Oliver Rowland is setting the pace for others to follow as leader of the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 championship, racing at circuits around Europe.
After finishing fourth in the series for one-make international single-seaters last year with two wins, so far in 2015 Rowland has won four of the nine races, otherwise never lower than a top-six finish in the 530bhp car.
“We’ve got the pace, the consistency and a good car,” he said.
The Barnsley 23 year-old got his 2015 campaign off to a flying start with a win at the Spanish Motorland Aragon circuit, holding second nd-place from lights-to-flag, Rowland being awarded victory and the championship lead when the leader jumped the start.
Combined with third place in the final race of the weekend, the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver maintained a slim three points lead at the close of the season opener.
An opening lap puncture in a chaotic round two race supporting the Monaco Grand Prix, had Rowland deliver one of the best drives of his career as he bounced back to claim sixth place, and secured the fastest lap, but it dropped him down to championship secondd-place.
That became third-place after the first race at Belgium’s Spa circuit had him finish fifth, but he regained the Formula Renault 3.5 championship lead six points clear when he converted pole position for the weekend’s second race into a convincing light-to-flag win, a comfortable 2.3seconds ahead.
In the races following, Rowland has steadily re-inforced his lead: after his third win of the season at the Hungaroring, and a third place, it was boosted to 16 points.
A dominant drive from his third pole position of the season for the opening race of the weekend at the Austrian Red Bull Ring became win number four, together with a second place gave Rowland a new 26-point championship lead.
Keeping him occupied during the championship summer break, Rowland has made guest appearances in the GP2 series at the British and Belgian Grands Prix, “another chance to show what I can do,” he said
Delivering an impressive debut performance scoring points in both races at Silverstone Rowland finished 10th, plus a hotly-contested seventh place in the reversed grid sprint race.
An amazing front row start at Spa came to grief after a puncture damaged the car to the extent that he was unable to continue, and sprint race gearbox gremlins to put an end to his drive from the back of grid with three laps to go.
The Racing Steps Foundation takes drivers to the doorstep of Grand Prix racing by which time they should have made a sufficiently good impression to attract a F1 drive. If Rowland keeps up his FR3.5 performances to win the championship then this should surely happen.