Raoul OwensRaoul Owens brought the curtain down on an incredibly frustrating season in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone over the weekend, 6th/7th October, and is now focused on a fresh challenge as he prepares for his European race debut in a few days’ time.

Off the back of a season littered with mechanical woes and other issues, the 18-year-old Kent-born driver wasn’t disappointed to see the chequered flag fall on the final race of the 2012 campaign on Sunday afternoon – particularly after struggling with the handling of his car throughout the event.

Qualifying set the scene for the weekend with Raoul uncharacteristically 23rd and 25th on the grid for the two races. Things didn’t improve much in race conditions either, a lack of pace troubling the Cape Town-based teenager and ultimately leading to a vexing best finish of 19th position in round 14.

“At the start of the year I was happy in the car and it felt good but over the course of the year things have just gone in the opposite direction”, explained Raoul, “This weekend things haven’t been as we’d want at all, we’ve all been scratching our heads and it was impossible to pull a good lap time.

“We’ve definitely not shown our true pace this weekend, or for the majority of the year, which is obviously really disappointing. I’d hoped to end the season on a high but it’s probably been the worst weekend of the season really.”

Unhappy with the balance of his car, in race one on Saturday, Raoul’s difficult run was compounded when a drive into the points from 23rd on the grid came to nothing as he was dropped back to 23rd on the final race classification due to a time penalty.

Pushing especially hard in an attempt to extract more performance from his FR 2.0, the Bright Spark Ventures-backed racer was deemed to have exceeded the track limits at Copse Corner. Hoping to make amends in race two, the drive into 19th place was as much as the British driver could muster with handling problems again hampering his progress.

“It’s not been a season to remember that’s for sure”, he added, “We just need to focus on what comes next now and where we’ll be in 2013. The plan is to race in Europe and hopefully make the sort of impact we thought we were going to this year.”

Raoul’s first venture into competition on the European mainland will come next weekend, 13th/14th October, with a visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the season finale of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC). He will make his series debut with Manor MP Motorsport.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.