Fortec Motorsports’ Oliver Rowland and Alex Lynn shared the spoils today in rounds fifteen and sixteen of the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship at the Rockingham Motor Speedway. Lynn’s victory was notable as he equaled James Matthews’ seventeen year record of eleven victories in a season.
Earlier today, Rowland took his maiden win in round fifteen and was a class apart – taking a dominant lights to flag victory – having broken the challenge of his team-mate Mitchell Gilbert earlier in the race.
Rowland was quick throughout the weekend and delivered a crushing win by over ten seconds from Gilbert, keeping his composure through an early safety car restart caused by Atech Reid GP driver, Jack Hawksworth’s move on Josh Hill (Manor Competition); both would retire immediately from the incident.
“To win this race is absolutely mega,” said Rowland. “I struggled off the line and it looked like Gilbert had got in front, luckily I managed to fight back on the inside and get back into first on the second corner. From then on it was just about pushing as hard as I could, which worked perfectly.”
In the second race, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver was a thorn in Lynn’s side, the pair regularly exchanging fastest laps and under a second separating them as they crossed the line for race two.
“Race two was really good,” said Rowland. “At times, Alex stretched his lead and at times I caught up. Alex was driving really well, I know he was pushing hard to get a gap and I was pushing really, really hard to try to catch him.”
The double result for Rowland was particularly poignant after recent events in Rowland’s life.
“A first and a second is my best result of the year. I’m really happy and it needed to come; getting towards the end of the season is when rookies start to blossom. I’d like to dedicate my win today to Martin Hines who recently passed away. He did a lot for me and my career.”
Pole-sitter for race two, Lynn, recovered his weekend after a rare error in qualifying saw the championship leader and birthday boy start the weekend’s first race from the back of the grid.
Lynn fought back to fifth, making some classy moves on his way, taking team-mate Alex Walker, Daniel Cammish (Mark Burdett Motorsport), only to spin and end up at the back of the field, finally finishing tenth.
“I’m slightly disappointed that it finished the way,” said Lynn. “I got up to fifth and we were very fast.”
Race two was classic Lynn; a strong start off the line, a clean first lap and a race with no errors, even amidst pressure from the re-invigorated Rowland.
“I’ve been pushing hard all weekend,” said Lynn. “My start was really good, we got the gap into the first corner which I needed and for the whole race I maintained the gap back to Ollie and just played with the gap, pushing all the way, so it was a great victory.
“I think Ollie’s done a really good job and he’s pushed me really hard this weekend. My spin in qualifying was a mistake by me – without it I think we had the pace to be on pole. Then I spun in this morning’s race which is what it is, and I needed to win the second race and I did that job.”
Championship contender, Ellinas was fast throughout the weekend, but was unable to boost his position in either race, taking a brace of third-place finishes. The double podiums continue his consistent haul of points throughout the year and see the Cypriot drive edge closer to the championship leader, Lynn, with four races left before the season close.
“To be honest I’m pretty happy with two P3s today,” said Ellinas. “I’m thirty four points behind Alex but it’s still possible to go for the championship.
“I really like Brands GP and Silverstone National so we will try very hard in all four races. I know the gap I need to make up, so I’m working hard with the team.”
Second in race one, and sixth in race two was Australian driver, Mitchell Gilbert. After a brief lead of the first race, Gilbert couldn’t match fellow Fortec racer, Rowland’s pace and defended his finish from a late charge by Ellinas. Race two afforded Gilbert little opportunity to make up positions and a strong top six finish was his reward.
“I thought that I could take the lead at the start as I got off the line brilliantly,” said Gilbert speaking after his first race. “I guess that I didn’t close enough and unfortunately that allowed Rowland to go back through on the inside. As the race went on I struggled for pace and it soon became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to catch him. I’m happy to get second.”
Elsewhere, Manor Competition’s Jordan King came into the weekend eighth in the championship but full of confidence after promising recent performances. After a spin in race one when under pressure from a resurgent Lynn, delivered only a ninth place finish, King could only finish seventh in race two, over two seconds behind Gilbert.
Hampshire teenager, Dan Wells (Atech Reid GP), had the best result of his season in the first race, resisting the pressure from Lynn and a late charge from Cammish, to come home fourth.
Cammish leaves the weekend with 40 points, having finished fifth in both rounds, providing his Mark Burdett Motorsport team with reason to cheer.
After a DNF in race one, Josh Hill was keen to get a good result in race two. Following a promising start, he got behind Atech Reid GP’s Oscar King, who was enjoying a season best qualifying performance of fourth, and tangled going into the infamous turn two on the second lap; the double impact resulted in both cars retiring immediately.
Championship debutant, Alex Walker, currently lying second in the Intersteps series, finished sixth and ninth on the challenging Rockingham circuit, handling the move up to Formula Renault with relative ease.
After the thrills and spills of the Rockingham weekend, the championship moves to Brands Hatch in a fortnight, where the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship will descend on the famous GP circuit.
Round fifteen top ten results:
1. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 22:34.391 17 laps G
2. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports +10.039 G
3. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP +10.524
4. Dan Wells Atech Reid GP +12.444
5. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport +12.563
6. Alex Walker Fortec Competition +13.513 G
7. Alice Powell Manor Competition +15.746 G
8. Oscar King Atech Reid GP +18.306 G
9. Jordan King Manor Competition +18.957 G
10. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports +23.430
Round sixteen top ten results:
1. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports 20:34.097 16 laps
2. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports +0.800 G
3. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP +5.315
4. Jack Hawksworth Atech Reid GP +7.199
5. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport +9.254
6. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports +10.882 G
7. Jordan King Manor Competition +13.227 G
8. Alice Powell Manor Competition +14.600 G
9. Alex Walker Fortec Competition +16.259 G
10. Dan Wells Atech Reid GP +19.093
A full set of timing results and championship standings can be found here: www.tsl-timing.com