With his eighth win of the season in the Formula Renault Series 3.5 this Saturday, Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) has broken the record for most wins in a season, previously held by Carlos Sainz. The recently crowned 2015 champion also set a new record for most points in a season since the introduction of the new scoring system in 2011, which had been held by 2013 title winner, Kevin Magnussen. Starting second on the grid, the Racing Steps Foundation protégé inherited the lead from pole winner Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) to take the win ahead of rookie Egor Orudzhev (Arden Motorsport) and second in the championship, Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus). The battle for third place in the general classification will feature six drivers, with eight points separating rookies Nyck de Vries (DAMS), Dean Stoneman (DAMS) and Egor Orudzhev.
In the morning, Tom Dillmann claimed his maiden pole in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with a best lap of 1:28.621. The French driver was joined on row one by Oliver Rowland, while Egor Orudzhev, Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) and Matthieu Vaxiviere completed the top five on the starting grid.
Dillmann holds on to the pole advantage
On the damp Andalusian track, the race began with two laps behind the safety car. When the race went green, Tom Dillmann kept the lead against Oliver Rowland and Egor Orudzhev. Further back in the field, Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) lost ninth place after a driver error. Inheriting the place of the Canadian driver, Beitske Visser (AVF) also dropped down the order on the following lap.
Rowland inherits the win
Race leader Tom Dillmann led from Oliver Rowland, who for a while was under threat from Egor Orudzhev before he finally built a gap to the Russian. The trio ran in close quarters and pulled away from Jazeman Jaafar, who had his mirrors full of Matthieu Vaxiviere, who in turn had Tio Ellinas (Strakka Racing) and Nyck de Vries right behind. The Frenchman found an opening on lap seven.
On lap ten, a puncture dropped Tom Dillmann down the order. Oliver Rowland made the most of it to take the lead of the race and go on for his eighth triumph of the season. The Englishman took a 14-second margin of victory from Egor Orudzhev. Matthieu Vaxiviere completed the podium, followed by Nyck de Vries and Tio Ellinas, who got the better of Jazeman Jaafar on lap 17. Running in seventh place for most of the race, Yu Kanamaru (Pons Racing) was overtaken by Nicholas Latifi, who drove his way back through the field. André Negrāo (International Draco Racing) and Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing) completed the top ten.
Oliver Rowland: “Qualifying was tricky with two red flags that really came at the wrong time and a trip to the pits with a minor problem. The performance was there and I knew that if the rain stopped, the tyres would suffer. We were conservative with the set-ups so that we could be strong late in the race and on lap two; I saw that Tom Dillmann’s tyres were already suffering from graining. I have won at every meeting this year, except Monaco. I really hope to finally score the double tomorrow!”
Egor Orudzhev: The race went quite well and I managed to pass Oliver when he had a big moment. Nevertheless, I knew he was much faster than Tom Dillmann and I didn’t know the pace of the drivers behind me. I did everything I could to stay on the track while my tyres really began to suffer in the last five laps.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere: “The aim this weekend is to win, but it was difficult in qualifying with the red flags. Despite being confident, the opening laps on the wet track surface are always complicated and I had to stay in front of my rivals. In the end, I am happy to be ahead of the DAMS drivers to allow Lotus to be potentially second in the team classification.”
Provisional general classification* : 1. O. Rowland – 289 points, 2. M. Vaxiviere – 219, 3. N. de Vries – 135, 3. D. Stoneman – 130, 5. E. Orudzhev – 127… * Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications