Mikhail Aleshin made a winning return to Formula Renault 3.5, mastering the terrible conditions for a hard-earned victory at Motorland Aragon
From the front row Aleshin made a better start than polesitter Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1) to take a lead he held to the end.
In miserable wet conditions, Aleshin had the best visibility and made the most of it. There were a few nervy moments as he ran wide on the slippery track surface, but he recovered well to hand the revamped Carlin team a valuable win.
"It is a great start to the season, although I have to say it was probably one of the most difficult races of my life," said Aleshin. "There was so much water towards the end, you couldn't even go full throttle on the straights without nearly aquaplanning.
"We've shown what we are capable of, now we need to continue this now and stay focused for the rest of the season."
All the drivers struggled to retain control of their Dallara chassis, leading to a string of accidents and retirements, and Ricciardo lost second when he ran wide, handing the place to Italian Formula 3 champion Daniel Zampieri (Pons).
A safety car period on lap five, to allow marshals to remove a stranded car from the track, negated Aleshin's early lead. Racing resumed on lap eight, with the Russian once again executing a controlled start, while second and third-placed men Zampieri and Ricciardo battled behind him.
No sooner had racing recommenced than three separate accidents involving Jan Charouz and KMP team-mates Anton Nebylitskiy and Victor Garcia reduced the size of the field further.
Epsilon Euskadi driver Albert Costa was another victim of the conditions. From 21st on the grid, the Formula Renault Eurocup champion had charged up to sixth place when he lost control and ended his race in a gravel trap on lap 17.
Junior Lotus driver Nelson Panciatici pulled one of the race's few overtaking moves to steal fourth from Fortec's Jon Lancaster, but he too went off, gifting the Englishman the spot back.
Brendon Hartley made it two Red Bull/Tech 1 drivers in the top six, while Greg Mansell kept out of trouble to come home eighth for Comtec, just behind Carlin's Jake Rosenzweig.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 47m25.281s 2. Daniel Zampieri Pons +7.764 3. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 +16.306 4. Jon Lancaster Fortec +24.796 5. Nelson Panciatici Junior Lotus +33.113 6. Brendon Hartley Tech 1 +34.997 7. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin +39.619 8. Greg Mansell Comtec +44.936 9. Daniil Move Junior Lotus +1 lap Not classified Walter Grubmuller P1 19 laps Bruno Mendez Interwetten 17 laps Stefano Coletti Comtec 17 laps Albert Costa Epsilon 16 laps Sergio Canamasas Interwetten 16 laps Jan Charouz P1 11 laps Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 11 laps Victor Garcia KMP 11 laps Nathanael Berthon Draco 10 laps Esteban Guerrieri ISR 9 laps Filip Salaquarda ISR 8 laps Federico Leo Pons 8 laps Julian Leal Draco 4 laps Sten Pentus Fortec 3 laps Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon 0 laps
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