Oliver Rowland wins 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 title with Fortec

Egor Orudzhev picked up his second Formula Renault 3.5 victory at Le Mans after an enthralling battle with Matthieu Vaxiviere, but Oliver Rowland secured the 2015 title by finishing eighth

Oliver Rowland wins 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 title with Fortec

Saturday winner Rowland started 14th after losing two quick laps in qualifying for track limit infringements, but the Fortec driver fought his way up six positions to clinch a title that had appeared a formality entering the race.

"I wasn't well this morning, which also didn't help in qualifying, but I think we would have started seventh without losing my quickest lap," said Rowland, who becomes the first Briton to win the FR3.5 championship, having already equalled Carlos Sainz Jr's record of seven wins.

"I want to say a massive thank you to Fortec and the RSF [Racing Steps Foundation], without whom I wouldn't be here.

"Also, congratulations to Matthieu, he has pushed me hard all year, and I had to give 110 per cent every time to beat him, but that has made the difference."

Distant title rival Vaxiviere needed to win all three remaining races with Rowland failing to score a single point in order to defeat the Sheffield racer.

From the outside of the front row, the Lotus Formula 1 junior driver made a terrible start.

Vaxiviere admitted to changing into fourth gear rather than third in a moment of over-excitement, and dropped to seventh at the completion of the first lap.

Polesitter Tio Ellinas survived cutting the first corner to lead an early top six of Carlin's Tom Dillmann, Orudzhev, Aurelien Panis, Dean Stoneman and Nyck de Vries.

The safety car was brought out on lap five after a spectacular collision between Yu Kanamaru and Andre Negrao at the Dunlop chicane.

Negrao was launched into a roll, while Kanamaru also retired, albeit escaping with relatively minor damage.

Several drivers opted to make their mandatory pitstops at the first opportunity on lap seven, including leader Ellinas, Stoneman and Rowland - who had jumped three places at the start.

Dillmann suffered a miserable stop next time around and effectively dropped out of victory contention.

Ellinas also lost ground in the pits, rejoining behind Hungaroring winner Orudzhev's SMP-backed Arden car.

In order to get the home favourite back in the hunt, Lotus chose a late pit strategy for Vaxiviere.

He executed a series of fast laps to move up the order before finally coming in on lap 15 of 28.

Orudzhev swept past as Vaxiviere exited the pits, but a two-second lead was rapidly whittled down as a fired-up Vaxiviere responded to vocal local support.

Vaxiviere's closest opportunity to grab the lead came two laps from home in the first sequence of corners, before a last-ditch attempt was staged at the final turn on the last lap, which resulted in a spectacular slide through the gravel trap on the exit.

As Orudzhev defended his lead, Ellinas had several close moments holding onto the final podium position from Stoneman, including cutting the first chicane when under attack.

RESULTS - 28 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 41m29.261s
2 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 2.388s
3 Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 9.075s
4 Dean Stoneman DAMS 10.283s
5 Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 10.889s
6 Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing 14.193s
7 Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 14.994s
8 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 18.221s
9 Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 19.017s
10 Nyck de Vries DAMS 19.379s
11 Marlon Stockinger Lotus 20.577s
12 Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 20.886s
13 Beitske Visser AVF 26.834s
14 Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 27.396s
15 Nikita Zlobin Pons Racing 27.653s
16 Alfonso Celis AVF 31.223s
17 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 36.781s
- Andre Negrao International Draco Racing Retirement
- Yu Kanamaru Pons Racing Retirement


shares
comments
Le Mans FR3.5: Tio Ellinas on pole, Oliver Rowland only 14th

Previous article

Le Mans FR3.5: Tio Ellinas on pole, Oliver Rowland only 14th

Next article

Oliver Rowland's prize F1 test for FR3.5 title in doubt

Oliver Rowland's prize F1 test for FR3.5 title in doubt
Load comments
How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up Plus

How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up

When Renault ended its support of its 3.5 Formula, there were fears about the category's future. But as PETER MILLS explains, the rebadged FV8 3.5 series has retained an appeal to drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Feb 3, 2016
The all-time FR3.5 top 10 Plus

The all-time FR3.5 top 10

An era ended in 2015 as Renault withdrew its backing of Formula Renault 3.5. GLENN FREEMAN and PETER MILLS pick the 10 best drivers from the World Series by Renault years

Formula V8 3.5
Jan 8, 2016
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2015 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2015

The 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season will be notable for being the last with the French company's backing but also produced a worthy champion in Oliver Rowland. PETER MILLS evaluates this year's crop of drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 17, 2015
Renault's ladder to Formula 1 Plus

Renault's ladder to Formula 1

Since 2005 the World Series by Renault package has launched a host of young stars on the path to Formula 1. But there's much more to the events, both on and off the track

Formula V8 3.5
Aug 13, 2015
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2014 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2014

The field was perhaps not as strong as in the previous season, but Carlos Sainz Jr emerged as a worthy Formula Renault 3.5 champion. GLENN FREEMAN rates the top 2014 drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 11, 2014
The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2013 Plus

The top 10 FR3.5 drivers of 2013

There were some standout performances in the Formula Renault 3.5 title race this year, but one racer stood above all the others. GLENN FREEMAN looks back and picks out his top 10 drivers

Formula V8 3.5
Nov 15, 2013
The 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 grid guide Plus

The 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 grid guide

Last year's field was extraordinary and hard to match, but the Formula Renault 3.5 grid will still have plenty of talent this season. Glenn Freeman runs through the field ahead of this weekend's season opener

Formula V8 3.5
Apr 4, 2013
Vandoorne: future McLaren F1 star? Plus

Vandoorne: future McLaren F1 star?

Landing the Fortec seat that took rising star Robin Frijns to the 2012 FR3.5 title was already a good sign for Stoffel Vandoorne. Then McLaren took him under its wing. Peter Mills tells Vandoorne's story so far

Formula V8 3.5
Feb 20, 2013