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Category: Formula Renault 2.0 NEC

Seb Morris - FR NEC, Spa-FrancorchampsHighly rated single-seater racer Seb Morris is targeting a successful start to the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series at Brands Hatch this coming weekend, 20th/21st October, off the back of a highly competitive European debut at Spa-Francorchamps just a couple of days ago.

Taking the opportunity to make his bow in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup during the category’s season finale at the famous Belgian track last weekend, the 16-year-old Welshman starred in difficult, wet conditions during the second of the event’s races – finishing 11th overall from a grid of 36 experienced competitors despite running on slick tyres.

Rainfall just prior to the start meant the choice of Michelin rubber would be crucial and while the Fortec Motorsports team was confident a gamble on slicks would pay dividends, conditions didn’t improve as expected.

Leaving a huge challenge ahead for Marford-based Seb in only his second race at the wheel of a current specification FR 2.0 chassis, he fought his way through the order brilliantly from 16th on the grid and ran as high as ninth before eventually having to settle for a, nonetheless terrific, 11th place.

“Spa was an amazing experience”, commented the Ginetta Ambassador and British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star, “Race two was fantastic, it was a massive challenge with slicks on a wet track – only the second time in my career I’ve done that – but it was amazing to almost come away with a top 10 finish on my debut weekend in Formula Renault NEC.”

Now, the focus turns to the four-round Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with a return to the older specification Tatuus FR 2.0 chassis Seb steered to third overall in the main championship in his debut season of single-seater racing.

Remaining with Fortec, the Abbey Gate College A-level student will go into the four-round Winter Series as a top contender and undoubtedly one to watch having secured five victories so far in his first year of ‘slicks and wings’ competition.

“Hopefully we’ll have a really good Winter Series, I’m going into it aiming to challenge for every win possible and have a really strong end to the year”, said Seb, “I think doing well in the Winter Series could actually be more important for me than the main season, as everyone looks at what you’re doing at the end of the year for the following season.”

Following officially timed testing on Friday, 19th October, qualifying for rounds one and two of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series will take place on Saturday, 20th October, at 09.00 and 12.45 with the first race of the weekend beginning at 16.10.

On Sunday, 21st October, round two is scheduled to start at 13.10 and will be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4, on ITV4 HD and with the addition of live online streaming at www.itv.com/btcc

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties

Raoul Owens - FR NEC, Spa-FrancorchampsBritish racer Raoul Owens secured a hard-fought points-scoring finish on his debut in the hugely competitive Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, 14th October, during a fast-paced weekend of several ‘firsts’ for the 18-year-old.

In addition to being his maiden outing in the heavily subscribed 36-strong championship, the final event of the NEC season was also his first ever experience of the 4.3-mile Belgian track as well as the Bright Spark Ventures-backed driver’s debut weekend at the wheel of a current FR 2.0 chassis.

“Spa has been a great experience”, said the Pembury-born racer, “It’s a difficult track to learn when you’re learning a new car as well but I definitely enjoyed it. This Renault has a lot more grip than the BARC Renault car I’ve been used to, it just feels much more up to date – which it obviously is – and NEC is definitely a good step-up for sure.”

Although there were only two short practice sessions ahead of qualifying, Raoul made good progress and posted a best time of 2m24.844 seconds in the grid-determining session for race one to secure a 15th row start. Impressively, he sliced over two seconds off his opening effort during the second run to deliver a quickest lap of 2m22.485 seconds for the race two grid, meaning a row 11 start.

Sunday morning’s race was the most rewarding for the Manor MP Motorsport driver with a finish inside the top 20 ahead of a large number of more seasoned FR 2.0 NEC competitors. It certainly proved to be a baptism of fire for Raoul, through no fault of his own, with an early red flag stoppage followed by a further Safety Car period later on.

Maintaining excellent composure throughout, he steered his 2.0-litre Renault into the upper reaches of the top 20 with just a couple of laps to go and was then able to profit from a multi-car tangle late on to move into 19th position on the final lap to secure some hard-earned championship points.

Race two all boiled down to tyre choice with rain starting to fall ahead of the start. Raoul’s initial thinking was to begin the encounter on treaded wet-weather rubber and that ultimately proved to be the correct call as drivers on slick tyres all struggled as conditions got worse instead of better.

Unfortunately, a team decision to run with slicks – an option taken up by the vast majority of the grid – proved costly as a few competitors starting near the back gambling on treaded rubber were able to slice through the order with ease. With hardly any grip to call on Raoul did still manage to bring the car home undamaged, although he rued what might have been.

“When we did the formation lap out of the pits there was light drizzle that was fairly persistent and the track felt very slippery”, said the Cape Town-based racer, “Although it wasn’t quite wet enough at that point for wets I thought we should go with them as I had a feeling the rain would continue.

“Ninty percent of the grid opted for dry tyres though so the team decided to go with that, I wish I’d have stuck to my guns with the initial call though as wets did end up being the way to go. Conditions were really difficult, especially as it was only my second day in the car. Still, in the dry we were only 1.6 seconds off the quickest guys and on a track the size of Spa that wasn’t bad at all.”

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties

Shahaan Engineer17-year-old Indian national Shahaan Engineer ends first year of car racing seventh overall from more than 50 championship entrants, with the highest points score of any first year driver, in the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup.

Just two weeks on from a star performance at Zandvoort where he secured his maiden Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) pole position and double podium finish, India’s Shahaan Engineer delivered yet another excellent showing in the championship at Spa-Francorchamps over the weekend, 13th/14th October.

The teenager produced a superb drive into the top five from 16th on the grid in round 19 which was a chaotic race, featuring two Safety Car periods and an early red flag stoppage which halted the action for 15 minutes.

Marking Shahaan’s first ever visit to the world-famous Belgian track, with barely 30-minutes to learn the seven kilometre circuit his terrific fifth place in race one – which was contested by 36 international drivers – helped the 17-year-old finish the year seventh in the championship and just a single point outside the top six from the 50 registered series participants.

The Fortec Motorsports driver also ends 2012 as the highest placed first year driver, in doing so out-performing a whole host of second and third year competitors in a category which isn’t an entry level series. Along with being the youngest driver in the championship, he is the first, and so far only, Indian driver to qualify on pole and take a podium finish in a European Formula Renault series.

“For me it’s a great testament to Shahaan’s development this year the sort of results he’s achieved and progress he’s made”, commented Jamie Dye, team manager of multiple championship winning team Fortec, “He really showed us how he is ready to start 2013 as a championship challenger; we’ll support him through the winter to help achieve this goal.”

Shahaan said: “It’s been a brilliant debut season in single-seaters for me. This last race weekend has been bittersweet though really, with a great result in the first race and then a gamble on tyre choice in race two. We went on slicks but rain began to fall ahead of the start and it felt like I was out on an ice-skating rink.

“Making a lucky call on the correct tyres meant the difference between a possible podium or an almost impossible race. Race one was fantastic though and I really want to thank the team for providing me with a flawless car for the whole season, and also for helping me achieve a great championship standing for my first year in cars.”

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s latest news during the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer

Photo by Chris Schotanus / Essay Produkties.

Ghiotto & BonifacioThe debut of Prema Powerteam in the 2012 F.Renault competition continued to provide the Italian squad with sensational results. After having entered the Mugello round of the ALPS series last weekend, Prema entered the final round of the North European Cup at the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps venue, in a challenge that also featured some of the top teams from the Eurocup Series.

Once again, the results were convincing because, despite the powerful 36-car line-up, Bruno Bonifacio scored third place in qualifying, exactly like at Mugello, and ended up in third at the end of Race 1. It was the first podium finish for him. On the other hand, Luca Ghiotto went off early in qualifying and was called to a spectacular recovery: after starting in 36th place, he climbed up to the 14th position.

In the second qualifications, Bonifacio repeated his early result but unfortunately, due to a sudden rainfall, both drivers ended up off-track like many of their opponents.

Prema will now get on the road again towards Barcelona, where both drivers will line-up for the closing round of ALPS. On the same weekend, they will also be racing at Hockenheim, in the closing round of the European F.3 Championship, and at Monza, in the last outing of the Italian F.3 Series.

Shahaan EngineerMumbai-born racing driver Shahaan Engineer capped-off a tremendous breakthrough weekend in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) at Zandvoort this afternoon, Sunday, 23rd September, with his second podium finish in as many races – and second of his rookie season.

Driving for multiple championship-winning UK team Fortec Motorsports, Shahaan starred in qualifying on Friday, 21st September, with his maiden car racing pole position. The Indian youngster then bagged the first podium of his fledgling career during round 17 on Saturday, 22nd September, and added another second place finish today with a great drive in the last race of the weekend.

Remarkably the 17-year-old, who is the youngest competitor in the hotly-contested pan-European series, concluded the visit to The Netherlands with the biggest points haul of anyone. Earning a total of 63 points across the three races, eight points clear of his nearest rival, Shahaan has surged from 11th in the championship into seventh place – just 10 points shy of fifth from 44 registered entrants.

Jamie Dye, team manager of Fortec Motorsports, said: “Shahaan did a great job all weekend and really showed us his talent. Shahaan is, for sure, one to watch in the future – he is ready to be picked up by someone big. In the meantime, we’re happy to have him on-board with us at Fortec and really pleased with his performance.”

“It’s been an exciting weekend and my best yet in cars”, added Shahaan, “Getting the two podiums and a pole position feels great but, more importantly, I’m pleased to have scored well in all three races. I want to thank the team for giving me a great car all weekend.”

Shahaan was actually one of only two drivers able to lap below the 1m39 second barrier, his best time of the race being a lap of 1m38.658 seconds. Unlike most of the other drivers he’s competing against, the youngster has leapt into the high-level series without any experience in Formula BMW, Formula Ford or any other single-seater championship – making his performances all the more impressive as he battles wheel-to-wheel against second and third year veterans in his first season.

Following this weekend’s racing, Shahaan now travels back to the UK to continue his recently commenced studies at Leighton Park in Berkshire.

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties

Shahaan EngineerShahaan Engineer claimed his first ever car racing podium during round 17 of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup at Zandvoort in The Netherlands today, Saturday, 22nd September, with a terrific drive to second place – having led the way for much of the 14-lap encounter.

Starting the second of the day’s races from pole position, after delivering a tremendous performance in qualifying on Friday afternoon, the 17-year-old Fortec Motorsports driver made a good start to hold the lead and after a brief Safety Car period early on he pulled away from the chasing pack.

By lap 10 the Mumbai-born racer was almost three seconds clear at the front and well in control but on the penultimate lap of the race, at the last corner, Shahaan was blocked on the inside line as he attempted to lap a slower car.

The ensuing delay for Shahaan dropped him to second place, as his nearest rival snatched the lead around the outside, so the Indian teenager had to settle for the runner-up spot – just 0.6 seconds behind at the flag. He also posted the second fastest lap of the race to confirm his excellent pace.

“Taking my first podium is fantastic, the team did a great job and I felt really comfortable leading from pole”, said Shahaan, “Everything was going perfectly until the backmarker got in the way, as soon as I’d made my decision to go to the inside to pass him he swerved in front of me and I had to slow down.”

In the earlier 16th round, which started on a damp but drying track, Shahaan finished in sixth position to mark a strong first day of racing at the 4.3-kilometre Dutch track. For round 18 tomorrow, Sunday, 23rd September, Shahaan will once again line-up on pole position – the action is scheduled to begin at approximately 13.10, local time.

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties.

Shahaan EngineerIndia’s Shahaan Engineer impressed the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) paddock at Zandvoort in The Netherlands today, Friday, 21st September, by qualifying on pole position for the first time in his rookie year of car racing.

Posting a fastest lap time of 1m36.611 seconds in session two, the 17-year-old Fortec Motorsports driver – the youngest competitor in the field – took pole position for round 17 of the season with a margin of more than 0.2 seconds over his closest challenger.

In session one, determining the grid for the first of the weekend’s three races, Shahaan performed just as impressively and only missed out on pole by 0.1 seconds – his lap of 1m37.778 seconds good enough for a front-row start in round 16.

“It’s been a good day, I’m obviously really happy to take my first pole position in cars and to do so against such tough opposition is a great feeling”, he commented, “We don’t know how the races will go but if I can get good starts, I’m sure we’ll have a great chance to do well as our pace has been strong all weekend so far.”

So far in his first full season of single-seater racing, the Indian youngster – who is currently schooling in the UK at Leighton Park in Reading, Berkshire – has enjoyed some strong results with a best of seventh position at Oschersleben in Germany. Going into this weekend’s action Shahaan is 11th overall in the championship standings, out of more than 40 registered drivers.

Race one of the weekend will begin at 10.10, local time, tomorrow, Saturday, 22nd September, with race two following at 15.50. On Sunday, 23rd September, the third and final race of the weekend will get underway at approximately 13.10.

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer.

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties

Seb MorrisProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship front-runner Seb Morris will make his European race debut next month, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, after signing a deal with Fortec Motorsports to contest the final two rounds of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC).

First year single-seater racer Seb, who already drives for the Daventry-based team in FR BARC, will switch his 2.0-litre Renault-engined Tatuus chassis for the similarly powered Barazi-Epsilon designed car which is utilised in NEC and also the blue riband Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series.

The 16-year-old Welshman, from Marford near Wrexham, is looking forward to not only racing at one of the world’s greatest circuits for the first time in his career but also going head-to-head with some of the globe’s top junior single-seater drivers over the weekend 13th/14th October.

“I’m relishing the challenge of racing against some top competition”, said Seb, “With about 45 cars on the grid it’s going to be a great experience and a really great weekend – I can’t wait. It’s great to be driving with Fortec as well, we’ve built a really good relationship this year in BARC Renault.”

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC has, over the last couple of years, become one of the stand-out junior categories on the ladder of progression towards the FIA Formula One World Championship and is unquestionably one of the most hotly-contested championships anywhere in the world.

While fully realising he faces a big step-up in terms of competitiveness and competition, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star – who will combine his A-level studies this year with the MSA Academy Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence – is determined to make the most of the experience and try and spring some surprises along the way.

His maiden outing in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC will come just one week after the final two rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season, at Silverstone on 6th/7th October, where the Abbey Gate College student will be striving for a top three championship finish in the domestic series.

“We’ve got a very busy few weeks coming up and I’m really pleased about that, a lot of people tail off what they’re doing at the end of the year but we’re trying to get as much experience as we can to build for next year”, added the Ginetta Ambassador.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Shahaan Engineer - Most, FR NECCar racing rookie Shahaan Engineer climbed back up the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) championship table at Most in the Czech Republic over the weekend, 1st/2nd September, with a best finish of ninth – out of 33 competitors – in the second of three races.

Although enduring problems in qualifying on Saturday, the Mumbai teenager performed strongly on his debut at the 4.2-kilometre track and delivered three encouraging race performances to end the weekend 11th in the championship from 42 registered drivers.

The best of those outings was undoubtedly race two on Sunday morning where the Fortec Motorsports driver, the youngest and least experienced racer on the heavily subscribed NEC grid, carved his way through into the coveted top 10 with a good drive from 14th position to ninth place.

“I’ve qualified in the top five several times this year and I did hope to start this weekend’s races in a better position”, commented Shahaan, “The main focus though in each race was to move forward and gain more overtaking experience, and that’s what we achieved.”

Just one week on from a top 10 performance at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, the Indian rookie again overcame his lack of seat time in Formula Renault compared to his rivals – the majority of whom are, at the very least, in their second season in the category.

In spite of missing all of the pre-season testing in mainland Europe at the start of the year, due to the fact he was originally scheduled to race in Britain prior to the UK series being cancelled at the last minute, Shahaan is certainly making the best of his debut season.

“Shahaan is so young still and very inexperienced compared to the drivers he’s racing against this year”, said Fortec team principal Richard Dutton, “It is a very steep learning curve for him, but that’s good and exactly what he needs.”

So far, 2012 has been very tough for Shahaan as he has been balancing his final year of GCSEs in Dubai with travelling around Europe. As of today though, Monday, 3rd September, he begins a new chapter with a move to the UK where he will now be permanently based for his schooling.

Zandvoort in The Netherlands will host the penultimate event of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup just three weeks from now on 22nd/23rd September.

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties.

Shahaan Engineer - Red Bull Ring, AustriaShahaan Engineer added yet another top 10 finish to his impressive tally on his maiden outing at the famous Red Bull Ring in Austria on Sunday, 26th August, during the fifth race meeting of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC).

The 16-year-old Indian national, who was born in Mumbai and is currently schooling in the UK, performed strongly as part of a very competitive 35 driver entry at the historic former FIA Formula One World Championship venue and out-paced a number of vastly more experienced rivals.

As the youngest driver in the heavily subscribed pan-European championship, Shahaan continues to contradict his lack of experience on one of the biggest stages in junior single-seater racing anywhere in the world.

Memorably he made a huge impact on his European debut at Hockenheim in Germany in April, stunning the paddock by setting the third fastest time in qualifying, from 39 drivers, before securing two impressive top eight results.

While practice and qualifying at the Red Bull Ring this past weekend took place in the dry, raceday at the Spielberg track was an entirely different prospect with the onset of rain throwing a fresh challenge into the mix for the Fortec Motorsports driver. Shahaan raced impressively, culminating in a deserved top 10 finish.

Next on the schedule for Shahaan is a visit to Most in the Czech Republic for rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup this coming weekend, 1st/2nd September.

Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer

Photo by Chris Schotanus / Essay Produkties