De Jong Takes Maiden Top 10 Result‏ In FR 3.5 Finale

 Daniël De Jong rounded-off his debut season in the ultra-competitive Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Barcelona in Spain last weekend, 8th/9th October, with an outstanding drive to ninth position in the final race - his first top 10 finish in the category and maiden points score.Having been gradually improving with each outing during the course of the season, the 19-year-old Dutchman secured a season's best 12th place at Paul Ricard in France last month but managed to put that in the shade during the championship finale with a sensational performance.Sunday morning's qualifying session, for the final race of the season, went superbly well with the Comtec Racing driver steering his powerful 480bhp car to the 11th fastest time of 1m33.460 seconds (179.3 km/h) - the fourth fastest of the championship rookies.Chaos reigned at the beginning of the 45-minute encounter when title rivals Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne collided with each other, triggering a bigger incident behind which caught out a number of drivers.Thankfully, Daniël was able to avoid being caught-up in the drama - which accounted for half a dozen cars - and although losing ground from his starting slot on the sixth row of the grid he ended the opening lap in 14th position.Steadily making progress as the race wore on, the Karpack, Boix and De Jong ECOCUPS-backed driver had no troubles with his mandatory pit-stop and after breaking into the top 10 with five laps to go, he moved into ninth on lap 23 following retirement for Jake Rosenzweig.

"I'm really happy to end the season with such a good performance", said the Dutchman, "In second qualifying everything went better than we could have expected and although there was a lot going on at the start of the race, I managed to avoid any problems. It's a great feeling to have scored my first points and finish my first year in Formula Renault 3.5 with a good drive."Saturday morning's qualifying session for race one wasn't as fruitful but Daniël still did a great job with the 21st fastest time - just 1.8 seconds shy of pole position. Another strong drive enabled the Westmaas teenager to climb through the order into an eventual finish of 16th position, only a second outside the coveted top 15.One season ends, another one starts...No sooner had the final event of the World Series by Renault campaign concluded, Daniël was back on track at the Circuit de Catalunya for the first officially timed post-season collective test as teams and competitors prepare for 2012.Running with the International Draco Racing team on Tuesday, 11th October, the teenager delivered a sensational fourth fastest time during the morning session with his best lap of 1m34.260 seconds (177.8 km/h) placing him a mere 0.3 seconds shy of the outright pace. In session two, Daniël was just outside the top 10 with a time of 1m34.661 seconds (177.0 km/h) - overall for the day he was ninth."I had a great time in the test with Draco, it went really well and in the first session we were really fast", he commented, "After such a good weekend in Barcelona, it was good for my confidence to be quick again in the test so I'm very happy with that."