Oliver Rowland only requires one point from the remaining three races of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season to secure the championship after taking victory in race one around the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans on Saturday.
The British Racing Steps Foundation-backed Fortec Motorsports driver took the maximum twenty-five points on offer for the victory, and although Matthieu Vaxiviere finished second on the road, a ten second penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits demoted the Frenchman to tenth, meaning Rowland has a 74 point advantage with just 75 points remaining this season.
Rowland also survived contact from Vaxiviere, when the Lotus driver clipped the rear tyre of the Fortec driver’s car, breaking his front wing endplate as a result.
Egor Orudzhev drove a strong race and inherited second place due to Vaxiviere’s punishment, with the Arden Motorsport driving taking his best finish since his surprise victory at the Hungaroring earlier this season.
Vaxiviere initially had passed the Russian, but completed the move by cutting the second part of the chicane to do so, and then defended from Orudzhev despite his broken wing and again running off track to maintain position.
Tom Dillmann took his first podium since the race in Monaco in May, finishing on the tail of Orudzhev in his Jagonya Ayam with Carlin machine, while Dean Stoneman missed out on another visit to the podium in fourth for DAMS.
A fast starting Aurélien Panis claimed fifth for Tech 1 Racing, ahead of Yu Kanamaru, who secured his first points for Pons Racing in just his third appearance for the team.
Nyck de Vries could only finish seventh for DAMS ahead of Roy Nissany of Tech 1 Racing, while Tio Ellinas made a poor start from fifth on the grid and could only recover to finish ninth for Strakka Racing, being classified ahead of the penalised Vaxiviere.
Le Mans Race 1 Result
|1||4||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Fortec Motorsports||42m33.351s|
|2||6||Egor Orudzhev||RUS||Arden Motorsport||+4.226s|
|3||26||Tom Dillmann||FRA||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||+4.983s|
|5||18||Aurelien Panis||FRA||Tech 1 Racing||+6.026s|
|6||39||Yu Kanamaru||JAP||Pons Racing||+7.028s|
|7||1||Nyck de Vries||NED||DAMS||+8.374s|
|8||17||Roy Nissany||ISR||Tech 1 Racing||+10.030s|
|9||11||Tio Ellinas||CYP||Strakka Racing||+11.984s|
|11||12||Gustav Malja||SWE||Strakka Racing||+16.168s|
|12||19||Andre Negrao||BRZ||International Draco Racing||+17.352s|
|13||3||Jazeman Jaafar||MAL||Fortec Motorsports||+22.753s|
|16||25||Sean Gelael||INO||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||+29.440s|
|17||40||Nikita Zlobin||RUS||Pons Racing||+38.886s|
|RET||5||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Arden Motorsport||Retired|
|RET||15||Alfonso Celis Jr||MEX||AVF||Retired|