...We really do need to nail qualifying as we’re getting caught-up behind people in the races we shouldn’t even be near on track.
(PRWEB UK) 4 August 2014
Raoul Owens produced a fantastic recovery drive during the second of the weekend’s Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) races at Assen in The Netherlands on Sunday, 3rd August, to post a well-deserved top 12 finish — having been shunted off the track on the opening lap.
While qualifying for rounds 10 and 11 of the season didn’t go according to plan, during the races the Pembury driver was more than capable of lapping with podium-challenging pace and therefore rued contact in each encounter which cost the chance of a healthy haul of points.
Beginning Sunday’s race from the middle of the pack in 14th position, one place ahead of Mark Burdett Motorsport team-mate Jake Hughes, Raoul made a good getaway but his hopes of quickly breaking into the top 10 were dashed on the first lap when an errant rival pitched him off the track.
Recovering at the tail of the field in 24th position, a long way down on the cars ahead, the British racer was certainly fired-up and mounted a superb recovery. Even though Assen is renowned for its lack of overtaking opportunities in single-seaters, Raoul managed to carve his way through the order and halfway into the race he had already climbed into 15th position.
Posting a best lap of 1m37.032 seconds (165.24 km/h average), a match for the pace of second placed finisher Ryan Tveter, the second year NEC racer continued to make excellent progress and ended the race inside the top 12 just a couple of seconds shy of Hughes.
“Whenever you qualify in the middle of the grid or nearer the back it’s always going to be difficult in the races,” said the Bright Spark Ventures-supported driver. “I made a decent start but another driver thought it’d be a good idea to just cut across me and I got launched into the gravel. By the time I’d gone all the way around the outside of the gravel trap, I was dead last by quite a way.
“I was pretty angry at that point, so I got my head down and had the same pace as the top five. To finish 12th was great from where I recovered, the pace of the car was very good. It’s really tough to overtake at Assen, so I’m pretty surprised actually at how far up the order I managed to get.”
Unfortunately for Raoul, he wasn’t able to score in the first race of the weekend on Saturday when he was forced to retire on lap seven. From the eighth row of the grid, he held 16th position over the course of the first lap before the Safety Car was deployed following an early incident.
Determined to make up as much ground as swiftly as possible, he moved into the top 15 at the expense of Roy Geerts shortly after the re-start and then set his sights on Jules Gounon. Unbeknown to Raoul, the right-rear of his car had been tagged at some point and had resulted in damage to the suspension which eventually collapsed on lap seven.
“I’m not actually sure what happened,” reflected Raoul, “There must have been some contact from someone as the rear suspension was weakened and at the last corner on lap six, the right-hand side just collapsed. It wasn’t something that was repairable, so it was frustrating not to score as we had the potential to be in the top 10.
“We know we can do it, our race pace has been strong, but we really do need to nail qualifying as we’re getting caught-up behind people in the races we shouldn’t even be near on track. It’s got to happen at the next round, qualifying is costing us the chance of some really good finishes — getting that right is fundamentally important.”
Following a welcome four-week break and a chance to relax after a very busy month of racing, Raoul will return to action for the penultimate event of the NEC season on 30th/31st August at Most in the Czech Republic.
Provisional 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup Standings (after Rd11):
13th Raoul Owens, 79pts
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