Skip to content

Driver Database News

The latest news from the world of racing

Archive

Archive for November, 2012

Escuela Española de PilotosEscuela Española de Pilotos is a racing team that participates in various disciplines of motorsport and is highly specialized in endurance racing. They compete at Britcar, VdeV and 24 hour races. They have achieved 18 titles, including in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula Toyota, Porsche Cup, GT, Classics and more… Their most recent achievements include successes in the Spanish GT Championship GT Light in 2009 and 2010 and in GTV4 in the VdeV in 2011 and 2012. Not to mention winning the 500 km of Motorland in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Maxi Endurance 48h interviewed Javier Morcillo, Team Director:

It is clear that endurance is your specialty. With what type of cars are you making these races?
JM. Cars like Ginetta GT4 or Mosler GT2. The Ginetta, which will run this race, is a car made specifically for endurance races. It is reinforced and designed for this discipline. It is the world’s fastest tank!

What do you think of Maxi Endurance 48? Do you like the challenge?
JM. Very much, it is undoubtedly the greatest challenge in the world for a car and a racing team. It is something new – and I don´t think anyone that has to do with endurance race will want to miss it.

What do you find so special about this race?
JM. Being the first is always very attractive. Drivers and teams that compete will be part of Motorsport History. On the sportive level is very attractive as a challenge for any amateur or professional from any angle. If we want to be the best team, this is the place and time to prove it.

Have you already completed the team?
JM. It is not completely finished. The technical team is the usual one, and is not only already formed, but is in great shape! The team of drivers is beginning to appear. We would love to have our regular drivers running together. At this time we are still looking for three more drivers for the places not yet confirmed.

What is your fare for the Ginetta per driver?
JM. We operate on € 19,000 per place. But it is noteworthy that we actually have three cars for that price, as we will have a second car as spare car plus a third whole car in parts. We will finish this race. Unless there is an accident, we will be in the end for sure. Our infrastucture is very strong, as we come to this race not just to participate, but to try to win.

What kind of drivers do you have? Who are your customers?
JM. Drivers specialized in endurance races. Our regular drivers make, in each season, six races of 6 hours each. They are well prepared and they know exactly how to bring a car to the finish consuming the least possible and driving as fast as possible. It’s really hard to get a group of drivers more prepared. I would be surprised to see a better team on the grid. I’m very proud of what our drivers have achieved in recent years.

What do your drivers think about the 48h?
JM. They are excited. They know it means to become part of the history of motorsport – and they want to be there. From day one that we talked about this race, a smile appeared on their faces… and that is something we love!

See you at the longest circuit race in the World?
We’ll be there! Maybe better to say’ See you at the podium’?…

Maxi Endurance 48h

Luiz Felipe NasrBrazilian racer Felipe Nasr will join Carlin for the 2013 GP2 Series. The 20 year-old will mount a championship challenge with the team that took him to the 2011 British F3 Series title following a promising season in the series this year.

Nasr’s rookie year in the GP2 Series saw him take four podium finishes, including an impressive third place in his first GP2 weekend in Malaysia earlier this year. Several unlucky races however, saw the British F3 champion finish the season 10th in the standings.

Nasr already has experience of Carlin’s GP2 car, having completed several tests with the team during official post-season testing. The Carlin driver was second quickest on both days in last week’s Jerez test, despite leaving Friday’s test early to attend this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Carlin’s strong form in testing follows three pole positions and two race wins for the team in the second half of the 2012 season. A dominant victory by Max Chilton at the season finale in Singapore not only finished the season on a high, but was also a fitting finale for Chilton who has graduated to the position of official reserve driver at the Marussia F1 Team.

Speaking about the season ahead, Nasr said, “I’m so happy to be coming back to Carlin. Not only is it the team that I won the British F3 championship with, but it’s also a team that I feel very comfortable with. Testing so far has gone very well. The Barcelona test was about getting used to the team and the Carlin car, and we were able to build on that this week in Jerez and show some real speed. I can’t wait for the 2013 season to get underway, for sure we’re going to have a really strong package.”

Trevor Carlin added, “We have had the pleasure of working with Felipe before and we know what he is capable of when he’s happy in the car. He is an incredibly talented driver and to finish on the podium in his first weekend in the series shows his outright speed and potential; in his second season I believe he will be a real contender for the title. We have had two very productive seasons in GP2, which thanks in particular to Max who has been with us from the start, have seen us develop and improve as a team. We’re aiming to start 2013 where we left off in 2012.”

Gregor Ramsay and Vincenzo SospiriSixteen-year-old Scottish rising star Gregor Ramsay has been signed up by ex-international racing ace Vincenzo Sospiri to contest the Formula Renault ALPS Championship in 2013.

Ferrari protégé Ramsay took a race win at Vallelunga and a podium finish at Imola in his rookie Formula Abarth season this year. Just 15 years old when the season started, he finished a highly creditable eighth in the European Series. Now he will drive for Sospiri’s Euronova Racing team as it re-enters the Formula Renault category.

It comes after two tests, at Varano and Imola, in one of Euronova’s Formula Abarth machines, in which Gregor created a very favourable impression alongside the team’s newly-crowned Abarth champion, Brazilian Nicolas Costa.

“We are all looking forward to the new challenge and to already have Gregor on board is a great start,” said Sospiri. “So far he has been very impressive during testing. He hit all his targets regarding fast lap times and consistency, which is very important.

“I believe that Gregor and I will work together very well and that he will develop into an excellent racer capable of reaching the top. Based on what I have seen of him so far I have no doubt that he has the potential to be the next British motorsport star.”

The Formula Renault ALPS Championship attracts many of racing’s brightest young stars, competing at prestige Grand Prix circuits such as Monza in Italy, Spa in Belgium and Barcelona in Spain, as well as events in Austria and France.

“I’m very proud to be part of Euronova Racing,” said East Kilbride racer Ramsay. “I had my first tests with the team last week and they went really well. I was very comfortable in the car and the team were really good to work with.

“Vincenzo is an excellent driver coach and I have already learned a lot just from these two tests, so I’m really looking forward to next year. The Renault ALPS Championship is very competitive and we will be doing a lot of preparation over the winter in order to be at the front when the racing starts.”

As one of the leading young talents of his generation, Sospiri won the 1988 Formula Ford Festival and then the 1990 Formula Vauxhall Lotus title before moving into the international ranks. He became champion in Formula 3000 – the forerunner of today’s GP2 Series – in 1995 and graduated to Formula 1 with the short-lived Lola project in 1997. After racing in Indycars he switched to sportscar racing, driving for the factory Toyota team in the Le Mans 24 Hours and twice becoming an international sports-prototype champion before retiring at the end of the 1999 season.

In 2002 he set up Euronova Racing, and since then has run future racing stars such as Formula 1 racers Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov and Jerome d’Ambrosio, and GP2 talent Luca Filippi.

Ramsay, who is backed by Clyde Blowers as well as Europe’s biggest-ever lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir, will head off to the Ferrari Driver Academy, overseen by former F1 team chief engineer Luca Baldisserri, for more focus on his development as a driver. He will also continue testing with Euronova until mid-December, and will relocate from Scotland to the Sospiri family home in Italy, where he will continue his education and learn Italian and German.

The Formula Renault category will be boosted by the introduction of an exciting new Tatuus-built chassis in 2013, further cementing its position as the strongest and most competitive junior single-seater category in Europe.

LotusLotus successfully completed the 2012 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The team showed a strong performance at its first year in endurance racing. A pleasant conclusion of the season was the start from Pole Position at the 6 Hours of Shanghai.

At the end of January, the team has announced its participation in the sports cars championship that includes the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a first roll out, Lotus was ready for its debut in endurance racing.

The inaugural season of the FIA World Endurance Championship started off with the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, where just one Lotus LMP2 car was in action. Thomas Holzer, Mirco Schultis and Luca Moro were at the wheel of #31. The three drivers showed a good performance in the opening event of the 2012 season and finished the race in sixth position in LMP2 class and tenth overall.

At the 6 Hours of Spa, Lotus was running two of its LMP2 cars for the very first time. Kevin Weeda and former Formula One test driver James Rossiter joined the team in Belgium. The quick and talented Briton Rossiter qualified car #32 outright in the front row of the LMP2 class, just four hundredths of a second behind the Pole sitter. Due to a start from the pit lane after an engine change, Rossiter and his team mates Kevin Weeda and Luca Moro made their way through the field and finished the race in eleventh position. Thomas Holzer, Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande in car #31 were able to achieve their best qualifying result of the season and started from fifth position. The race came to a sudden end for them after a crash one hour before the lapse of time.

The team continued its journey to the biggest race on the calendar, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which also marked the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Because of sporting regulations and limitations, just one Lotus LMP2 car was allowed to participate in the legendary endurance classic. So, Thomas Holzer, Mirco Schultis and Luca Moro represented the black and gold Lotus colours at the Circuit des 24 Heures. The event was interfered by technical problems and led to a retirement early in the morning. Until that time, the car was running well in the race and all drivers showed a solid performance at their first participation at Le Mans.

The FIA World Endurance Championship went into a two-month break before the starting field was back in action for the fourth event of the year at the home of British motorsport. From the 6 Hours of Silverstone, Lotus was contesting with two of its LMP2 cars at every round of the FIA WEC. Former Formula One racer Vitantonio Liuzzi joined the team and was driving alongside Kevin Weeda and James Rossiter in car #32. The weekend of the Italian Liuzzi and his team mates went off anything but ideal having suffered engine failures in the practice sessions and the race. With Christijan Albers, a familiar face was back in a race car. The Dutchman replaced Luca Moro in #31, who could not be with the team because of private reasons. Albers enjoyed being back in a race car after a two years absence and together with his team mates Thomas Holzer and Mirco Schultis he finished the race in 12th position.

The second half of the FIA World Endurance Championship started off with the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo. The fifth round on the calendar was the first of four oversea races in a row and Lotus was in good condition in Brazil. After six hours, both Lotus LMP2 cars took the chequered flag. Car #32 was fighting for the podium, but after an unreasonable decision by the marshals, the crew lost valuable time in the garage and finished the race in sixth position. Car #31 was running trouble-free and was eight in LMP2 class.

Lotus was travelling with a positive feeling to the 6 Hours of Bahrain after the strong performance in the previous race. The round in the desert was special as the race started in daylight and finished at night. Unfortunately, Mirco Schultis was ill and could not take part in the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. So, just Thomas Holzer and Luca Moro were driving in car #31. The duo did well and Holzer had its best qualifying result until then. That it is very close in LMP2 category demonstrated the crew of car #32. James Rossiter qualified in sixth position, but just one tenth of a second behind the competitor in third position. In the race, Kevin Weeda, James Rossiter and Vitantonio Liuzzi were battling for a podium finish and proved once again that the Lotus LMP2 is competitive. The squad finished the race in fourth position just 30 seconds off from the second place.

The penultimate event of the inaugural season of the FIA World Endurance Championship took place at the foot of the Mount Fuji. The weekend started off with some problems for Lotus, but the team was able to change tack. Vitantonio Liuzzi qualified car #32 in third position, Thomas Holzer in car #31 repeated his best qualifying result with a start from eighth place. The 6 Hours of Fuji race started off well for both Lotus LMP2 cars. #32 was leading its class for a long time, but crossed the finish line in fifth position as a consequence of several collisions with competitors and an unplanned but requested change of the rear end. Thomas Holzer and Mirco Schultis in car #31 were on a solid run and had the pace to finish the race in sixth place. However, an alternator failure forced the German duo to retire. Nevertheless, the team was able to show another strong race performance before heading to the season final.

The 6 Hours of Shanghai marked the last event of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Lotus was coming highly motivated to China and wanted to end the season on a high note. LMP2 class winner Jan Charouz joined the team as Vitantonio Liuzzi was not able to race in Shanghai. It was a good weekend for the entire Lotus team with Thomas Holzer (#31) being second in the first practice and James Rossiter (#32) in front of his competitors in the second practice session. Both race drivers continued their trend upwards and achieved their best qualifying result of the season. Thomas Holzer qualified sixth in LMP2 class, whereas James Rossiter put his Lotus LMP2 car on Pole Position, which was a big success for the whole team. It was the first Pole Position in Lotus’ young history in endurance racing and a worthy reward for everybody’s hard work. In the race, Briton Rossiter was on a good pace and used his tyres not too hard, so he could keep up with the competitors. Unfortunately, the race for car #32 ended prematurely due to brake problems. Thomas Holzer and Mirco Schultis in car #31 had a strong race and achieved their best result of the year by finishing in sixth position.

It was a good and exciting first season for Lotus in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The squad improved continuously and was a serious competitor in the LMP2 category. The drivers and team members did an incredible job and worked very hard for good results. The Pole Position in Shanghai was the icing on the cake for a challenging but also successful first season in endurance racing.

Lotus is using the winter break to get ready for the new challenges in the FIA World Endurance Championship and is looking forward to competing with its own and brand new sports car, the Lotus T128.

Gabby ChavesUp-and-coming motorsports star Gabby Chaves returned to his racing roots this past weekend (November 16-18), getting back behind the wheel of a kart via the 16th edition of the world renowned Superkarts! USA SuperNationals presented by MG Tires in Las Vegas, Nev. The highly-regarded Claro/Marca Colombia racer promptly showcased his talents in the TaG Senior class, besting multiple karting champions to capture a superb win on SuperSunday, further highlighting Chaves as a true racing talent.

Chaves, like many formula car drivers, first started his motorsports journey in the karting ranks, winning not only numerous race, but also championships before making the move up to car competition. While the 19-year-old’s focus since 2007 has been on working his way up the junior formula car ladder – capturing the 2006-07 Skip Barber Regional Southern Series championship, 2009 Formula BMW Americas title, 2010 Italian Formula 3 Championship Rookie of the Year award, and finishing second in Star Mazda Championship this year – he has always maintained close contacts within the karting ranks. As a result, upon completing of his race-winning season in the Star Mazda Championship, Chaves was asked by Keane Racing to reunite with his mentor and coach in karts, Daniel Villa, for the prestigious year-end SuperNationals. Well aware that this was a great opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a competitive kart, Chaves immediately said yes to the invitation.

Racing in the TaG Senior class, the former karting standout knew he would be going head-to-head against a very large and talented field – 90 racers were slated to take part – as well as be battling multiple champions, including the World Champion Charles Leclerc, European champion Denis Olsen, Australian champion David Sera, and soon to be crowned American champion Phil De La O.

The action on the temporary course in the parking lot of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino commenced, as planned, with Chaves not only getting re-acclimated to high-level kart competition, but working with Villa to steadily develop his Tony Kart chassis for his driving style, the track layout, and conditions. Continually learning, Chaves was excited about his prospects entering the lone qualifying run, which would set his starting position for the three Heat races.

Chaves ultimately did not find the desired speed in Group 1 qualifying, the faster group, posting the 16th best time. Despite the result, the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy racer was confident he could work his way forward in the races.

With an eye towards getting quality finishes in all three Heat races, as the combined results would set the grid for the SuperSunday finale, Chaves got the ball rolling in the right direction in his opening race (Group A vs. Group D), avoiding the expected incidents and further improving his kart en route to a 12th place finish.

The talented racer, however, really began making his mark in Heat two (Group B vs. Group D), thanks a stellar drive to second place, following home the European champion.

With a strong follow-up sixth place finish in his final Heat race (Group C vs. Group D), Chaves secured a starting place among the leaders for the TaG Senior final at the 2013 SuperNationals.

As the first karts on track for SuperSunday at the SuperNats, Chaves did not have to wait long to showcase his talents in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Getting a great launch, the Keane Racing pilot was quickly part of lead pack, and looking for more. Mixing speed and aggression, Chaves was up to a sublime second place by lap 10 of the 25-lap affair. Within two laps he was in the lead thanks to well executed pass under braking. While he almost immediately relinquished the top spot, Chaves remained glued to rear of the new leader willing to bide his time and make his move later in the race. The opportunity came on lap 21, when he once again took over first place through another great overtaking maneuver. This time it was for good, as despite some heavy pressure in the final two tours, Chaves emerged with a spectacular win.

“It’s hard to describe how excited I am about winning,” stated Chaves. “We worked all week on going faster, and thanks to some fantastic work by my engineer Daniel [Villa] and the entire Keane Racing crew, I had great kart today. It’s a real honor to win at the SuperNationals, and a great way to end what has been very good season of racing.”

Chaves will now have a brief break, before resuming his duties as a FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy racer and working on preparations for the 2013 race season.

Those interested in supporting Chaves’ charge towards a career in the upper echelon of motorsports are encouraged to contact Chaves and/or his management team.

59th Macau Grand Prix15th - 18th November 2012CarlinCarlin’s Antonio Felix da Costa stormed to victory in the Macau Grand Prix today to complete an impressive season for the Portuguese racer and the British team. Racing in his Volkswagen liveried car, da Costa led every racing lap this weekend around the notoriously challenging street circuit. It was a typically eventful race for da Costa’s team mates, with Felipe Nasr the next highest Carlin car in fifth, Carlos Sainz Jnr seventh, William Buller 10th, Daniel Abt 12th while Jack Harvey retired in the pits minus his front wing.

Having won Saturday’s Qualification Race, da Costa took the top spot for the 59th Macau Grand Prix today. As the lights went out, it was the fast starting Felix Rosenqvist who briefly took the lead, but da Costa stayed calm to slip stream back into the lead in the run down to Lisboa.

Behind him, Sainz lost several positions from his fourth place grid slot, and spent the rest of the race fighting back from 14th place to the leading pack. Meanwhile Nasr had made a good start and was up to fifth. An early safety car halted racing action after Lucas Wolf hit the barriers, and at the restart, da Costa withstood the pressure to hold onto the lead.

With the track green again, da Costa still lead from Rosenqvist, Nasr was fifth, Buller was ninth, Sainz had recovered to 10th, Harvey was fighting in 11th and Abt was 14th. Keen to make up for the start, Sainz was on a charge and passed his F3 Euro Series team mate Buller and finished the race putting Pipo Derani under pressure, while Harvey was still on the edge of the top ten, but lost a position to Jimmy Eriksson.

Having recovered from a severe stomach bug which had hampered his weekend, Abt was on the move and passed Hideki Yamauchi. His team mate and British F3 champion Harvey was soon to suffer misfortune though, as he returned to the pits without his front wing after contact on track.

Macau served up its usual late race drama when Ryo Hirakawa suffered a heavy crash at R Bend and collected Lucas Auer in the process. The race continued without a safety car, but with yellow flags at the final corner for the remaining two laps. Da Costa however, remained in control to take an impressive Macau victory for the Carlin team.

Reflecting on his win, the Portuguese racer said, “I’m speechless but at the same time there’s so much to say. I was on the limit the whole race and Felix and Alex gave a really good fight. Thank you to the team and to Volkswagen for both a fantastic package and the opportunity to race here this week. It was an unbelievable weekend. So many amazing names have won this event, and it’s incredible that my name has been added to that list as well.”

A delighted Trevor Carlin added, “Antonio had a strategy ahead of the race, which was to let Felix [Rosenqvist] take the lead off the line if it looked close, rather than risk his car, and then take the lead back at Lisboa. He read the situation perfectly as that’s exactly what happened. He hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, and thoroughly deserves all the opportunities he’s getting at the moment. A huge thank you to the team who have worked so hard in the run up to this race, and of course to Volkswagen for providing a fantastic engine.

“We had a fantastic line-up in Macau this year, and the results show just how challenging this race is. Traffic in qualifying, safety cars, accidents, and even illness in the case of Daniel [Abt] can affect your weekend, but I’m very proud to have had these six great drivers with us in Macau this year.”

Felix RosenqvistFelix Rosenqvist brought his 2012 Formula 3 campaign to a strong close by finishing second in the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in China. Rosenqvist took the chequered flag just one and a half second behind race winner António Félix da Costa in Sunday’s 15-lap finale, as he became the first Swede to take to the podium at the event – which pitches 30 of the world’s most promising single-seater talents against each other – since Björn Wirdheim finished third in 2001. The Mücke Motorsport man ended the race as the highest-placed driver from the ranks of engine supplier Mercedes, completing a weekend that saw him constantly feature at the top of the timesheets.

“A very good conclusion to the year for us,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We have been as quick as anyone out there this weekend, and a podium at Macau makes the winter break a lot easier; even though I would have loved to win today. António drove a great race, though, and I just couldn’t get close enough to him on the straights to overtake. Still, I am obviously happy with the way the weekend went, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Mücke Motorsport and Mercedes for a great car – this wouldn’t have happened without them.”

Rosenqvist showed his intentions already in the opening free practice session on Thursday, going second fastest, and never falling outside the top five in any of the subsequent outings across the weekend. Having topped the second practice session on Friday, Rosenqvist was then on course for a lap that would likely have put him on pole position for Saturday’s Qualification Race in the afternoon qualifying showdown, only for a last-gasp red flag to force him to abandon his effort. Once the Qualification Race got underway, however, the 21-year-old quickly established himself in second place, a position he then maintained throughout the finale after having briefly led the event off the line.

“Macau is something truly unique, and I’m thrilled to have made the podium in the most classic F3 race of all,” Rosenqvist concludes. “We’ve enjoyed a fantastic second half of the year with four wins in the European championship, and this means a lot to everyone who has worked so hard to get us to this level. I am already looking forward to next year, and – regardless of what I end up doing – I am sure it will be something good.”

Felix Rosenqvist adds the Macau Grand Prix podium to his previous victory at the 2011 RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort, the Netherlands.

Alex MacDowall - leading in MacauAlex MacDowall was incredibly lucky to emerge unscathed from a horrifying, high-speed impact with the barriers at Circuito da Guia in Macau on Sunday, 18th November, after contact from outgoing FIA World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller during the final round of the 2012 season.

Bringing a bitter conclusion to an otherwise highly promising Macau debut for Carlisle 21-year-old Alex, the heavy collision at Mandarin Bend – the fastest corner on the 3.8-mile street circuit – also resulted in him missing out on a top three finish in the Yokohama Independents Trophy title race.

“Everything was going really well in race two, we definitely had the chance of an overall podium as well as an Independents one”, explained Alex, “[Yvan] Muller just completely misjudged it, I had to be careful not to hit Pepe [Oriola] in front of me as he defended but Muller just carried on flat-out behind, closed-in too quickly and just turned me round – it was definitely his fault.

“I was feeling pretty hot-headed afterwards but OK thankfully, it was a big hit with the barrier. It’s really disappointing, I’d had the lead just before and we were still on for a podium. It’s the hardest street circuit in the world and the kind of place where knowledge is everything, so to go there for the first time and be so fast was great. I definitely exceeded my expectations despite the collision.”

Alex had begun round 24 on the outright ‘reverse grid’ pole position, as well as the Independents Trophy pole, and although losing out to the expectedly fast-starting rear-wheel drive BMW of class points leader Norbert Michelisz off the line, the Briton hit back on lap two with a fantastic pass along the pit-straight to regain the lead.

Driving sensationally, the Macau rookie held an advantage of 0.9 seconds going into lap three, now over the works Chevrolet of Alain Menu, but the slightest brush of the barriers at the previous corner cost him significant momentum up the straight – enabling the Swiss driver to slingshot past into San Francisco.

The delay ended up costing the Bamboo Engineering driver another couple of positions as well, so dropped him to fourth overall and third in the Independents Trophy, but he quickly re-challenged third placed Pepe Oriola ahead.

On the run through the 235km/h Mandarin Bend though on lap four, as Alex was sensibly careful not to make contact with the defensive Oriola as the train of cars ran nose-to-tail, the pursuing works Chevrolet of Muller carried full speed through the turn and tagged the right-rear of Alex’s car which dramatically speared his Cruze head-on into the unforgiving barriers on the inside.

Sending his car into a series of worrying spins, with the front-end of the Chevrolet destroyed, the WTCC rookie was thankfully avoided by the oncoming train of cars streaming through the turn and he was eventually able to extricate himself safely.

“After I got the lead I was pulling away comfortably, as soon as I saw [Alain] Menu in my mirrors though I knew I needed to push harder”, said Alex, “Unfortunately, I just caught the barrier at the last corner after checking the mirrors again and that cost me momentum all the way up the straight. When Menu went by, I lost momentum again and that’s how the others got past.”

During the earlier 23rd round, Alex finished fourth in the Independents Trophy and ninth overall in a race which was compromised for all bar the top six due to a first lap tangle at Lisboa which led to the track being blocked.

As cars dueling for seventh collided, Alex was in the pursuing group and was badly delayed. When the track was cleared and the queue of stationary cars was released, the Briton posted consistently strong lap times and managed to climb into ninth and fourth in class – having started 10th overall.

After the final weekend of the season, Alex retains 11th position in the main WTCC driver standings, an impressive result in his maiden season in the World Championship, tied on points with 10th placed Mehdi Bennani. In the Yokohama Independents Trophy he rounded-out the year fifth in the table, just 17 points shy of the top three, during a season in which he claimed two wins and eight podiums.

Final 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Robert Huff, 413pts; 11th Alex MacDowall, 68pts

Final 2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Norbert Michelisz, 139pts; 5th Alex MacDowall, 105pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com.

Raoul OwensSingle-seater racer Raoul Owens will graduate to the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) in 2013 after today, Friday, 16th November, confirming a deal with championship challenging team Manor MP Motorsport.

The 18-year-old, who originates from Pembury in Kent but resides in Cape Town, South Africa, will make the full-time move to European-level competition after spending his first two seasons of car racing in the UK-based Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.

Although the 2012 campaign wasn’t as straight-forward as Raoul wanted, with a series of car issues hampering his progress, a switch to Manor MP for his competitive debut in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium last month underlined the potential of the new-found partnership.

“I’m really delighted to have signed a deal for next year with Manor MP Motorsport, to have our plans in place so early is a great start”, commented the British-born racer, “I really gelled well with the team when I raced with them at Spa, so we’ve got a great base to work from going into winter testing over the next few months.”

Manor MP Motorsport enjoyed a highly successful season in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC this year, the first for the squad in its current guise. At the end of 2011, multiple-championship winning Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition and established NEC and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 outfit MP Motorsport pooled their respective resources to create one major single-seater force.

During the maiden campaign for the newly amalgamated entrant, Manor MP finished second in the team and driver standings in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and additionally made an impact in the sister Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, the championship Raoul plans to progress into for 2014.

“Everyone knows the Manor name, there’s so much heritage in the team and they achieved a huge amount in Formula Renault UK over the years”, added Raoul, “It’s going to be fantastic being part of a team that worked with F1 World Champions like Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton in their early careers, it’s an amazing opportunity and one I aim to make the most of.

“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge, NEC is a really competitive championship and it’s on another level compared to Formula Renault BARC. The standard will be incredibly high but with a strong run in winter testing, I’m confident we can have a good first year in Europe.”

Beginning his motorsport career in 2006 in karting, the Bright Spark Ventures-supported racer won the Rotax Mini Max Regional Championship in South Africa the following year. He then stepped-up to Rotax Junior Max in time for the 2008 season, where he became Vice-Champion of the domestic series in South Africa and a World Finalist, before making the move into cars in 2011.

Raoul’s winter testing programme in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC begins next week with visits to Valencia and Barcelona in Spain. From there he’ll be back in action in December, at Portimao and Estoril in Portugal, before making a return to Spain for a trip to Jerez.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Antonio Felix da CostaCarlin’s Antonio Felix da Costa will start tomorrow’s Qualification Race in Macau from the front row of the grid following a disrupted second Qualifying session this afternoon. Having set a time quick enough to hold provisional pole overnight, Da Costa went into the afternoon session hoping to defend his position however three red flag periods meant he just missed out on taking pole. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr will start from fifth place while Felipe Nasr had an unlucky session during which he hit the wall – the Brazilian will line up sixth. Daniel Abt makes it four Carlin cars in the top 10 finishing ninth; Jack Harvey will start 13th and Will Buller in 17th.

In the opening minutes this afternoon it was provisional pole man Da Costa who was once again on the pace early on in his Volkswagen powered Dallara Formula Three car however there was very little time for the drivers to set a quick lap due to a red flag caused by Felix Serralles who had crashed heavily into the barriers.

When the cars were able to take to the track once again Nasr, Harvey, Abt and Buller all began going faster and soon set times quicker than they had during the first qualifying session – therefore improving their positions ahead of the Qualification Race tomorrow.

At the front however Daniel Juncadella was making his way up the grid and threatening to take the position from Da Costa however it was Alex Lynn who was able to make the most of a clear track snatching pole from the Carlin man.

However the session was once again red flagged following a crash into the barriers for Lucas Auer. Unfortunately for Da Costa this ruined what would have been a personal best time for him and giving him only one lap on his new tyres.

With just eight minutes of the session left on the clock it quickly became a rush to exit the pit lane, get a fast lap time on the board and find a clear space on the circuit. However in the quick turnaround it was Nasr who was next caught out by the barriers; unfortunately the damage to the car brought out further red flags and ultimately brought qualifying to an end.

As a result Carlin will start tomorrow’s Qualification Race with four cars in the top 10; Da Costa will line up on the front row next to pole sitter Lynn. Sainz and Nasr were closely matched in fifth and sixth respectively while Abt starts from ninth. Macau rookie Harvey will start from 13th following a strong session while Buller improved his time however will start in 17th place.

Looking ahead to the race tomorrow Da Costa said, ‘I really wanted pole position here but there were so many flags out on track with various incidents which meant I wasn’t able to get a fast lap in on my new tyres. But that’s the risk you take in Macau. We had a good qualifying yesterday so I’m pleased that has given us a front row start.

‘We’ve been strong in practice as well around here which definitely holds us in good stead for the racing this weekend and I’m looking forward to a good race tomorrow.’

Trevor Carlin added, ‘We’re reasonably satisfied with how qualifying went today however all of our drivers were compromised by the red and yellow flags over the course of sessions so we didn’t really show our true pace. We’re fully expecting all the drivers to make up some good places in the race tomorrow.’