Duncan makes World Series by Renault debut

Race 1: Qualified 23rd, Finished 16th, Rookie 3rd
Race 2: Qualified 17th, Finished 21st, Rookie 4th

Duncan took to the international race scene in his new regular drive in World Series Formula Renault 3.5 with RC Motorsport at his home event. Starting mid-season with such a big jump from a 2.0-litre domestic championship to a 3.5-litre international series was a tall order but Duncan made the most of learning the car and working with his new engineer and team.

After two days of testing and a fair way up his steep learning curve, Duncan was disappointed with his qualifying time which put him 23rd on the grid for the first race. A set-up change during the session went the wrong way and so valuable tenths of seconds didn’t appear as he hoped. Nonetheless he improved lap after lap showing it will only be a matter of time before he’s battling for the top positions.

The first race on Saturday afternoon went well with Duncan gaining seven places from start to finish and being classified as the third finishing rookie. He made a great start and gained four positions, only to lose them at Becketts when he ran out of room on the track and took to the grass for a few moments to avoid a collision. He took advantage of an accident to make up positions while others were being cautious.

Duncan’s target ahead was Mario Romancini, but under-steer was making it difficult. He pressured the Brazilian who caught a kerb and Duncan made his way through. With the clear track ahead he could put in faster times each lap but it wasn’t enough to catch the car ahead with typres past their best. By the mid-point of the race he was lying 18th and over the following laps incidents for two front-runners gained him another two places. Throughout the race Duncan had been in the middle of a pack of rookies and his efforts were rewarded by him being the third rookie across the line and 16th overall.

Race Two held today in glorious sunshine at the Northamptonshire circuit didn’t go as well as Duncan hoped. A compulsory pit-stop is part of the race and Duncan’s team chose to start him on used tyres and to stop early, then making the most of a fresh set for the rest of the race. Even though he only had five laps to cope with the old set Duncan struggled and lost places. After a good stop, in which he gained a place on fellow rookie Alexandre Marsoin, he started his battle afresh. While he was happy with the car though the faster sections he struggled with over-steer and was having problems on the slower corners and after the pit stops had been completed Duncan was in 21st place. Despite closing on Pippa Mann, he didn’t have the traction to overtake so finished his second WSR race in 21st.

Duncan said: “In Race One I got a fantastic start and then lost the places at Becketts, but just kept my foot in when there was an accident and I found a gap to make back those places and more. If I hadn’t had quite so much under-steer I’d have passed Romancini earlier but I got him in the end.

“It was a good battle. Today’s race wasn’t as good and it’s disappointing to go backwards. It’s been a solid weekend and the whole thing was great from the learning point of view. It’s physically very tough but I’ll have that sorted for the next race now that I know where the pressures are. I’ve learned a huge amount and can’t wait for Hungary to learn more.”

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