Fortec charger, Oliver Rowland took two comprehensive lights to flag victories today, in rounds seventeen and eighteen of the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship, at a sun-drenched Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.
Making the most of his brace of pole positions, Rowland dominated in both races. This morning’s race saw him streak away from Alex Lynn, leaving his Fortec team-mate to defend hard from fellow title challenger Tio Ellinas (Atech Reid GP) throughout the course of the opening laps.
Manor Competition’s Alice Powell and Josh Hill gained the most on the first lap, both making up two places, overcoming Fortec duo Alex Walker and Ed Jones. Atech Reid GP’s Dan Wells dropped from fifth to seventh, with Daniel Cammish (Mark Burdett Motorsport) and Felix Serralies (Fortec Competition) making their way past the Salisbury-based driver.
Wells would later re-take Serralies, only to spin on the last lap, at the off-camber Stirlings corner, during a last ditch attempt to overtake Cammish.
Rowland began to pull out a healthy lead of almost three seconds over Lynn and Ellinas, who were embroiled in a fascinating battle for second place. Just behind the Cypriot driver was Jordan King, who was keeping ahead of the pacey Cammish, but making little impact on the Atech Reid GP driver in front.
Eventually, on his eleventh time around the 2.3-mile circuit, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver would break James Calado’s two-year-old lap record with a 1:23.038.
Following a brief safety car period to recover the stricken car of Fortec’s Jones, who spun out at Paddock Hill bend when attacking team-mate Walker, Rowland got the jump on Lynn at the restart and remained in front to take his second win in three races.
“It almost felt easy today, the car was so perfect,” said a thrilled Rowland. “I was a little bit worried about the start because we have struggled a bit with them this year, but I got off the line well. I just kept on pushing as the car felt so good. Everything was perfect today.”
Championship leader, Lynn followed Rowland home, with Ellinas just behind, nine tenths of a second separating the top three after the safety car period.
“We had a good race,” said Lynn. “I made a good start and got into second in the first corner in front of Tio, so that’s the main thing. Ollie drove a really good race and was really fast so it was just all about keeping Tio behind me and making sure that we got the championship points that are needed.”
Despite trying a number of different approaches, Ellinas couldn’t find a way past Lynn, who made his Fortec as wide as possible.
Rounding out the top four was Manor Competition’s Jordan King, who was unable to match the pace of the first three cars. King had a quiet race aside from the occasional attempt by Cammish, whose Mark Burdett Motorsport team-mate, Jack Hawksworth, rounded out the first six finishers.
Going in to the day’s second CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK race, just thirty-nine points separated Lynn and Ellinas at the head of the field now, Lynn with 482 points, Ellinas with 443 points.
Grid positions for race two were largely the same as for race one; Rowland on pole with Lynn next to him, Ellinas third with King alongside.
Lynn needed to finish in the top three positions to claim the title, and the Essex-based driver made a flying start off the grid, so quick in fact that he was judged to have jumped the start. A lap later, Lynn completed a drive through and re-joined last.
With Lynn out of the picture, Rowland continued where he left off, driving into the distance, pulling out vital tenths on King in second and Ellinas in third. However, Ellinas would soon inherit second when King came into the pits for an unscheduled stop.
Elsewhere, Hill was having a better weekend after his disappointment last time out. The son of the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion, Damon, had progressed five places on his grid position and would finish sixth, just behind Serralies.
Try as he might, Lynn could only finish ninth, ensuring the championship will be decided at the final rounds in a fortnight at the legendary Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire.
Rowland completed a spectacular weekend by taking the double win, both pole positions and two fastest laps, not to mention setting a new lap record in the process.
“What a wicked weekend,” exclaimed Rowland as he got out of the car. “I wanted to win the race on the track, so I chased Alex hard for two laps, but just couldn’t catch him. I carried on pushing when I was out in the lead and I’m delighted to get two poles, two wins and two fastest laps. I’m looking to go to Silverstone now and win two more races.”
Ellinas profited from his championship rival’s start line error, and held firm to take second at the flag, leaving him 27 points behind Lynn.
“This is a very good ending to the weekend,” explained Ellinas. “I was happy to bring the car home in second, and I am very happy that the title will go down to the wire at Silverstone. I’m just going to go there in two weeks’ time and push as hard as I can.”
Joining Rowland and Ellinas on the podium was Cammish; the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver completed a solid move on Wiltshire-based Wells with three laps remaining and Wells hung on for his best finish of the season in fourth.
“To be honest I knew from the second I set off that I was racing for third as I saw Lynn jump the lights,” said Cammish. “From then on I knew that because overtaking here is very difficult, I had to play the waiting game behind Wells. Eventually, I pressured him into an error and the result came.”
Following this weekend’s events at Brands Hatch, and with the championship still up for the taking, the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship heads to the Silverstone national circuit for what promises to be a spectacular finale on 15th and 16th October.
Round seventeen top ten results
1. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 23:15.145 G
2. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports +0.458 secs
3. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP +0.957 secs
4. Jordan King Manor Competition +2.040 secs G
5. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport +2.219 secs
6. Jack Hawksworth Mark Burdett Motorsport +3.746 secs
7. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports +5.426 secs G
8. Josh Hill Manor Competition +6.643 secs
9. Alice Powell Manor Competition +7.281 secs G
10. Alex Walker Fortec Motorsports +7.560 secs G
Round eighteen top ten results
1. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 21:07.267 G
2. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP +6.070 secs
3. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport +12.119 secs
4. Dan Wells Atech Reid GP +13.995 secs
5. Felix Serralies Fortec Competition +14.572 secs
6. Josh Hill Manor Competition +15.427 secs
7. Ed Jones Fortec Competition +15.938 secs
8. Alice Powell Manor Comepetition +16.037 secs G
9. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports +17.977 secs
10. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports +21.781 secs G