Championship Leader Schothorst Remains On Top‏ In FR2.0 Northern European Cup

Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) championship leader Steijn Schothorst retained his place at the top of the driver standings at Hockenheim over the weekend, 14th/15th June, with three more points finishes for Manor MP Motorsport – including his third podium of the season.Round six on Sunday morning was the highlight for the Dutchman with a highly competitive drive to second place. Lining-up on the front row of the grid, having only just missed out on pole position by a mere 0.061 seconds, Schothorst remained in second position from lights-to-flag.Staying in close contact with eventual race winner Ben Barnicoat for the first half of the encounter, the 19-year-old ran with fastest lap pace as round six entered its final third and ultimately took the chequered flag on lap 15 just two seconds shy of the victory.During Saturday’s fifth round, Schothorst started 13th on the grid after a tough opening qualifying session but he made strong progress to finish in ninth place. Although edged back a position on lap one, he battled back impressively – breaking into the top 10 on lap seven and taking ninth on lap 12.In round seven, Schothorst started ninth – the grid order for the third race determined by the results of Saturday’s race – and he immediately made progress into the top eight. Pressuring Louis Deletraz for seventh, the Manor MP Motorsport racer gained the position on lap two but was elbowed back to eighth a couple of tours later before regaining the place once more.Nudged back to eighth in a close multi-car see-saw battle on lap seven, Schothorst continued to push and on lap 10 he moved back through to seventh before ending the race just 0.5 seconds shy of the top six.“First qualifying didn’t go to plan and that put Steijn on the back-foot for Saturday’s race and the third race, but he showed his true level of performance in race two with a great podium”, said Manor MP Motorsport’s Sander Dorsman, “We’d have liked to have taken a race win this weekend, and we had the pace to do it, but retaining the championship lead was always the main aim.”Less experienced team-mates Philip Morin and Julio Moreno were relatively evenly matched throughout the third weekend of the NEC season, with the former taking a best finish of 16th place in round five on Saturday and Moreno mirroring that result in the final Hockenheim encounter.Qualifying 20th and 21st on the grid respectively for the first race, Morin and Moreno made great early progress with the Swede producing a stunning first lap to climb into the top 12 and Moreno also fighting through to be in the battle just outside the top 10.Although edged back to 18th by lap 10, Morin fought back into 16th position before the finish – one place coming at the expense of Moreno who was hit by a rival on the final lap and so limped home in 20th position.In round six, Moreno started in 16th position and although losing a place on lap one the Ecuadorian quickly fought back. Remaining in the top 16 for the bulk of the 15-lap encounter, Moreno was edged back to 17th position five laps from the conclusion. Morin unfortunately posted a retirement on lap 11 when he was forced to pit with damage.With both drivers aiming for a strong run in round seven Moreno achieved his best result with 16th place, a couple of seconds ahead of his team-mate. Morin started the better placed of the duo on the eighth row of the grid but after working his way impressively into 14th place, contact from a rival dropped him to the back. He fought back well, though, into 17th position with good pace.Moreno made good early progress from 20th on the grid to gain three places on the opening tour before moving inside the top 15 a lap later. Holding position until lap 11, the Manor MP Motorsport racer was pushed back to 16th place where he stayed to the flag.“Philip and Julio both showed some good pace, but it’s always tough to really make your mark when you’re having to battle so hard in the midfield”, added Dorsman, “They’ve each got a lot of potential and we’re confident they can both be top 10 regulars with a bit more work in qualifying.”There is now a lengthy six week break in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC calendar with the fourth event of 2014 taking place on 26th/27th July at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Before then, the team’s GP2 Series squad will return to action at the Red Bull Ring in Austria next weekend, 21st/22nd June, while the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 campaign is back underway on 28th/29th June in Moscow, Russia.Provisional 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Driver Standings (after Rd7):1st Steijn Schothorst, 122pts; 17th Andrea Pizzitola, 36pts; 20th Julio Moreno, 31pts; 23rd Philip Morin, 25ptsProvisional 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Team Standings (after Rd7):4th Manor MP Motorsport, 126pts