Jerez Formula Renault 3.5: Oliver Rowland takes record eighth win

Oliver Rowland achieved a record breaking eighth Formula Renault 3.5 victory of the season in Saturday's opening race of the weekend at Jerez

Jerez Formula Renault 3.5: Oliver Rowland takes record eighth win

The Fortec driver, who wrapped up this year's drivers' crown in the preceding meeting at Le Mans, was made to work hard for the result by poleman Tom Dillmann and Egor Orudzhev in the early laps.

Double 2015 winner Orudzhev offered strong pressure to second-placed Rowland when conditions were at their worst in the initial running, and the champion elected to save his tyres in anticipation of the circuit drying.

Both men had reeled in early leader Dillmann by lap eight, when the top three was separated by just 1.5 seconds.

After some close Michelin-to-Michelin racing, two tours later Rowland grabbed the lead with a gutsy move into the sweeping right-hander at Turn 5, and thereafter streaked clear to achieve a 10.8s margin of victory.

Carlin racer Dillmann's hopes of breaking his 2015 victory drought ended when his Jagonya Ayam-backed car slowed with a left-rear puncture shortly after being passed.

Rowland felt light contact at Turn 4 was likely to have been responsible.

"I think there may have been very minor contact between Tom and I, but I really had nowhere to go," said Rowland, who also achieved a record for the most points scored in a season in FR3.5's 11-year history.

"I asked the team for a car that would be gentle on tyres, as I thought 40 minutes on a set of wets could be pushing it if the circuit began to dry.

"I think it's clear that's what they gave me, so thank you to Fortec."

Orudzhev's second place keeps the Russian in the hunt for third in drivers' standings.

The position was held by Dean Stoneman entering the weekend, but the Red Bull junior driver slips five points behind DAMS team-mate Nyck de Vries, who finished fourth, as a consequence of losing out on a slick tyre gamble.

Dillmann was also among those to, unsuccessfully, chance a change onto slick tyres in the closing stages, before throwing in the towel when well out of contention.

Championship runner-up Matthieu Vaxiviere emerged on top from a furious early battle with Jazeman Jaafar to claim the final place on the podium.

"I think qualifying was really complicated this morning with the red flags, and then after the beginning of the race I thought we couldn't achieve the win," said Vaxiviere.

"I am pleased to finish ahead of a DAMS car, though.

"It's important for the teams' standings, and de Vries was really quick during the middle of the race."

Tio Ellinas completed a relatively lonely run to fifth; the Cypriot is one of six drivers who remain in contention for third in the standings along with the DAMS pair, Orudzhev, Jaafar and Dillmann.

RESULTS - 23 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 43m14.735s
2 Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 10.879s
3 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 13.428s
4 Nyck de Vries DAMS 16.481s
5 Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 26.020s
6 Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 43.150s
7 Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 48.729s
8 Andre Negrao International Draco Racing 52.543s
9 Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 56.522s
10 Yu Kanamaru Pons Racing 58.066s
11 Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 58.633s
12 Beitske Visser AVF 1m00.321s
13 Dean Stoneman DAMS 1m12.467s
14 Nikita Zlobin Pons Racing 1m14.231s
15 Alfonso Celis AVF 1m33.354s
16 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1m37.926s
17 Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1 Lap
- Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing Retirement
- Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Retirement

Follow the final race of the Formula Renault 3.5 era as it happens with Autosport Race Centre Live from 2.30pm UK time on Sunday

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Jerez Formula Renault 3.5: Dillmann takes maiden pole position
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