviere on the final lap!

Mercifully for Rowland, the conditions also caught out most of his chief rivals and he goes into Le Mans’s penultimate two rounds with a commanding 50-point lead over Lotus driver Vaxiviere.

That advantage is equivalent to two wins and if Rowland increases it at Le Mans he will provisionally be the new Champion with two races still to go (at Spain’s Jerez circuit 17-18 Oct). Former champions such as Robert Kubica, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz plus others to have won in FR 3.5 including Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastien Vettel have all gone on to Formula 1 stardom…

Meanwhile the team-driver combination to win at Silverstone and the Nurburgring when Fortec and Rowland were not in front was Strakka Racing-Tio Ellinas. Victory at Silverstone for the Cypriot was doubly sweet as Strakka’s workshop is but two miles from the circuit’s front gate.

Elsewhere there has been considerable British success in the Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater category that races alongside FR 3.5. Firstly, Jack Aitken, Harrison Scott and Jake Hughes finished 1-2-3 in the first of three races at Silverstone. Aitken, racing for the Korainen GP squad, then won again at the Nurburgring where there was also a breakthrough first victory for another Briton, Fortec’s Ben Barnicoat.

With four races to go Aitken and Hughes are third and fourth in the standings having closed to within 15 points of long-time leader, Swiss Louis Deletraz who endured a tough time in Britain and Germany, with a maximum of 100 still up for grabs.

Finally, championship leader Steijn Schothorst’s unbeaten record has come to an end in the Renault Sport Trophy for Renaultsport’s R.S 0.1 sport/GT racer. His brother (!) Pieter won at Silverstone while another Dutch driver, Roy Geerts, and France’s Andrea Pizzitola shared the honours at the Nurburgring – the latter is now just 10 points adrift of Schothorst at the top of the table.