England’s Oliver Rowland (Forte Motorsport) has taken the lead of the general classification in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series after his win on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Starting from pole position, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver won ahead of the highest placed rookie today, Nyck de Vries (DAMS). The McLaren Young Driver Development Programme driver fended off the attacks from Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), who completed today’s podium. Oliver Rowland leaves Belgium with a six point lead from the Lotus F1 Team Junior driver and eight ahead of his team mate Jazeman Jaafar, who started last but finished sixth on Sunday.

In qualifying, Oliver Rowland obtained his first pole of the year ahead of Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing), Nyck de Vries and Jazeman Jaafar. The leader in the general classification was relegated to the back of the grid following technical inspections.

Rowland maintains the lead

Oliver Rowland held on to the lead ahead of the DAMS duo of Nyck de Vries and Dean Stoneman, who overtook Tio Ellinas before the La Source hairpin. Contact between Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) resulted in a puncture for the Frenchman and a rear wing change for the Canadian. Further back in the field, Jazeman Jaafar passed several cars to enter the top ten at the end of the opening lap.

Vaxiviere on the move

Creating a gap as the laps ticked down, Oliver Rowland still led after the mandatory tyre changes. Jazeman Jaafar and Aurélien Panis did well to run just outside the top five after the closing of the pit window. On lap 13, Matthieu Vaxiviere passed Tio Ellinas before doing the same to Dean Stoneman two laps later.

WIth little to worry about in the lead, except for a few rain drops, Oliver Rowland won for the second time this season. Nyck de Vries finished second, after fending off the attacks from Matthieu Vaxiviere just until the end of the race. Dean Stoneman did the same for fourth place against Tio Ellinas and Jazeman Jaafar. Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing), Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing), Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport) and Meindert van Buuren (Lotus) completed the top ten.

Quotes

Oliver Rowland : “I got a good start, but far from ideal, but enough to hold on to the lead. With a different aerodynamic configuration from the others, I knew the rest of the race would be simpler and I stayed in front. I was able to build a gap, but the menacing rain began to fall in the final laps. Yesterday’s result was disappointing and I am pleased to have bounced back like I did.”

Nyck de Vries : “This result rewards the efforts made by the team. Contrary to Motorland, I was able to hold off Matthieu at the end of the race. We were faster during the first stint, but the problem with the DRS handicapped us a little. It was more difficult after the pit stop and I had to be careful in the second sector with the rain.”

Matthieu Vaxiviere : “I was successful in getting a good start, but I was blocked in the first corner and lost a few positions. I also lost time behind Tio Ellinas, but the team did a great pit stop to allow me to catch up and then overtake. The DRS helped me a lot to move up the order, but it was more complicated to find an opening on Nyck, taking into account the condition of my tyres.”

Race 2

Drivers championship

Teams championship

Interview with Oliver Rowland (MP3)

HD photo

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