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Circuit Paul Ricard. 02 June 2020
September 08, 2012
Published on tags: Superleague
With Germany in the rear-view mirror and my lederhosen packed away for another year, it is time to dish the dirt that was discussed in the paddock. Unlike traditional German food, I do promise some spice to this latest serving that will go down well with an ice cold beer.

In the run up to this week?s race, Midnight Motorsports announced that Lukas Euler and Alex Cooper had re-upped with the team. While this decision was about as surprising as an Euler pole lap this season, what was interesting about the announcement is that it made no mention of what positions they would fill. While it's pretty obvious where champion-elect Euler will be, it does beg the question where the Supercup title contending Cooper will land.

Cooper recently made his Superleague debut at the Dutch Grand Prix in place of Rowland and finished a highly creditable sixth, despite a late call-up and an incident hampering his progress. The lack of any official wording as to which level Cooper will be racing at only leads credence to gossip that Rowland may consider stepping aside at the end of the year. It has been a career best year for Rowland, who has won two races. However he was clearly frustrated with himself after the race in Germany where he felt he cost team-mate Euler the win after the two engaged in high speed combat for the lead of the race.

It may be his ultimate desire to see his team continue its success that sees him step aside for Cooper. Whether Rowland will commit to driving should he does step aside remains to be seen. Rowland doesn't strike me as the sort of team owner who would drive for another team, like many have done in the past. His reaction to events in Germany only strengthens that viewpoint. The success of Midnight means more to him than personal success, so the idea of him potentially taking points away from the team on the race track next season is unlikely to appeal to him.

However should he make himself available, he is unlikely to be short of suitors given the fantastic year he has had and the experience in car development he brings to the table. Personally, I feel that the increasingly competitive nature of the Superleague may see him choose to sit on the pit wall to oversee operations as they transpire if he doesn't take up the second seat at Midnight.

Another hot topic amongst the paddock as it packs up for the trek to North America is the future of Kieran Ryan. The Irishman has been a feature of the GPVWC grid since 2002 but a poor season has led to question marks over whether the community's most experienced driver will be returning next year at the highest level.

The successful heydays have long been left behind for Ryan, who is a three time runner-up in the Superleague. The majority of his success was enjoyed during the GP4-era of the series with 2010 the exception rather than the norm when it comes to success on the rFactor platform. This current season is likely to go down as the worst in a career, punctuated by a disqualification at Monaco and a penchant for finding trouble on the race track on a regular basis.

With Tom Parker already said to be locked up following talks at Silverstone for next season, rumours are rife that the usually sanguine Ollie Woods has finally had enough of Ryan's inability to make good on promising race positions. Like Ryan, the team have been in decline since their banner year in 2010 and Woods is likely to feel the need to freshen up the line up to ensure the team does not fall any further down the pecking order.

Promotion from within is an option for the team, with Boyd Bryson competing for their soon to be defunct Supercup team. David Gaspers represents another option for the team. It is easy to forget that the German is in fact a reserve driver for the team and has been mightily impressive in the Formula Challenge since his debut at Hidden Valley.

Superleague regulars Lewis Redshaw and Pavel Loknovski are also rumoured to be in the frame but the current bookies favorites for the seat are two former members of the team. Woods are one of the many teams said to have tabled a bid for Dave Carr-Smith, who's stock continues to rise after his impressive victory from the back of the field at the Nurburgring. Carr-Smith previously drove for the team in 2009, winning the British Grand Prix. His time with the team however was bitter sweet, ending with a disqualification in Mexico.

Another former charge said to be on Woods' radar is Philip Cullen. Since returning to the league full-time this year, Cullen has shown remarkable improvement from his first stint in the league and currently ranks third in the Supercup. While expectation of a second season in the Supercup is expected for the Irishman, one team insider spoke to me and said that his team boss had actively sought out the Irishman in the German paddock. Cullen's previous stint with the team never reached its full potential as he joined the team in late 2005 upon their re-entry to the Superleague. A handful of appearances over two years yielded no positive results for either party although they parted on good terms.

Ollie Woods appears to hold a unique card in negotiations as both drivers have expressed a desire to return to the team to find the success they never did with the team. It is that kind of respect that you just can't buy and something that Woods is likely to feel a need to play as they seek to return to the upper echelon of the Superleague field.

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