London, U.K. – The season finale of the 2016 Renault Sport Trophy (RS01) is upon us this weekend at the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal. An intense season has taken RS01 participants to iconic racing venues across Europe and Raoul Owens will no doubt be fighting for a second consecutive victory after a scintillating Endurance Race at Spa-Francorchamps in September. We speak to the usual suspects – Raoul, his engineer and his manager – ahead of the last round.
Raoul Owens, Driver of R-ace GP [#2]
“The season has gone by so quickly and I can’t believe we are already at the final round. It seems only weeks ago we were at the test in Estoril and now it has come to the race some months later!
“After the last race at Spa, my hopes are very high for this race and I hope to repeat the same result. It was an awesome feeling to win at Spa – especially after the disappointment of losing a victory at Paul Ricard on the final lap. I believe we can pull it off again with both myself and the team doing everything possible to make it happen.
“This year has been very up and down, but the last race really turned things around for me, so I’m really looking forward to this race. We also had a very strong test in the pre-season with P3 so the potential is definitely there!”
François Gagneux, Race Engineer to Raoul Owens
“The last meeting of the season is held at Estoril. Our race crew already have a good knowledge of this track, having completed two days of official test there in March. Raoul had particularly shown a strong pace on this occasion, finishing less than 0.1s from the pace-setter over the two days.
“Estoril is one of the hardest tracks of the season to deal with as it features an impressive combination of fast corners, narrow sections, changes of direction, braking zones featuring corners, as well as uphill and downhill sections.
“Weather is always unpredictable at Estoril at this time in the year because the track is close from the coast, but we experienced both wet and dry conditions in March, so we are pretty confident with our pace whatever the conditions may be.
“Raoul scored his first win of the season at Spa-Francorchamps at the previous race meeting and everyone in the team is excited about the prospect of winning again with Raoul at Estoril and to finish the season on a high note.”
Henry James, Driver Manager to Raoul Owens
“This weekend we are travelling back to Estoril, the same track where we kick-started Raoul’s 2016 season with R-ace GP during the winter. Raoul was confident in all weather conditions at Estoril and we even returned to the track for a second time in April for one of the official series tests.
“I am sure Raoul is excited to be heading to Portugal. Not only does he enjoy the track and have good data references from previous visits, he is also surfing on a high wave since his victory at Spa with fellow teammate, Fredrik Blomstedt. The duo are undoubtedly going to be carrying their momentum to push for another gold finish. This time Raoul will be starting the first leg of the Endurance Race, so the pressure of his qualifying position rests more heavily on his shoulders.
“Raoul has been mighty quick all season, so it would be great to see him on the front row alongside his teammate Kevin Korjus. He should focus on enjoying the weekend and I believe the speed will come naturally to him.”
The Autódromo do Estoril is located in the coastal Cascais municipality of Portugal – one of the favourite retreats of residents from the neighbouring capital city, Lisbon. The circuit was formerly home to the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix until 1997. Since then, the circuit has featured other prestigious motorsport events including DTM, World Series by Renault and the FIA GT Championship. And thanks to its highly varied arrangement of corners, abrasive track surface and technical second sector.
Estoril has become a popular test venue for several teams and series, but it is also a venue which attracts large crowds. This weekend will also feature the season finale of the European Le Mans Series and Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, so there will be plenty of racing action on show. A win by Raoul and Fredrik Blomstedt in Saturday’s Endurance Race could promote the duo to third place in the RS01 Endurance standings, so be sure not to miss this race.
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