Spa Francorchamps, Belgium – September 25 2016: Team Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 driver Fabian Schiller was crowned Renault Sport Series Am Drivers’ Champion at Spa Francorchamps. Schiller attained an unassailable lead with one round of the series remaining.
Saturday’s endurance race started well for Schiller and team-mate Markus Palttala. Starting from pole, the young German held the lead, however a first corner accident meant that only a handful of racing laps were completed before the pitstops.
Palttala took the car over in the lead of the race, and held it for much of his stint despite 65kg of success ballast. Eventually he was caught and passed, and was soon sandwiched between two cars. With two laps remaining, the third placed driver collided with Palttala, ending his race at La Source. The result leaves the pairing with a mathematical chance of winning the endurance drivers’ title – a galling situation for a driving team who have led the championship since the first round.
In his individual sprint, Schiller was the class of the field. From pole position, he was never headed and crossed the line first. His perfect score ensured he was crowned champion, regardless of results in the final races at Estoril.
Palttala, unfortunately, was in the wars again in his solo race. Starting eighth, he made a great start and was soon fighting for fifth place. After a chaotic first turn, the Finn was part of a three-wide group into Eau Rouge; he came out ahead, but was sufficiently damaged that he could climb no higher than fifth place in the race. He sits third in the Pro drivers’ standings after the weekend.
Schiller is Am champion with 153 points – 30 more than his nearest rival. Palttala is third in Pro with 76 points, having missed one round of the series. The pair sit second in the endurance category after the unfortunate end to the race, with 69 points – 13 points shy of the lead. Team Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 continues to top the teams’ standings, with 375 points.
The final round of the season, at Estoril in Portugal, will take place on October 21-23.
“I’m overjoyed to be champion. It’s been my goal right from the start, and to achieve it in my first year with the team is a special feeling. The team have been fantastic – so easy to work with and professional. I have to thank them. I also need to thank Markus, who has made me a better racing driver, and helped me to reach this title. Now I want to reward the guys, and particularly Marc van der Straten, with the teams’ title!”
“Congratulations to Fabian for winning the Am title. He has been dominating the category and deserves the glory – we signed a young talent and he’s made great progress this year. This weekend was his strongest performance so far and I’m convinced he has a bright future in sportscar racing. I’m also happy we continue leading the teams’ championship but I’m very unhappy with what took place in the end of the endurance race yesterday. Accidents are part of motor racing, but taking others out on purpose, and by team orders, is not the way we see professional racing. The penalties attributed to those involved didn’t give us any points back. In any case, we’ll keep working hard and challenge for more race wins and titles in Portugal.”
Marc van der Straten, Team Owner
“It’s been a fantastic weekend at home for us. To win a championship, here at Spa, it’s a very special feeling. I’m extremely proud. Fabian is a star of the future, I’m sure. The team have been fantastic, he has been fantastic, it’s a deserved result. It’s a shame that things did not go our way in the endurance race – when something unsporting happens on the race track, it’s extremely hard to take, especially when it has cost us quite dearly. Of course, we will fight just as hard in Estoril.”
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