Strakka Racing team-mates bolster respective championship positions on challenging weekend in Russia
Formula Renault 3.5 Series front-runners Will Stevens and Matias Laine each chalked-up important points results for Strakka Racing during rounds eight and nine of the season over the weekend, 28th/29thJune, at Moscow Raceway.
Caterham Racing Academy driver Stevens started off perfectly in the opening test session on Friday, 27thJune, by topping the timesheets before lapping inside the top six in session two.
Qualifying, though, didn’t go quite to plan and the Briton had to settle for ninth on the grid for round eight, albeit just 0.5 seconds shy of pole position.
Ninth, however, became eighth before the race even began when front-row starter Pierre Gasly was one of three drivers to stall. When the action did finally get underway, Stevens made an excellent launch to climb into the top six.
Remaining there throughout the 29 lapper, the result actually enabled Stevens to climb into the coveted championship top three ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
Laine, meanwhile, progressed from 12thon the grid into ninth on the opening lap and then set about trying to break into the top eight with impressive pace.
Bottled up behind Richie Stanaway into the closing stages, Laine passed the Kiwi for eighth four laps from the end and took the flag on lap 29 a mere 0.5 seconds behind Marlon Stockinger, having set a best lap of the race quicker than race winner Sergey Sirotkin.
Laine led the way for Strakka in round nine qualifying on Sunday, posting the eighth quickest lap, while Stevens had to settle for a lower-than-expected 11thon the grid.
Enjoying a terrific start to race two, Laine climbed into the top six and then made his way into the podium placings by lap 11 as some drivers began to serve their mandatory pit-stops.
Remaining on track until the end of lap 13, the Finn made his stop from second position and when he rejoined he was in eighth place. As a result of a time penalty for Meindert van Buuren, though, Laine moved into seventh where he stayed to the flag.
Stevens climbed into the top 10 on the opening lap before working his way into eighth prior to making an earlier pit visit than Laine, on lap seven.
Emerging back on track down in 16thposition, when the race order settled down at mid-distance he was once again into the top 10 and after the penalty for Van Buuren, the Strakka driver moved into ninth to secure more vital championship points.
“It was a solid weekend for the team that started off with very good pace in practice,” says Strakka Racing’s team principal Dan Walmsley. “We now head to Nürburgring with both Will and Strakka Racing P4 in the standings. We know the track well and are sure to continue our strong season there.”
In the Formula Renault 3.5 Series driver standings, Stevens is fourth on 78 points – just six shy of the top three – while Laine is tied for 12thposition with 29 points. In the team championship, Strakka Racing is fourth on 107 points.
Germany’s Nurburgring will host the next two rounds of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series campaign on 12th/13thJuly.