Team Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 took the teams’ title, and drivers Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller the endurance drivers’ title, to round off the Renault Sport Series in Estoril. The result adds to the Am class drivers’ crown already earned by Schiller in Spa-Francorchamps.
With titles still in reach, strong results were vital. For Saturday’s endurance race, Palttala started in second place and immediately attempted to make progress. However, a melee in the first few turns resulted in the Finn being spun around, and he found himself at the back of the field.
All was not lost, however. A safety car bunched the field up and Palttala was able to move into fifth position, before a strategy call by the crew brought him in earlier than planned. The move was a masterstroke, moving Palttala out of traffic and putting Schiller into clean air. The German was second after all pitstops had been completed, but soon took the lead. Though a late race off-track incident meant they were denied victory, the pair finished in second place.
With their main endurance championship competition eliminated in an accident, the pair was crowned champions. The points accrued also secured the teams’ title before Sunday’s sprint races.
Thus, the team raced on Sunday largely with pressure off. In his Am race, Schiller pulled away from pole position, before contact with the wall dropped him some time. However, his exceptional pace ensured he had enough in hand to keep the lead and take his fourth sprint race victory of the season.
Palttala started his race second, but was involved in contact in the first turns of the race, and was unable to better fifth position. It was good enough to earn him third in the points at season’s end.
“This has been a really interesting year for me, and I’m so pleased the team comes away from here with two more titles. It’s been a real challenge, this championship, and we couldn’t have done it without our friends at Monlau, who have been wonderful. The whole team have been fantastic – just take yesterday’s strategy call in the endurance race as an example. The racing has been hard, frenetic, and I’m proud, personally, to add ‘Renault Sport Series Endurance Champion’ to my CV. Thanks to Fabian, who has been mega, for helping to achieve that. I also have to thank Marc van der Straten for making all this happen.”
“It’s been a dream first season with Marc VDS. I’ve achieved all my personal ambitions for the season, which is to win both drivers’ titles and the team cup too. I’d like to apologise to the team for my mistake on Saturday, which cost us a sure win in the endurance race, but I’m glad that we were able to claim the title anyway. This team is just amazing, and I really owe a lot to Markus for everything he taught me this year.”
Marc van der Straten, Team Owner
“I’m very proud to have three more titles for the Marc VDS Racing Team. It’s fantastic to take two drivers’ titles, of course, but for me the team award is the most special. Motorsport is a team effort and the team performed exceptionally all year. I want to extend my warmest thanks to everyone at Monlau. We could not have asked for better partners in this adventure. Everyone in the Marc VDS Racing Team family can be proud today.”