Impressive Owens Unfortunate to Miss Out on Zandvoort Podium

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Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup racer Raoul Owens capped-off a strong debut season in the category with outstanding pace during the finale at a cold and wet Zandvoort over the weekend, 12th/13th October – but rued a spin in round 15 which cost an all-but guaranteed podium finish.

Raoul Owens, Zandvoort FR NEC 2013

I got fourth off the line straight away, moved into third a few laps later and then took [Steijn] Schothorst around the outside to get second place

Rapid from the off in pre-event testing and during the crucial qualifying period on Saturday morning, the 19-year-old British driver was in sensational form in the opening race at the famous Dutch track and charged through from fifth position into second place inside seven laps.

First grabbing fourth off the start, the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver broke into the coveted top three on lap five and then set about pressuring Steijn Schothorst for second place before eventually finding a way past on the seventh tour with a stunning move at Tarzan.

Putting together a brilliant race, the Cape Town-domiciled teenager edged away from Schothorst over the next few laps – setting the third fastest lap in the process – and was roughly 1.5 seconds ahead of the Dutchman before the Safety Car appeared on lap 12.

The field continued to circulate behind the Safety Car for the next couple of laps before officials decided to release them for one final sprint to the line in order to take the chequered flag at the end of lap 14. Unfortunately for Raoul, cold Michelin tyres caught him out and as he lit up the rear wheels to stay with leader Oli Rowland, a luckless spin dropped him to 20th position.

“Qualifying went OK, we had good top five pace which I was happy with”, said Raoul, “The track was completely dry for race one and I was easily one of the quickest, I got fourth off the line straight away, moved into third a few laps later and then took [Steijn] Schothorst around the outside to get second place.

“We had the Safety Car and when it came in for the last lap, the tyres had cooled down a lot – [Oli] Rowland went, I went, but the tyres were freezing really and I just lost the rear of the car. It was my fault completely, just a misjudgement which is really annoying. We showed we’re as quick as the Eurocup guys and although the result doesn’t show it, that was my best race of the year.”

Heavy rain overnight resulted in a very wet track surface for round 16 on Sunday morning and with no let-up in the poor conditions, officials decided to begin the race behind the Safety Car. When the action proper started on lap two, Raoul maintained his seventh place grid slot and although edged back to eighth the next time around he had good pace in the incredibly challenging weather.

On lap four, though, the Bright Spark Ventures-supported driver – while moving offline to search for better visibility in the spray – caught some standing water and his FR 2.0 aquaplaned off the circuit into retirement. Raoul didn’t even have a chance to try and make amends in the third and final race, either, when the latter part of the day’s racing was cancelled due to the worsening conditions.

Although disappointed with his eventual results, Raoul was delighted with his overall level of performance and particularly in relation to the interlopers from the blue riband Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 category. He ends his first season in Europe ninth in the points, sixth of the NEC regulars.

“You couldn’t see a thing in Sunday morning’s race”, he explained, “It was going OK but when I tried to find a line where I could get some vision, I hit a big puddle and the car aquaplaned off – race over. It’s a shame to end on that note, it could have been a high note, but considering we didn’t have any pre-season testing I’m pretty pleased to end my rookie year in the championship top 10.

“I’m really looking forward to next season now, I know the car, the tracks and the team, and if I have a team-mate with some experience who I can share data with, and we can work on developing the set-up together, we should be really strong.”

Final 2013 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup Standings:
9th Raoul Owens, 127pts

Note to editors: Copyright free images of Raoul Owens attached for editorial use; please credit Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties where used

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