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.