British driver Oliver Rowland and his Fortec Motorsport team won their first race of the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 series season at Motorland Aragon this past weekend. It was the Briton’s first victory in the series, and Fortec’s first since last years Moscow event where Stoffel Vandoorne took the win.
Rowland’s first victory came a day after the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver clinched his maiden podium finish, and it propelled him up to second place in the championship standings behind the Red Bull backed Carlos Sainz of DAMS. It was also the first time Rowland had started on pole position this year, and the first time that Sainz was not fastest in qualifying.
“The car was incredible, even at the end,” said a happy Rowland after the event. “The team did a great job and I can’t thank them enough.
“It was really important to get a good start and we chose high down-force which meant you had to be clever with the DRS. Fortunately we had unbelievable pace throughout the race and it was just a case of controlling everything.”
It was the first race of the season that drivers were faced with a mandatory pit stop mid-race, and Rowland was one of the last drivers to take it on lap ten. Believe it or not it was the first pit stop the young Brit had ever done.
“This was the first race pit-stop that I’ve ever done! I was a bit nervous but I had quite a big gap so was able to keep control.”
Talking about race one, he admitted he was a little wary at the start, having made an error in Monza last time out.
”My start was a little difficult, in as much as I had already messed up at Monza. The race pace was good, but it is so hard to overtake on this track.”
Team-mate Sergey Sirotkin had a disappointing weekend, finishing eighth in race one but being forced to retire from race two on lap 19 with suspension damage. He also suffered with his car going into anti-stall at least twice, once of which was after contact with young Spanish driver Roberto Merhi in his Zeta Corse machine.
Rowland now sits second in the championship on 49 points, thirteen points behind leader Sainz. Sirotkin is currently eighth on 25 points. Fortec Motorsport lead the Teams’ championship on 74 points, eleven clear of DAMS.