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Seb MorrisSeb Morris called on all of his resolve and racing nous to deliver two battling points finishes during a frustrating first event of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup season at Monza over the weekend, 12th/13th April, having gone into the races on the back foot after a troublesome qualifying.

Ending the opening event of his maiden season in European-level racing ninth in the championship standings, the 18-year-old Welsh driver produced a superb performance in round two on Sunday morning to climb into the top eight from an uncharacteristic 17th on the grid. Post-race, that became seventh position when Raoul Owens was handed a five second time penalty.

In Saturday’s first round, the Caterham Racing Academy youngster had a thankless task after contact at the final corner on the opening lap dropped him to the tail of the 32 car field. Even though having to contend with serious front wing damage, he tenaciously fought his way back into 15th position.

“It’s been a bit of a tough one this weekend”, said the Marford driver, “We were quickest in practice and it all looked good going into qualifying, but there was a mistake with the tyre pressures which put the team further down the grid than we should have been. We were on the back foot really for the rest of the weekend, so we have to be satisfied with the race performances.”

Beginning the Monza weekend with a superb run in pre-event practice, topping the times as the only driver to dip below the 1m50 second barrier, the Fortec Motorsport racer was all set to challenge for pole position in qualifying but the incorrect tyre pressure choice led to a difficult run.

Starting round one from the eighth row of the grid, Seb was unceremoniously tagged from behind at the Parabolica on lap one and resulting contact to his front wing from another car led to a very long afternoon’s work. Fighting serious understeer for the rest of the race, the Jack Wills ‘Young Briton’ and TAG Heuer ambassador worked wonders to recover from the back of the field into the top 15

For Sunday morning’s second round, Seb lined-up on row nine of the grid in 17th position and was able to show more of his genuine pace as he carved his way through the order into an impressively strong eighth place. Working his way into contention for the top 10 on lap one alone, he emerged from a great four car battle with eighth place – later becoming seventh post-race – to bring a positive conclusion to the weekend.

“In race one I got spun round into the last corner, then I was hit round by another car back into the right direction but it ripped off the right side of my front wing”, explained the Elite Cymru driver, “I battled back through though and from being at the back we got 15th place which was good going, especially with the damage.

“Sunday’s race was much cleaner, we picked off cars one by one and made the best of a bad job really – it was a good drive. We definitely had the pace to challenge for the podium this weekend, and probably wins to be honest. We’ll learn from it, though, and hopefully do better at Silverstone.”

Next on the calendar for Seb will be a return to British soil for the second event of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC season, rounds three and four, which will take place at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on 24th/25th May in support of the Blancpain Endurance Series.

Photo by Insight F1 Motorsport Report/Jeroen Vermeeren.

Seb MorrisMonza in Italy, one of motor racing’s most lauded race tracks, will host the opening two rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup this weekend, 12th/13th April, where Caterham Racing Academy driver Seb Morris will have his sights set on achieving his first silverware of 2014.

The 18-year-old from Marford, who embarks on his maiden season of pan-European competition this year with leading British team Fortec Motorsport, makes his first visit to the home of the Italian Grand Prix – a race meeting he is relishing.

With enviable support and backing for the coming season, as well as his place on the Caterham Racing Academy the Welshman works with UK clothing brand Jack Wills as one of the company’s ‘Young Britons’. Seb is also an ambassador for TAG Heuer and last month he was invited onto the prestigious Elite Cymru scheme which is backed by the Welsh Assembly.

“I’m really looking forward to the first round of the season at the weekend, it’s fantastic to be back racing again – starting the championship at Monza is going to be pretty special”, said Seb, “It’s such a great track, with so much history, and the racing should be unbelievably close.

“Pre-season testing has gone well and we obviously intend to start the season with the best results we possibly can, but we know it’s going to be a challenging year with so many top drivers and teams in the championship so nothing can be taken for granted.”

In addition to his testing programme in recent weeks, the MSA Academy racer took the opportunity to contest last weekend’s opening rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Championship at Imola in Italy, the former home of the San Marino Grand Prix.

Qualifying third fastest in his group, which equated to sixth overall on the combined grid, Seb smartly climbed into the podium placings but ultimately had to settle for 12th position after being knocked out of third place by a rival. In round two he placed sixth after a strong drive, impressing among a field comprising a large number of second and third year drivers.

Turning attention to this weekend, following practice and qualifying at Monza on Friday, 11th April, the first race of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC season will take place at 14.05 (local time) on Saturday, 12th April, with round two scheduled for 09.55 (local time) on Sunday, 13th April. Live race coverage is set to be featured online at the NEC You Tube channel www.youtube.com/user/formularenaultnec

Dennis OlsenTwo strong top ten placements in this weekend’s race at Imola in Italy bodes well for the upcoming season in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup.

With three weeks left before the series begins, it was good for 17-year-old from Valer Østfold to be back on the track again to compete.

Through the sister series to the one he’ll run this year, he got a wild card and could line up for his new team, Prema Power Team.

Having qualified for the eighth position of 41 cars on both Friday and Saturday, it was a good starting point to go from.

In Saturday’s race Olsen quickly went up three places, and could smile at a good fifth place at the finish.

On Sunday he made a poor start and fell down to tenth, but managed to bring back the two places he lost before the finish.

A fifth and eighth place is the results after the first taste of competition this year.

Dennis Olsen is happy to finally be back in action again.

- It was a good start to the season before the Euro Cup and it was nice to know that I am well underway. I’m not entirely happy with the qualifying, but we got to the races pretty good. It’s okay to make small mistakes here, so I can do the best when it really matters, he says.

Olsen has ambitions to win the Euro Cup this year, and although a fifth and eighth place is strong, he is aiming higher.

- I wish I could have made the podium, but all in all it was a positive weekend. We’ve become stronger, both me and the team, and I feel secure in the racing situation. That is important to take with me into the first race in the Euro Cup, says Dennis Olsen

Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup starts April 25 to 27 at Motorland Aragon in Spain.

Photo by Prema Powerteam.

Chinese racer Peter Li Zhi Cong joins championship winning team Carlin for an assault on the 2014 Cooper Tires British Formula Three International Series. Li Zhi Cong previously spent time with the team during his participation of the Brands Hatch round of the British F3 Championship last season. Li Zhi Cong joins the team as the Series makes a return to some of the most respected and loved tracks in the UK – with a visit to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit also on the calendar.

Joining the hugely successful Carlin team Li Zhi Cong will have a wealth of experience to draw from within the team. The British team have won a huge total of nine British Formula Three titles – including most recently the 2013 title with Jordan King.

Carlin’s Formula Three team have a strong reputation for building careers; Daniel Riccardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Max Chilton and Kevin Magnussen all raced for the team in their early years before reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Li Zhi Cong joins the team and will look to take as much as he can from the team during his first full season racing within Europe.

Li Zhi Cong has spent much of his junior career racing in Asia; his previous experience has seen him take on racing in both single seater cars and GT cars. More recently the Chinese native became the GT Asia Series champion in 2013 and has been competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia; Li Zhi Cong also finished in a strong fifth position during the City of Dreams Macau GT Cup.

Li Zhi Cong said, ‘I’m pleased to be back with Carlin full time for the 2014 season. I enjoyed my time testing and competing with them last year at Brands Hatch and I can’t wait to start racing for them this year. I haven’t raced at many of the tracks however I’m confident that we can put some good work in on the simulator, enjoy a solid year together and learn as much as possible throughout the season.’

Trevor Carlin added, ‘We’re delighted to welcome Li Zhi Cong to the team for the 2014 season. He raced with us last year at Brands Hatch and while it was only one event he was a great addition to the team.

‘The Cooper Tires British Formula Three Championship is an extremely relevant championship for young drivers looking to learn their craft and progress through the motorsport ranks. We’re pleased to be competing again in such a great championship and look forward to the season kicking off in May.’

The first round of the season will get underway 2 – 4 May 2014 with the Cooper Tires British Formula Three International Series making a return to the Rockingham Speedway.

Jack BarlowThe Jamun Racing driver also starred in front of a capacity crowd at Brand Hatch (30 March) with a stunning recovery drive after stalling on the grid.

“Well, it was an eventful weekend!” was how he summed up the opening event of the season. “I definitely need to brush up my qualifying and starts, as that’s where it went wrong for me.”

The 18-year old from Hastings was ruing his inability to translate his blistering pace in Friday’s wet practice session into a front-row grid position when it really mattered. His frustration was further compounded 24-hours later when his car stalled at the start of Sunday’s race.

His own harshest critic, Jack was perhaps being a little too hard on himself. In a close-fought session against the clock, the top ten grid positions were separated by just eight-tenths of a second, with Barlow seventh-fastest.

“I didn’t get the best of starts,” he said after Saturday’s curtain-raiser. “I hadn’t even had the chance to practice a start before the race, so I dropped back and had to pick my way through the traffic.” Having got up to 4th Loughborough College student lined up Sam Brabham. “I got up to behind Sam, who really put up a fight and did a great job of defending, but he left the door open going into Druids (corner) and that was my opportunity to stick it down his inside.” When Brabham tangled with the driver behind him, Barlow was clear to bring his distinctive red Mygale home in a comfortable 3rd place – to claim his first silverware of the season.

A solid 5th place in the following race – despite struggling with a mishandling car – helped Barlow bank more valuable championship points. This put him into a respectable 4th place overall ahead of Sunday’s encounter in front of large crowds – attracted by the opening races of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

Thousands of fans had their hearts in their mouths as the Formula Ford field accelerated away from the starting grid, with several cars swerving to avoid collecting the stationary Barlow. After a few agonizing moments, his engine sparked into life and he streaked off in hot pursuit.

“You couldn’t see on the TV that I put in some proper, hairy moves!” he told reporters later. “I passed two cars going into Paddock Hill Bend and went round the outside of James Abbott at Druids.”

It was a scintillating drive, and one that moved complete strangers to congratulate him in the paddock afterwards: “People were coming up to me and saying ‘Were you in the red car? Oh man, you were awesome!’ and things like that. My team was delighted and even people from other teams were praising me for my pace and over-taking skills but I was just frustrated that I fluffed my start.”

Jack retained his 4th-place position in the points table and is now preparing for the series’ visit to Donington Park in Leicestershire (19/20 April). “Between now and then, I’m going to be practicing my starts!” he said – half joking. “If I can sort them out and find a little more qualifying speed, then we’ll be able to challenge for more podiums and hopefully, race wins.”

Jack would like to thank his marketing partners Skinners of Rye, Key Motor Finance and Corbeau Seats for their valued support.

Sean WalkinshawDouble engine failure during preparation for the opening round of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard in France this weekend prevented Sean Walkinshaw from showing his true pace on his debut in the category’s top class – the Briton having to settle for a frustrating 11th place finish.

Making his competitive debut with leading team Campos Racing, the 20-year-old from Chipping Norton had high hopes of a strong start to the Winter Series but an unfortunate engine blow-up during the first test session on Friday, 28th February, set the scene for an exasperating weekend.

While the Campos mechanics did a fantastic job to switch powerplants as quickly as possible, the track time lost was significant. Despite that, Sean was able to re-emerge on circuit halfway through the third run with a new engine bolted into his Dallara and he subsequently went on to give a clear indication of his genuine speed with the second fastest time in the rain-hit final session of the day.

Aiming for a deserved trouble-free run on Saturday, 1st March, the Oxfordshire driver began the day impressively with the sixth quickest time in the first of two morning practice sessions – especially noteworthy when taking into account his lack of dry track time – but, incredibly, a second engine failure followed.

Ultimately qualifying 13th on the grid for round one, Sean managed to make progress over the course of the 14 laps to end the race in 11th position, just 1.5 seconds outside the top 10. Having circulated with top five pace, the event turned out to be a classic case of what might have been.

“It has been a frustrating start to the Winter Series, that’s the best way to sum it up, but there are some positives to take away”, said a phlegmatic Sean, “We definitely had the pace when I was able to run without any issues, my car felt great, but the engine problems limited our running and then impacted on qualifying. We did what we could in the race.

“The organisers of the championship have been great and taken full responsibility for the engine problems and the Campos guys did a fantastic job changing engines, it’s just unfortunate we had two blow-ups. We know we can be quick in the next round at Barcelona, we tested well there before Christmas so I’m confident and definitely looking forward to it.”

Round two of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series will take place a fortnight from now on Saturday, 15th March, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Pre-event testing will precede the race meeting at the Barcelona track on Friday, 14th March.

Cameron TwynhamBRDC Rising Star Cameron Twynham continued his preparations for this year’s EuroFormula Open campaign with an encouraging display in the opening Winter Series round at Paul Ricard on Saturday (March 1).

The 18-year-old from Market Harborough made an excellent start to his weekend during Friday testing, overcoming small technical problems to record the day’s fastest lap during the second session. That dominance continued in the wet third session when the Team West-Tec driver set a blistering time that only two of his rivals managed to get within a second of.

Saturday’s qualifying session therefore promised much, before a problem with his car’s Electronic Control Unit – which significantly impacted on straight-line speed – hampered preparations during the morning’s final practice.

Unbowed, Twynham pulled out all the stops in qualifying to set a lap good enough for fourth on the grid and only 0.310sec shy of pole position. Having registered his personal best through sector one and the session’s quickest through the second, only a small error towards the end of the lap cost him a place on the front row. But by going a second quicker than he’d managed in testing, the MSA Academy ace was still understandably pleased with the effort.

“My pace on Friday was brilliant, and to top the timesheets for the first time was a great feeling,” enthused Twynham. “With the upgraded engines in 2014, we will all experience a few problems here and there and it seems I had my fair share this weekend. But my engineer Jonathan Kennard and coach Ollie Millroy did an incredible job of pinpointing the problem on Saturday morning and getting me ready for qualifying.

“The session was easily the best of my career, and I was very close to cracking the top-two, although I’ve still not put a full lap together with a car that is fully operational, so there’s still plenty more to find.”

Come the afternoon’s race, Twynham initially made a superb start only to lose momentum avoiding a sluggish Alex Palou, which relegated him to fifth by the end of lap one. Despite this, the leading Team West-Tec driver managed to hold off the Spaniard thanks to some great defensive driving over the 14-lap contest, providing plenty of positives ahead of the final Winter Series round and upcoming EuroFormula Open season.

“I’m incredibly happy with how the weekend went, although the race proved to be a defensive exercise to maintain fifth as I didn’t have the right set-up, but I enjoyed the battle nonetheless,” explained Twynham. “I exceeded my targets for this weekend, which gives me enormous confidence going into the second round of the Winter Series at Barcelona.

“I have to thank all my family and sponsors for their incredible support this weekend, in addition to all my fans on social media who also showed incredible faith in me once again.”

The final round of the Winter Series takes place at Barcelona on March 14/15, giving Twynham another opportunity to prepare for the first EuroFormula Open event at the Nurburgring on May 2-4.

Welsh racing driver Seb Morris has received yet another big boost ahead of his maiden season of competition in Europe this year, having been invited by Sport Wales to be part of its prestigious ‘Elite Cymru’ scheme.

Marford-based Seb, who was recently confirmed as the newest member of the Caterham F1 Team’s Racing Academy, is incredibly proud to be representing Sport Wales throughout his first year in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) and is delighted to receive such key support.

Fittingly notified of his selection for the Elite Cymru program on St David’s Day, Saturday, 1st March, the 18-year-old is determined to proudly fly the flag for his home nation as he strives to challenge for the NEC crown with top team Fortec Motorsport.

“It really is a fantastic honour to have been invited onto the Elite Cymru scheme and I will do my utmost to justify the support of everyone at Sport Wales”, commented Seb, “This season is going to be the most important of my career by far and with the backing of Sport Wales and the Caterham Racing Academy, I’m in a very privileged position.”

Inaugurated in 1997, the Elite Cymru scheme has solely covered non-Olympic sports such as motor racing and snooker, Commonwealth Games sports such as squash and bowls or sports which medal on a world level, such as golf, since 2006.

Receiving National Lottery funding, and supported by the Welsh Assembly Government, Sport Wales works tirelessly to champion all sports while nurturing and helping to develop the best young talent the country has to offer.

Seb’s first races in the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup will come at Monza in Italy over the weekend 12th/13th April. Before then, officially timed pre-season testing will take place at Hockenheim in Germany and Assen in The Netherlands at the end of March.

Cameron TwynhamUp and coming British racing driver Cameron Twynham will enter the new season as a BRDC Rising Star after his breakthrough 2013 campaign was recognised by the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

The Market Harborough teenager is currently preparing to move into the top tier of Euroformula Open (formerly European F3 Open) with the same Team West-Tec squad that helped him finish runner-up in last season’s Copa Class.

The 18-year-old follows in the footsteps of Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in gaining the distinction after being scouted by a member of the ‘Rising Stars Panel’. Indeed, the scheme has a track record of promoting only the most promising individuals, with Twynham’s selection coming just three months after he was added to the MSA Academy.

What’s more, Twynham will carry the BRDC Rising Star’s instantly recognisable blue roundel on his car throughout the 2014 season.

“The Rising Stars news came as a bit of a shock; I didn’t know anything about it until I received a letter in the post asking me to attend an interview,” admitted Twynham. “I’d like to think they chose me for my performances last season. 2013 went really well, and it will be very important to use the BRDC Rising Stars title this year. It will certainly be an advantage in terms of networking, as we will have a much better idea of who to speak with, and I think it will be good for my career overall.”

Unwilling to rest on his laurels, Twynham was busy preparing for the upcoming season in Jerez, Spain, last weekend where he gained valuable mileage in the Dallara F312 chassis he will campaign this year.

Further testing takes place at Paul Ricard next Friday (February 28) ahead of Twynham’s first competitive outing of the year just a day later when the Euroformula Open Winter Series begins. The former French Grand Prix venue has proven a happy hunting ground before, with the Brit scoring his maiden F3 victory there in 2013.

“I was really happy with how testing went, though we still need to work on the set-up. We are constantly improving, but there is a lot more to come. The F312 chassis is totally different, and it will take some getting used to how it handles in the corners.

“That said, I think we can instantly be on the pace at Paul Ricard. And hopefully we can make the podium again, just as I did in my first F3 race there in the 2013 Winter Series. Of course winning, like we managed in the main series’ opening round last season, would be even better, but it’s important to bear in mind that we’ll be treating it as a test session to prepare for the new season. We’ll be doing a lot of work between now and the first race to ensure we are in the best possible position for the opening Euroformula round in May.”

Following the conclusion of the two-round Winter Series at Paul Ricard and Barcelona (14/15 March) Euroformula Open travels to the Nurburgring in Germany for its opening event on May 2-4.

Seb MorrisFormula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup racer Seb Morris has today, Monday, 3rd February, been confirmed as the latest addition to the Caterham Racing Academy – meaning the 18-year-old will compete in 2014 with the full support of the Caterham F1 Team’s driver program.

Seb, from Marford near Wrexham, makes the step-up to Formula Renault 2.0 NEC this year with Fortec Motorsport after becoming Vice-Champion of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship in 2013 with Hillspeed.

Ending last season with one win and nine other podiums, he was also selected as a finalist for the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Outside the cockpit, Seb works with Jack Wills as one of its ‘Young Britons’ and as an ambassador for TAG Heuer.

Mia Sharizman, Head of Caterham Racing Academy, commented: “Seb is another outstanding addition to our list of Academy drivers. His talent speaks for itself and we are very pleased to be able to provide him with the full range of support available to all our Academy drivers as he makes the step up to Formula Renault NEC. He will be a strong contender for championship honours this season and, if, as we firmly believe he will, he fulfills his promise, the UK will have another serious motorsport talent to back.”

Seb added: “Joining the Caterham Academy is pretty huge for me. Matt Parry [2013 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Champion] is someone I look up to, and who I had a real battle with in the McLaren Autosport Awards.  I am following his footsteps this year, both as a Caterham driver and in NEC and I am looking to win it as Matt did.  To be part of an F1 team, with all the support and knowledge that brings, is a massive step forwards for my career.”

Seb’s motorsport career began in 2007 when he started racing karts aged 11. By 2010, he had progressed to the Ginetta Junior Championship where he showed his ability and became the youngest ever podium finisher and Winter Series Champion at 14-years-old. In 2011, Seb won the main Ginetta Junior title and was also awarded the Welsh Young Driver of the Year accolade.

In 2012, Seb was selected as a member of the Motor Sports Association (MSA) Academy and was also named a British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star. He moved into single-seater racing in the UK based Protyre Formula Renault Championship and finished the season as the highest placed rookie and third overall. He followed this by becoming the Winter Series Champion.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey PHotography.