Nick Yelloly underlined his impressive pace in Formula Renault 3.5, with second place overall in the final round of the series at the Circuit de Catalunya today. In only his third World Series by Renault weekend, the talented Solihull 20-year old demonstrated that his recent meteoric rise from GP3 was justified with his second podium position of the weekend.
The Williams de broe and Merito-backed top rookie driver commented: “I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have had such a fantastic result in only my sixth race in Formula Renault 3.5 and I must thank the team, Pons Racing for providing such a competitive car.
“It is particularly rewarding for them to have such a strong result on their home track and today especially the car was superb. We elected to make some changes yesterday and the team translated all of my requests into producing a perfect car for qualifying and the race.”
During early morning qualifying the GP3 graduate was just 0.052 seconds adrift of Anton Nebylitskiy, thus joining the Russian on the outside of the second row, improving on his previous best starting position of fifth at Paul Ricard.
There was a chaotic start to the 26-lap final counter as front row driver and eventual champion, Robert Wickens crashed with his team mate, Jean Eric Vergne. This left Albert Costa out front from Nebylitskiy and Yelloly, who started from fourth on the grid, these three holding station until the ninth lap when Yelloly made his move on Nebylitskiy for second.
Costa extended his lead to 5.9 seconds to Yelloly, who was in turn 3.5 seconds clear of Nebylitskiy. Two laps later Nebylitskiy came under pressure from Nick as he surged into second place on lap 11. A lap later the gap between the leading duo was 6.3 seconds and Yelloly was hauling in Costa with the latter losing 2.9 seconds on the following lap.
The pit window opened shortly after and as Costa pitted, Yelloly took up the running on lap 14, with Costa emerging from the pits in sixth. After Nick’s own pit stop on lap 17, he rejoined the field in third, however, after the whole compulsory pit stop cycle, he resumed in second again behind Costa, 7.1 seconds behind the leader and 8.3 seconds clear of Brendan Hartley.
Yelloly was still on a charge, closing the gap to Costa with every tour posting consistently fastest laps until on lap 23, the margin 4.7 seconds, and it all to play for. With just three laps remaining, Nick lost fractions of a second when the yellow flag was shown, but then closed up to Costa on the final tour to finish an enthralling race as top Briton, just 4.4 seconds behind the leader, in second place.
Yelloly will stay on in Spain and head straight into the official two-day series test running with ISR, the operation behind the Red Bull Junior Team, which starts on Tuesday.