WSR: Ellinas claims maiden victory as support series driver escapes huge crash unscathed (VIDEO)


Tio Ellinas claimed his maiden victory in Formula Renault 3.5 on Saturday as the World Series by Renault programme ventured to Silverstone in England.

Formula Renault 3.5 is the flagship series of the World Series by Renault programme, and has produced a number of Formula 1 drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Following a two-month break, the championship returned at Silverstone this weekend as series leader Oliver Rowland opted to miss the GP2 race at Monza so he could continue his title bid.

However, it was Strakka Racing driver Ellinas, formerly of GP2 and GP3, that scored pole position in the morning before converting it into his maiden FR3.5 victory with a dominant display.

The Cypriot went lights-to-flag en route to his first single seater victory since the final race of the 2013 GP3 Series season, charging his emotions into a positive result.

“The past two weeks have been difficult as I lost my grandfather,” Ellinas said. “I dedicate this win to him.

“The weekend started well, but we have struggled since the start of the year to convert our speed in practice into podiums.

“The start was a bit tricky and I felt a little bit of contact, but I then was able to create a gap. This victory is good for the team and me.

“I hope to continue the season like this and join the top three as Oliver and Matthieu [Vaxiviere] are very strong.”

Rowland recorded his sixth consecutive podium finish in FR3.5 by finishing second, extending his championship lead over Vaxiviere to 29 points after the Frenchman crossed the line in third.

The biggest talking point from Saturday at Silverstone came courtesy of the drivers in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, the series below Formula Renault 3.5.

Whilst running under safety car conditions, a collision resulted in Ferdinand Habsburg’s car being thrown high into the air before rolling once it returned to earth and then coming to rest the right way up (skip to 25s for the incident).

Remarkably, Habsburg walked away from the shunt unharmed, although the same could not be said of his car.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”