Debut podium goes begging after career-best qualifying for Owens

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Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup racer Raoul Owens was desperately unlucky to miss out on a potential maiden podium finish at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, having begun the event with a sensational career-best performance in qualifying.

Raoul Owens, Silverstone GP Circuit, UK

Qualifying has been our weaker point this year, the race pace has been good but we’ve had problems getting it together in qualifying. This weekend we didn’t have that problem, we cracked it and were looking good for the races.

Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup racer Raoul Owens was desperately unlucky to miss out on a potential maiden podium finish at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 1st/2nd June, having begun the event with a sensational career-best performance in qualifying.

Producing a marked improvement on his return to the UK for his ‘home’ race, the 18-year-old from Kent was in outstanding form and, with his Mark Burdett Motorsport fettled car working well, Raoul was able to post the second fastest time in his qualification group.

Equating to fourth on the grid for both races at the 3.66-mile home of the British Grand Prix, hopes were justly high of two potential podium challenges and things certainly started well during the sixth round on Saturday.

Making a rapid getaway, Raoul held fourth place and after a brief Safety Car period he retained his position and set about challenging Norway’s Dennis Olsen for third. Running within half a second of his rival through the mid-part of the race, he piled on the pressure but Raoul’s hopes of a sensational result were dashed when he was slapped with a drive-through penalty for a ‘false start’.

Deemed by race officials to have jumped the start, a decision which came very late in the race, the Bright Spark Ventures-backed driver had no option but to give up his top four placing. After serving his penalty he finished in a frustrating 12th place.

“I have to take the blame for the penalty, it was a bit of a tight call but I accept it”, said a phlegmatic Raoul, “I was really happy with our pace in qualifying, we finally got upto the front and we were ready to fight for the podium.

“Qualifying has been our weaker point this year, the race pace has been good but we’ve had problems getting it together in qualifying. This weekend we didn’t have that problem, we cracked it and were looking good for the races.”

Round seven also started with a great deal of promise for the Cape Town domiciled youngster but after being hit from behind by a rival at the Brooklands left-hander on lap two, his race came to a premature end to compound an unlucky weekend.

With an excellent launch away from the second row of the grid, Raoul held onto fourth place and was determined to battle for his first podium. Although under pressure from Olsen, the first year racer looked to have everything in hand but as he rounded the apex of Brooklands on lap two a desperately late overtaking attempt by the Norwegian eliminated Raoul from the race.

“Race two was such a shame”, explained the disappointed Formula Renault 2.0 NEC rookie, “It was so early in the race to try a late move like that, I was already at the apex when he hit my left-rear and his front wing endplate slashed my tyre and caused other damage as well.

“We just need to think ahead to Spa now, it’s a long wait until then but we’ve cracked what we wanted to in qualifying this weekend and we’ll definitely take that forward. It’s just such a shame to have wasted the promise we had and lose our opportunities for two big results.”

There is now a lengthy eight week summer break for the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup competitors with the fourth race meeting of the season taking place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 27th/28th July.

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Oliver Reimann
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