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Wickens wins wet Nurburgring thriller

Robert Wickens races with Daniel Ricciardo at the NurburgringRobert Wickens emerged on top in a stunning battle with Daniel Ricciardo to win the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race at the Nurburgring.

In treacherous conditions, with rain affecting certain parts of the circuit, the pair showed their class by pulling 23 seconds clear of third-placed Kevin Korjus.

Wickens moves into the championship lead as a result. The Canadian's Carlin team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne will need to win tomorrow's race and rely on a non-finish from Wickens to reclaim his position at the head of the drivers' standings. A prize Renault Formula 1 demonstration run is on offer for the man leaving Germany at the top of the classification.

Heavy rain 40 minutes before the start left the track wet betweens Turns 12 and 15, and the initial laps proved fraught. From pole, Wickens led cleanly away from the lights, while front-row qualifier Alexander Rossi (Fortec) made a slightly slow getaway and was challenged on the inside by Ricciardo and on his outside by Tech 1 Racing's Korjus.

Estonian Korjus grabbed second, while Rossi opted to chance the outside at Turn 1 in an attempt to recover his position but would lose further ground at the hands of an opportunistic Ricciardo.

Puddles on the road at the Veedol chicane then caught out leader Wickens and forced the field to bunch up. Ricciardo slotted into the lead, and further back his Red Bull Junior stablemate Vergne dived inside Rossi entering the final corner.

Still wheel-to-wheel on the exit of Coca-Cola, Vergne and Rossi made contact and spun in tandem across the greasy track into the pitwall. Both were immediate retirements.

The safety car was brought out while the damaged cars were cleared, but not before Ricciardo had run wide at a wet Turn 1, allowing Wickens to reclaim the lead.

Nathanael Berthon was caught out by a damp patch while running behind the safety car. The Frenchman spun out of seventh and made gentle contact with a tyre barrier.

Ricciardo gained a strong tow on Wickens as the race was restarted on lap six, and took the lead once more on the outside of Turn 1. The duo began to eke out a big margin over Korjus. Fourth place was held by Cesar Ramos in the surviving Fortec entry ahead of Nelson Panciatici (KMP Racing) and series returnee Fairuz Fauzy (Mofaz) in sixth.

Fauzy would spin down the order when rain intensified at the last corner, while Panciatici had an incident-filled race and slipped to 18th at the chequered flag.

The decisive move of the race occurred on lap 14 when the conditions caused Ricciardo to run wide on the entry to Veedol. Wickens ran Michelin-to-Michelin with his adversary down the pit straight before finally recapturing the lead for good at Turn 1.

Behind Korjus and Ramos, Epic Racing's Albert Costa worked his way up from 16th to claim fifth. Fellow Spaniard Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target) took sixth place after an entertaining battle with his team-mate Daniel Zampieri and Draco's Andre Negrao.

Results - 23 laps:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car            Time/Gap
 1.  Robert Wickens     Carlin            47m30.163s
 2.  Daniel Ricciardo   ISR                 + 0.671s
 3.  Kevin Korjus       Tech 1             + 22.951s
 4.  Cesar Ramos        Fortec             + 32.235s
 5.  Albert Costa       Epic               + 33.372s
 6.  Sergio Canamasas   BVM Target         + 33.917s
 7.  Andre Negrao       Draco              + 36.977s
 8.  Daniel Zampieri    BVM Target         + 41.200s
 9.  Anton Nebylitskiy  KMP                + 41.653s
10.  Jake Rosenzweig    Mofaz              + 47.986s
11.  Fairuz Fauzy       Mofaz              + 48.602s
12.  Walter Grubmuller  P1                 + 54.982s
13.  Stephane Richelmi  Draco              + 57.224s
14.  Brendon Hartley    Gravity-Charouz  + 1m09.509s
15.  Daniel McKenzie    Comtec           + 1m17.995s
16.  Daniel de Jong     Comtec               + 1 lap
17.  Daniil Move        P1                   + 1 lap
18.  Nelson Panciatici  KMP                  + 1 lap
19.  Sten Pentus        Epic                 + 1 lap
20.  Arthur Pic         Tech 1               + 1 lap
21.  Jan Charouz        Gravity-Charouz      + 1 lap


     Michael Herck      Pons                 19 laps
     Oliver Webb        Pons                 18 laps
     Nathanael Berthon  ISR                   3 laps
     Alexander Rossi    Fortec                0 laps
     Jean-Eric Vergne   Carlin                0 laps
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Korjus spins but wins in Germany
Wickens on pole again in the rain
Canamasas gets post-race penalty
Wickens takes Nurburgring pole
Wickens holds on to top spot
Wickens sets early pace at Nurburging