From the quickest circuit on the calendar, the Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship now heads to arguably the most popular venue amongst the drivers in the field for rounds seven and eight of the year at Cheshire’s fabulous Oulton Park on June 4-5.
Top of the pile heading to the picturesque circuit is Atech Reid GP driver Tio Ellinas (Cyprus) who continued his impressive start to the season with two more podium finishes last time out at Thruxton.
Ellinas has now finished on the podium in each of the six races run so far, with one victory to his name at Donington Park, and is the man to beat as he returns to the venue where he made his car racing debut last season.
“I have good memories of Oulton Park as it was where I did my first car race last year in Formula Ford,” he said. “I qualified on the front row and then finished fourth, which was good.
“I like the circuit and I’m looking forward to the weekend. I was quick in testing so I think there is a good chance of being at the front. The barriers are quite close to the circuit so it’s very challenging and every corner is different. Qualifying is key and I need to fight for pole to be in a good position to fight for victory and the podium.”
Ellinas will be supported in his bid to remain out front in the championship standings by Graduate Cup competitor Oscar King (Stratford-upon-Avon) and by Hampshire racer Dan Wells (Salisbury), who will be competing for the team for the second time after switching from Antel Motorsport ahead of the previous round at Thruxton, where he took his best results of the year.
“Oulton Park is my favourite circuit,” he said. “When you start the lap, the undulations just hit you. It’s like a rollercoaster and there is no harder challenge. If you can hook up a lap, it feels immense, so while the circuit is challenging, it’s also very rewarding. I’m going there in positive mood and I’m working well with my new team.”
Currently second in the championship standings is the man aside from Ellinas to have taken victory this season in the shape of Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Lynn (Aythorpe). Without an exclusion from the second race at Donington Park – which is still under appeal – Lynn would have a clean sweep of victories and he arrives at Oulton Park just five points down on his championship rival.
Lynn also has five pole positions and three fastest laps from six races and is just five points behind Ellinas in the title race.
“I’m looking forward to Oulton, but then I look forward to all of the races,” he said. “We were quick there in testing so we should go well and hopefully we’ll get the same kind of results as we’ve had in the races so far.
“Oulton is definitely a difficult circuit and you need to have a good car underneath you. Qualifying is going to be vital because it’s so tricky to overtake.”
Lynn’s team-mate Oliver Rowland (Sheffield) currently leads the Graduate Cup standings in sixth overall following a double podium at Thruxton, while fellow Fortec drivers Mitchell Gilbert (Twickenham) and Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (Bolivia) go into this weekend’s action on the back of their best results of the season in the last round. Fortec Competition’s Felix Serralles will also be in action.
“I think Oulton Park is like the Nurburgring of England and hopefully we can build on the performance we showed at Thruxton,” Gilbert said. “The whole weekend will be decided in qualifying, but we have a strong car in qualifying and we have to see where we go with it.”
Manor Competition has yet to sample victory this season, but a strong four-car team goes into this weekend looking to put that right. Ollie Millroy (Claygate) heads Manor’s championship assault in third place and he is ready for the challenge provided by a circuit that is a true favourite with drivers throughout the grid.
“Oulton is an awesome track and it’s definitely up there with the great tracks like Spa,” he said. “It’s high-speed and you’re always on the edge with no room for error as any mistake could mean hitting the barriers. It’s a proper drivers’ track.”
Josh Hill (Farnham), son of former F1 title winner Damon, took his maiden top four finish last time out at Thruxton to sit fifth in the standings while Jordan King (Harbury) will hope to move up from second in the Graduate Cup standings over the course of the weekend. Alice Powell (Chipping Norton) meanwhile will be keen to bounce back from a double DNF at Thruxton that dropped her to tenth in the championship.
All three rank Oulton Park as one of their favourite circuits with King targeting two strong results to overhaul Rowland for the Graduate Cup lead.
“Oulton Park is a circuit I really enjoy and its good fun to drive,” he says. “Every corner leads into another at Oulton Park so the times can come quite easily if you can nail the lap, and its really satisfying when you do hook everything up. I’d like to think we’ll do a good job in qualifying and then hopefully we can turn it into a result in the races. A top three in qualifying would set us up well.”
The field is completed with Jack Hawksworth (Bradford) flying the flag for Mark Burdett Motorsport, joined by a new team-mate, Daniel Cammish. Hawksworth has two podium finishes to his name already to sit fourth in the championship standings and his aims for the Oulton Park weekend are crystal clear.
“Oulton Park is one of my favourite circuits and its one of the closest to home,” he says. “The character and elevation changes make it interesting; it’s a proper race track. The only issue is that it can be difficult to overtaking, so qualifying is going to be vital.
“My aim is to win both races, like it is every weekend. I’m heading Oulton Park aiming to do my best and two pole positions would put me in a good position for the races.
For further information: http://www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/formularenaultuk/Default.aspx
Press images of the championship can be downloaded from: www.jakobebrey.com/renault
A full set of timing results can be found here: www.tsl-timing.com
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