Oliver Rowland made a winning return to action in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup at Most in the Czech Republic over the weekend, 31st August/1st September, with two outstanding race victories for Manor MP Motorsport and a richly deserved hat-trick of podium finishes.
The British 20-year-old, who more regularly competes in the blue riband Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 category which he is currently leading by a substantial 17-point margin, took the opportunity to gain some additional mileage in the NEC series and his class shone through.
Qualifying on pole position for Saturday’s opening encounter, Rowland led from the off and won by 1.5 seconds while also bagging the fastest lap in his Racing Steps Foundation-backed car with a time of 1m32.553 seconds (164.105 km/h).
Lining-up on pole position for race two as well, the Manor MP Motorsport racer dominated with a remarkable performance. Taking the chequered flag after 17 laps some five seconds clear of his nearest rival, he again recorded the quickest lap of the race – 1m31.547 seconds (165.908 km/h).
Beginning the third contest from fifth on the grid was always going to make a trio of podiums a tough challenge but Rowland made a great start and put together an excellent first lap to climb into the top three.
Remaining in third place for the duration, he crossed the line only 0.3 seconds shy of the runner-up spot and just missed out on the fastest lap by a mere 0.035 seconds. Despite having only contested six of the 14 races in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC this year, Rowland’s success rate means he departed Most an incredible sixth in the championship standings.
“We certainly hoped to challenge for wins this weekend in Most, but to take away two victories and three podiums in total is a fantastic weekend’s work – Oli did an outstanding job”, reflected Manor MP Motorsport’s Tony Shaw, “We had good pace throughout, Oli did what he had to in qualifying and then controlled the first two races. To make it three podiums out of three was incredible.”
Van Buuren celebrates maiden AUTO GP podium at Donington On a busy weekend for the team, Manor MP Motorsport was also in action in the UK at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit where Dutch teenager Meindert van Buuren secured his maiden podium in AUTO GP with an excellent runner-up spot in round 14.
While the 18-year-old’s podium sparked obvious celebrations, a likely double rostrum result in the second of Sunday’s two races was thwarted following a problematic wheel change during Daniël De Jong’s mandatory pit-stop.
Starting the ‘reverse grid’ race from pole position, van Buuren made a clean getaway to lead into Redgate for the first time while De Jong maintained third place off the line. Soon enough, though, De Jong moved into second following an opening lap excursion for Hungary’s Tamas Pal Kiss.
Although the leading group of drivers ran in close company for the first quarter of the race, from lap six van Buuren began to edge clear at the front as De Jong had his mirrors full with the pursuing car of Kevin Giovesi.
De Jong made his, ultimately costly, pit-stop at mid-distance from second position, a significant delay dropping him to almost the tail of the field. The 21-year-old went on to end the race in a frustrating 13th position, having been on course for an almost certain podium.
Back at the front, van Buuren led by almost four seconds and still held a three second cushion as he made his pit visit at the conclusion of lap 16. Emerging in fifth place on the road, van Buuren was second of those to have served their stops behind Narain Karthikeyan – who made his tyre-change earlier in the race – and went on to secure his maiden podium by maintaining the runner-up spot.
In the earlier 13th round, the Manor MP Motorsport team-mates both made good progress with De Jong climbing through the order into the top six, from ninth on the grid, while van Buuren managed to take eighth place from 11th at the start.
Reflecting on the Donington Park weekend, team principal Sander Dorsman said: “We’re all really delighted for Meindert to have his first podium, we knew he was capable of this but unfortunately there have been a few things which have gone wrong during the season. He did a great job in race two, controlled things at the front and we had an OK pit-stop. It’s a great result for him."
“We’re obviously very disappointed for Daniël, we’re pretty sure he would have been on the podium as well but we had a big problem in the pit-stop. Of course, the whole team feels sorry about that but he showed his pace during the first part of the race and did a great job.”
Brno in the Czech Republic will host the AUTO GP season finale, rounds 15 and 16, five weeks from now on 5th/6th October.