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Category: Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup

Melville McKee - Motorland AragonOliver Rowland got Manor MP Motorsport’s Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season off to a successful start at Motorland Aragon in Spain on Sunday, 28th April, by racing to a tremendous podium finish in the second encounter of the weekend – the British driver ending the event sixth in the points table.

With torrential rain having a major bearing on the track action throughout the season-opening race meeting, the first two rounds of 2013 were challenging to say the least for all involved but in round two the former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner produced a spectacular drive.

The action started behind the Safety Car due to the treacherous conditions but when the racing proper got underway, Rowland made an outstanding start from fifth place to immediately slice past Jake Dennis and Luca Ghiotto to move into third.

Attacking second placed Egor Orudzhev, Rowland tried everything he could to carve open an opportunity but with the severe spray making any chance of overtaking near to impossible the Briton eventually – and very sensibly – settled for third position.

“It wasn’t like Spanish weather this weekend”, reflected Manor MP Motorsport’s Tony Shaw, “Rain, rain and more rain, it was non-stop. We’re pretty happy how it all turned out though and it’s great to be on the podium on the first weekend.

“Qualifying for race two went well for Oliver, it was very close between the top three guys and any one of them could have been on pole. Anyway, we started P5 with him and he had a mega start, he was definitely quicker than the guy in second place but the visibility was really bad so he chose to take the points for third which was the right thing.”

In round one on Saturday, 27th April, Rowland also finished in the points in 10th position after a fairly sedate race. Starting in ninth, he slipped to 10th early on before regaining ninth but was pushed back once again to 10th place three laps from the end.

Fellow Briton Melville McKee did a superb job on his first outing at the wheel of the brand new 2013 FR 2.0 car and produced two excellent races. Making a sensational start from 16th on the grid in round one, McKee scythed his way through into the top 12 on the first lap alone and remained there until late in the race when he gained one more position at the expense of the retiring Ed Jones.

In the Safety Car-started second round, McKee moved up from 12th place to 11th when racing began and climbed into the points-paying top 10 on lap six. Holding station for the next four laps, only the slightest error on the final tour prevented him from taking away some points as he slipped to 11th.

“Melville did a really good job all weekend”, said Shaw, “In the first race he was very strong and in race two only a small mistake at the end cost him some places. It really was a shame, he deserved to be in the points but, nonetheless, he did a really good job and especially as he’d never driven this new spec of Formula Renault before the weekend.”

Argentinian racer Javier Merlo had a very eventful debut outing in race one with a continually chopping and changing order just outside the top 20. Moving into 24th on lap one, he slipped back, regained a position and then dropped back again before having to finally settle for 26th position at the chequered flag.

In the incredibly difficult rain-lashed second race on Sunday, which offered a particularly steep learning curve for the South American, he progressed from 32nd on the 37-car grid into 29th position but eventually had to settle for 30th place at the finish.

Shaw said: “Javier just needs more track time, it wasn’t such an easy weekend for him with the rain – it made it difficult to get into a rhythm and learn. All he needs is time in the car and to adjust to being at this level, Eurocup is really competitive but he will get stronger as the season goes on.”

Rounds three and four of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season will take place on 1st/2nd June at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Provisional 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Standings (after Rd2):
6th Oliver Rowland, 16pts; No Score – Melville McKee & Javier Merlo

Provisional 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Team Standings (after Rd2):
5th Manor MP Motorsport, 16pts

Photo by Dutch Photo Agency.

Lotus F1 Junior TeamLotus F1 Team is proud to announce its roster of drivers for the newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team. The seven drivers announced today will be supported by the team in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.

The seven drivers will contest within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team;
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”

The 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team
Marco Sørensen, 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Marlon Stockinger, 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Alex Fontana, 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
Oscar Tunjo,17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
Esteban Ocon, 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
Alexander Albon, 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
Dorian Boccolacci, 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse

Q&As with the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team Drivers

Marco Sørensen – Denmark – World Series by Renault

How did you come to be involved with the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme?
At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it’s great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.

What are your targets for this season in World Series by Renault?
I had some bad luck last year where mechanical issues ended my race whilst in the lead which meant P5 in the championship when it could have been more. At the end, it all comes down to results; if you don’t perform then you won’t progress, so I’m hoping for a bit more good fortune this year and am looking forward to taking on a new challenge with the Lotus F1 Junior Team.

Marlon Stockinger – Philippines – World Series by Renault

How significant is joining the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme to your career?
It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.

It’s a big year for you making the step up to World Series by Renault; what are your thoughts heading into the season?
Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses.

Alex Fontana – Switzerland – GP3 Series

Being part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team must be a big boost to your ambitions?
Definitely! I haven’t been part of a management programme before and it’s always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it’s great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.

This will be your first full year in the GP3 Series; what are you looking for from your debut season?
I competed in a couple of races last year alongside the FIA Formula 2 championship and managed to take P4 in Spa, so I have had a good introduction to the championship already. This year the cars have changed slightly and will have a bit more power so it’s not going to be an easy transition, but my aim is to prove my ability over the course of the season and hopefully move on to the GP2 Series or World Series by Renault next year. If you want to get into Formula 1 – which is the ultimate target for any young driver in single-seater categories – then these are the ideal stepping stones to the top level.

Oscar Tunjo – Colombia – Formula Renault 2.0

What does being a member of Lotus F1 Junior Team mean to you?
It’s a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I’ve been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.

You’re competing in Formula Renault 2.0 for the third year in 2013; what’s the aim for the season ahead?
I had a solid start in 2011 but 2012 was a tough year for me, so now I’m even more determined to come back and push for the championship. I feel like I have all the elements in place to make a strong challenge, so my goal is to be consistently at the front of the pack in every session; taking podiums and hopefully as many wins as possible along the way. My motivation is higher than ever to perform as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme.

Esteban Ocon – France – Formula Renault 2.0

How does it feel to be part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team?
I’m familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it’s great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I’m trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it’s important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.

You’ll be taking on the Formula Renault 2.0 series for the second season in 2013; with your debut done and dusted, what would you be happy with this year?
Winning the championship has to be the goal; even if I can’t win every race, I want to be one of the drivers at the front all the way through the season. Last year I learned that consistency is the key, so my aim is to be up there fighting from start to finish.

Dorian Boccolacci – France – KF2 Karting

You’ve been coming to Enstone since the beginning of 2012; how have you enjoyed it so far?
It’s great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.

You’re competing in the KF2 World Karting Championships this year; what are your aims for the year ahead?
The goal is always to win, and if you can’t win every time then to pick up the maximum points possible through the year is the most important thing. I managed to break into the top five in the World Championships last year, so the target is to be right at the front this season.

Alexander Albon – Thailand – Formula Renault 2.0

What does the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme mean to you?
It’s great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.

You’ll be tackling Formula Renault 2.0 for the second year in succession in 2013; what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Last year was a very tough one for me, so I’m almost thinking of this as my first real season. The first step will be to improve my consistency and take regular points finishes. With that baseline I’ll then be looking to push towards the top five, the podium and eventually race wins, but the priority is to take things step-by-step and develop a good solid platform to progress. Last year didn’t give me much of an opportunity to see where I stand, so I’m really looking forward to being able to show what I can do.

Bruno BonifacioBruno Bonifacio and Prema Powerteam will be back together in 2013. The 18-year-old Brazilian racer is set to join the Vicenza-based squad for this season’s Eurocup F.Renault and F.Renault ALPS series. A native of Sao Paulo, Bonifacio won the 2011 South American F.3 Light championship before ending up in third in last season’s Formula Abarth series. After having enjoyed a positive run with Angelo Rosin and his staff, he decided to continue a relationship that dates back to the second half of 2011. Bonifacio has the right potential to succeed in some high-quality championships like Eurocup and ALPS. His quick transition to Renault racing has emerged clearly in the latter stages of 2012, when he was lined-up in the last races of the Eurocup and in the Norther European NEC competition. The great results scored can be a perfect stepping stone for 2013.

Angelo Rosin – Team Principal
“We are proud and cheered-up for relying on the services of a fast and consistent driver like Bonifacio in two demanding championships like Eurocup and ALPS. This Brazilian driver is hungry for some serious success and battle with some high-quality opponents in a very competitive environment. I’m sure that Bruno has all what it takes to stay at the top consistently, and that consistency will be key throughout the year…”

Bruno Bonifacio
“It’s gonna be an intense 2013 season as we’ll be facing two top-notch championships. This is the reason I decided to stay with Prema, an extremely competitive and professional team that work hard on every single detail. I’ll be at my second season with them after the fantastic 2012 experience in the F.Abarth Series. I look forward to hit the podium as frequently as possible, both in the Eurocup and in the ALPS championships, and enjoy the same positive feeling I experienced in the final few races of the F.Renault championships”

Gustav Malja17-year-old Gustav Malja is ready for the next challenge in his international formula car career, when he in 2013 takes the step up to the highly competitive Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. Malja has signed for the German top team Josef Kaufmann Racing, who brought both Dutchman Robin Frijns (newly appointed test driver for Sauber in Formula 1) and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne to gold in the championship in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup attracts one of the largest starting field of nearly 40 cars, and is part of the event package World Series by Renault. Malja – who finished second in the German ADAC Formula Masters in 2012 – will also participate in the three selected rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) during the season.

- This is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I am incredibly happy – and honored – for this opportunity with such a successful team as Josef Kaufmann Racing is, says Gustav Malja. Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup is an enormously tough championship which will take place at some of Europe’s premier race tracks, and I am convinced that this is the right environment for my continued development as a driver. I’ve already tested with the team on several occasions in the winter and thrive in their way to work. As a newcomer in the championship, I have to be realistic, and I’m very humbled by the challenge that awaits. It is great to have everything ready already at this early stage, and I’m really looking forward to getting started with the season!

Josef Kaufmann Racing was founded in 1982 and has over the years worked with drivers like Gerhard Berger, Nico Hülkenberg, Esteban Gutiérrez, Christian Vietoris and Sébastien Buemi. For Malja awaits initially a series of pre-season tests in the south Europe, where he gets a first chance to get acquainted with the new car introduced in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup for 2013.

- We are very pleased to have Gustav on our side in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013, says Josef Kaufmann (Team Manager, Josef Kaufmann Racing). He showed how talented he is in the ADAC Formula Masters in 2012, and was the most consistent driver in the championship. He continued to impress us during the winter tests – despite his limited experience – and we are confident that he will be a force to reckon with even as a rookie next season. Competition in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup is fierce and gives Gustav a perfect opportunity to develop behind the wheel, and together we are well prepared for a successful 2013.

The season opener of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup takes place in Motorland Aragon, Spain, 27-28 April. The overall winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup will be rewarded with a check for €500,000 by French Renault Sport.

Will StevensBritish racer Will Stevens took his eighth points-scoring finish in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship with ninth place in race two at Silverstone today. Despite suffering from understeer the Oxshott, Surrey, ace posted the fourth fastest time in his qualifying group and headed into the race hoping to repeat the form that took him to his sixth podium finish of the year yesterday.

The formation of the grid for the races are dictated by the driver with the fastest lap time overall from both groups taking pole position and the rest of the drivers in that group aligned behind, meaning the 20 year-old would start from the fourth row. At the start of the 14 lap race around the new Silverstone Arena circuit Stevens was looking for a good getaway to help his chances, and a fast start allowed him to get the jump on Carlos Sainz into turn one. Heading into the Maggotts/Becketts complex however, Daniil Kvyat found a way past demoting Stevens to eighth before the end of lap one.

For the opening three laps Stevens held eighth until a rare minor error allowed a recovering Sainz to repass him. Over the closing laps, Stevens increasingly struggled with lack of grip and consequently it was impossible for him to progress any further up the field. Regardless, Stevens’ skill ensured he held fast to secure ninth and another point-scoring finish.

His Silverstone form secures fourth in the championship standings, with four races remaining. With just two DNFs, due to mechanical problems in Spain’s opening race and Hungary’s second race being the only blips in an otherwise points perfect season so far, Stevens now turns his focus to the penultimate series rounds at Paul Ricard.

“In qualifying we underestimated the track change from yesterday and had a lot less grip and a bit of understeer in the high speed corners,” said Will. “In the race I made a good start and managed to get by Sainz going into the first corner. We had quite a good pace at the beginning but then I lost the place to Kvyat who got the run on me out of Becketts.

“Then I started to struggle with understeer and a lack of grip, which resulted in me making a mistake coming out of Club allowing Sainz to get past. The pace went right off towards the end, particularly in sector one and sector three, we just didn’t have the balance right.

“But, looking ahead, we go into the next rounds the way we always do, looking to win. So now we’ll go back and look at the data and see where we struggled today and hopefully we can sort it all out before Paul Ricard.”

The next double-header rounds at Paul Ricard, France take place over the weekend of 17/18 September.

Will StevensWill Stevens took his sixth podium finish of 2011 with third place in the opening Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship race at Silverstone today. The 20 year-old Surrey racer got up to second on lap three and had race victory in his sights two laps from home, but eventually had to settle for third.

The BRDC Rising Star opened his Formula Renault Eurocup account with victory in Alicante in April and his aim to return to winning ways on his home track got off to a good start. With the 38-car grid split into two for qualifying, Stevens posted the second fastest time in his group to net him a second row start for the first of two races on the new Silverstone Arena circuit.

Before the start a rain shower threatened but despite that Stevens made a good getaway to hold third into turn one, behind his two main series rivals Robert Frijns and Carlos Sainz. With news of an impending drive through penalty for Sainz, for receiving a push start from his mechanics, Stevens wisely elected to hold station.

On lap three Sainz duly pitted for his penalty, allowing Stevens to set about closing down the gap to Frijns ahead, and was the fastest driver on track as he closed up to the back of the leader. However in typical Silverstone fashion, the rain was now falling heavily around the back of the circuit and making conditions tricky to judge.

Two laps from home Stevens saw a chance to wrest the lead from Frijns, when they closed up to lap a slower car. On an increasingly greasy track, Stevens had a tough decision to make about which side to attempt to pass Frijns, with a damp track one side and tyre debris the other.

The former British, European and Asian-Pacific kart champion chose the left but Frijns moved over, pushing Stevens towards the grass and forcing him to back out of the move. Then on the very final corner, Frijns braked early, forcing Stevens to do the same, which allowed Alex Riberas through, demoting Stevens to third.

“I made a good start and good momentum put me in a position to pass Sainz early on but didn’t want to lose time in the early stages,” Will explained. “Then I heard from my Fortec team about his drive-through penalty so it wasn’t worth taking any risks.

“As the race progressed, the track conditions became very tricky, particularly around the back of the circuit where it was quite damp and we were all sliding wide. Frijns caught a backmarker two laps from the end and got held up slightly which allowed me to close right up. I had a tough decision to make in a split second as to which side to try and pass him, it was difficult to judge because the track was damp on one side and had lots of tyre rubber on the other, but I had a go and he moved over, forcing me towards the grass, so I had to back out.

“Then at Brooklands on the final lap he braked much earlier than usual, probably in case it was slippery, and so I did too. This allowed Alex (Riberas) to get the run on me, which is a little disappointing as I really thought we could have had a win today. We had the pace so hopefully we can come back tomorrow with another strong qualifying and get that home win.”

Sunday’s qualifying session will take place at 12.00 and the lights will go green on the 25-lap race two at 15:35.

Will StevensWill Stevens will be aiming to return to winning ways and the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup podium on home soil as the premier single-seater series holds its only UK round of the season at Silverstone on August, 20-21.

The 20 year-old has been on fine form this year, opening his debut Formula Renault Eurocup account with his first race win at the Spanish circuit of Motorland Aragón in April. The Surrey star has also claimed three pole positions and a trio of podiums in the series so far this season, including a pair of second-place finishes at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium.

Despite a challenging time at the last Hungaroring rounds, Stevens lies fourth in the championship fight 61 points behind the leader. With six races remaining and 150 points still up for grabs the Fortec Motorsport driver has everything to play for, starting with a welcome return to the podium around the new Silverstone Arena circuit.

Stevens is primed in preparation for his big home race. His second Formula Renault UK guest appearance of the year at Snetterton earlier this month added another second-place finish to his season tally after taking the same result at Brands Hatch at the beginning of the year.

The World Series by Renault showcase is expected to attract over 50,000 spectators to the free event at the Northamptonshire track and the former British, European and Asian-Pacific kart champion will be hoping his British fans will be cheering him to victory this weekend.

“I’m really looking forward to Silverstone this weekend and hopefully it will see a return to form and the podium,” said Stevens. “We had a very positive outing last time at Snetterton in the domestic series and learnt a lot so I’ll be looking to improve on that performance in front of my home crowd.

“When you’re competing in a European series, it’s always a boost to race at your home event and I’m excited now to be racing on the new Silverstone layout. Following the strong start to the season in Eurocup, and with five combined podium finishes this season, nothing less than another podium will do.

“The competition in the Eurocup is fierce and I suspect we’ll be joined by some of the British series regulars which will increase the opposition. However if we can get a good set-up on Friday ahead of Saturday’s first qualifying, I’m optimistic we can get another strong finish.”

The Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 action starts at Silverstone with two 40-minute practice sessions on Friday at 09:00 and 14:05. Qualifying at 09:45 on Saturday morning precedes the first race of the weekend at 14:35. Sunday’s qualifying session will take place at 11:45 and the lights will go green on race two at 15:35.

Will StevensSurrey race ace Will Stevens endured a trying day in the eighth round of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in Budapest on Sunday, but left Hungary with fourth place in the points table. Despite making set-up changes to his car following Saturday’s race, the 20 year-old was not able to reproduce his Friday practice form that netted the third fastest time, qualifying on row seven for the race.

Stevens, from Oxshott, had high hopes heading into qualifying that the changes would improve the car sufficiently to allow him to take his fourth pole position of the season. Yet, come Sunday morning Will was struggling to find the balance and was left frustrated with his pace.

Lining up 14th of the 35 runners Stevens, who scored his first Eurocup podium in last year’s race at the Hungarian track, suffered a clutch problem at the start and lost three places. He managed to claw back two places however and was well clear of the first lap melee behind, which forced the deployment of the safety car.

At the restart he dropped back to 14th and thereafter had a largely uneventful run to 13th, which he took on the final tour.

There was some consolation for the Fortec Motorsport driver however, as two of his main series rivals finished out of the points, to keep the BRDC Rising Star well in the title challenge, with six races remaining.

“It was a trying weekend, we struggled all weekend really. We came into the event having secured four top four finishes in five races including three podiums and so far this season we’ve been on the pace at pretty much every race. So to come away from the circuit where I enjoyed second place in a one-off guest appearance last year, without a podium, is rather disappointing,” he said.

“The weekend started pretty good with the third fastest time in the second free practice and I was confident of being able to improve on that with set-up changes made for the second qualifying on Sunday morning.

“Unfortunately though we went the wrong way with the settings. I didn’t make a very good start as I had a clutch problem off the line and lost three places as a result. I managed to get two back, but after the safety car period I struggled for the next couple of laps. I just wasn’t quick enough. However, we will put that behind us now and focus on the next event, in front of the home crowd, where hopefully we can return to the pace of the opening three rounds.”

The former multiple kart champion comes away from Budapest in fourth place and heads into the next rounds of the championship, his only UK appearance in the series, at Silverstone over the weekend of 20/21 August 2011, looking for a return to the podium in front of an expected 50,000 spectators.

Will StevensRising British racing driver Will Stevens from Oxshott, Surrey notched up tenth place in round seven of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup at Budapest on Saturday. The 20 year-old put his experience of the Hungarian track, where he scored his maiden Eurocup podium finish last year, to good use, getting off the line cleanly for the start of the 14-lap race.

Thereafter the former British, European and Asian-Pacific kart champion, who has three podium finishes under his belt this season, moved up two places from his grid slot, to take his sixth consecutive points-scoring result and consolidate his fourth place in the points table.

Thirty-five identical 2-litre Formula Renault cars took to the track for Saturday morning’s qualifying sessions, with the field split into two groups. Stevens, along with his three Fortec Motorsport team-mates, was out second but qualifying unfortunately didn’t quite match the form of Friday’s free practice, in which he was third fastest.

The 15-minute qualifying was interrupted by full course yellow and saw the BRDC Rising Star wait until the closing moments to mount a serious challenge for the top spot. His penultimate lap had him post a fast final sector but he lost time slightly in sector one on his last lap. Despite a fast second and third sector, Stevens was unable to capitalise on that pace and ended up sixth.

The formation of the grid for the races are dictated by the driver with the fastest lap time overall from both groups taking pole position and the rest of the drivers in that group aligned behind. The drivers from the other group line up on the other side of the grid putting Will on the outside of the sixth row. A good getaway allowed him to maintain position on the opening lap and by lap two he had made up a place, sweeping into 11th and then taking tenth three laps later.

The deployment of the safety car brought Steven’s charge to a premature halt however and after securing his maiden podium there last season, and setting a good pace in free practice, Will was understandably frustrated by the result but looking forward to returning to podium form tomorrow. A poor result by series leader Carlos Sainz jnr. which allowed the eventual race winner Robert Frijns to close the gap at the top, has allowed Will to keep in the fight for the title, in fourth place in the standings ahead of tomorrow’s eighth round.

“I had high expectations of a good result here this weekend after last year obviously but in practice I didn’t get such a good run on new tyres as the red flag stopped the session. The track conditions changed quite a bit for qualifying and I don’t think I was able to reach the full potential of the car and of course the way the qualifying works being sixth in session, meant I started 12th. I didn’t make the best of starts but by the end of lap one was still in 12th place. I had a good rhythm going but unfortunately the safety car period meant I couldn’t overtake and at the restart, I lost that rhythm which prevented me from moving up further. But I had a long chat with my engineer and we’ve made some changes to the car now which I’m confident will help for tomorrow’s qualifying,” he said.

“It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to fully capitalise on Sainz’s qualifying problems and close the gap down, but thankfully we haven’t lost out too much today. If we can get a good qualifying tomorrow it’d be nice to end the weekend with a strong positive result.”

Karl-Oscar LiivMP Motorsport came extremely close to earning its first podium finish of the 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season at the Nurburgring in Germany last weekend, 18th/19th June, with Estonian teenager Karl-Oscar Liiv just missing out on third place during the final lap of race two.

The second of the weekend’s encounters was by far the best for the Dutch team with Liiv almost managing to grab the last podium place on lap 12. In the end, he took the chequered flag just 0.1 seconds adrift to secure his first championship points of the season in the ultra-competitive series.

Starting seventh on the grid, Liiv – who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday – moved into the top six on lap one before taking fifth place on lap five. Dicing with Miki Weckstrom over fourth position for a couple of laps, Liiv made the place his own on lap nine before then challenging Timmy Hansen for third all the way to the finish.

Fellow Estonian Johannes Moor excelled in the tricky, wet conditions and sliced his way through the order fantastically well after being forced to start the race from the back of the substantial 34-car grid due to a mix-up during qualifying.

Several drivers, Moor included, were made to leave the track by a marshal and enter Parc Ferme before qualifying had ended so were prevented from finishing their flying laps. Seriously damaging Moor’s chances, the 18-year-old raced superbly and charged through into an exceptional 12th place.

Swedish team-mate Kevin Kleveros also had to start lower down the order for race two than would ordinarily be expected due to a few problems during the wet qualifying session. Lining up in 25th position, the 19-year-old made very good progress and his pace was impressive but all of his hard work was undone on lap six due to a fuel pump issue – easily costing him a deserved top 10 finish.

Team principal Sander Dorsman commented: “All three drivers did a fantastic job in race two, Karl-Oscar was so close to getting on the podium – he almost did it on the last lap but just missed out in the end. Fourth place though is still a great result for us.

“Johannes raced really well, he overtook a lot of cars in the 12 laps and really did do a great job to get as high as 12th place. Unfortunately, Kevin wasn’t able to complete the race because of the fuel pump breaking but without that big problem we’re sure he would have been in the top 10.”

Race one wasn’t as fruitful for MP Motorsport with Kleveros starting in 15th position, just over a second shy of pole position, ahead of Moor in 16th and Liiv in 19th place. In the end, Kleveros finished in 13th position just a fraction ahead of Liiv while Moor was 17th.

Little over a week remains until the next Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 race meeting which will be held at the Hungaroring in Hungary on 2nd/3rd July.

Provisional 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Driver Standings:
13th Karl-Oscar Liiv, 12pts; 21st Kevin Kleveros, 1pt; No score – Johannes Moor

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties.