Owens Maintains Championship Position At Luckless Croft

Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship racer Raoul Owens maintained 13th position in the driver standings at Croft in North Yorkshire on Sunday, 22nd July, despite a luckless weekend in which he was forced to retire from both races.Going into the fourth event of the season suffering from a bout of tonsillitis, the 17-year-old from Pembury in Kent wasnt at optimum fitness but still hoped to try and match the season-best eighth place result achieved last time out at Thruxton.Things got off to an unexpectedly fiery start for Raoul on Saturday, 21st July, when a fuel injector came loose during the 15-minute free practice. Suspecting an acceleration problem, the young racer pitted and it was lucky he did as the Antel Motorsport mechanics instantly dealt with the fire and then worked wonders to repair the car ahead of the opening qualifying session.Unfortunately, the grid determining sessions didnt go according to plan when a tracking issue on his FR 2.0 led to problems with the handling so he had to settle for uncharacteristic ninth row starts for each encounter. Climbing into the top 15 on the first lap of race one, despite continued issues with his steering, Raoul pressed on and challenged for the top 12. As the race wore on though, so the available grip reduced and he had to fight the car more and more just to keep it pointing in the right direction. On lap seven his luck ran out when he clipped the tyre stack at the chicaneleading to an instant retirement.The car kept scrubbing the tyres, Croft is quite abrasive as it is, and eventually the tyres really went offit was a struggle just to keep the car on the track, said the Cape Town-domiciled racer, I was almost having to guess where to turn-in at the chicane each lap and I just turned in a bit too early on lap seven which bent the left side of the car.With an improved car for round nine, Raoul held high hopes of making progress and the extra confidence showed as he climbed from 18th place into the top 12 during the early laps. Pressuring Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem after a mid-race Safety Car period, Raoul searched for a way past but on lap 15 it all went wrong when Ghanem clipped the tyres at the chicane.Firing the stack directly into the path of Raoul, the Bright Spark Ventures-supported driver had no time to react and the resulting contact smashed the front of his car leading to his second non-score of the weekend.The car felt better for race two, I felt a lot more confident and we went well, he said, I took advantage of an incident at Tower early on, about five guys came together so I just went up the inside of all of them. I got a good re-start after the Safety Car and was hassling the guy in front, I was all over him for a few laps but then he clipped the tyre stack and brought it on the track directly in front of me. I had nowhere to go and it wiped the front off the car. Its been a really tough weekend, one to forget, but I must say a big thank you to the team for doing such a great job after the fire in practice.Next on the schedule for Raoul will be a visit to Donington Park in Leicestershire over the weekend 18th/19th August for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship. We really do need to get a good qualifying at Donington, added Raoul, Ill be 100 per cent fit there and more determined than ever to have our best weekend yet.Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):13th Raoul Owens, 58pts

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