Bertrand Baguette has taken a giant step closer to lifting the Formula Renault 3.5 title after winning the reverse grid race at the Nurburgring today
Assisted by the retirement of nearest pre-race challenger James Walker, the Draco driver has extended a 42 point lead over Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Jaime Alguersuari, with just 46 points available over the final three races.
Polesitter Daniil Move (P1) was relieved of the lead by Baguette on the inside of the Veedol Chicane on lap eight. While Move backed up the field, Baguette made a break and took a comfortable victory by 4s.
"I think it was quite a good operation by me to win the race while going for the championship," said a delighted Baguette. "I had made a horrible start, and was briefly P3, but Jon Lancaster made a mistake in front of me and I was able to quickly recover the position. I hope to put the championship in my pocket tomorrow."
A charging Fairuz Fauzy recovered from a poor opening lap, in which he briefly dropped to seventh, to take third position on the road at the chequered flag. Fortec driver Fauzy was then promoted another step on the podium after a 10s penalty was applied to Lancaster for dangerous driving.
An eventual ninth place was a bitter result for Lancaster. The Comtec driver had set the fastest lap during an attacking drive, but a defensive manoeuvre squeezing Oliver Turvey towards the pitwall attracted the attention of the race officials.
Both Lancaster and Fauzy had negotiated a way past Move into the quick RTL Kurve. Move backed off slightly in the closing laps as a sprinkling of rain greased the track, but was extremely satisfied to claim his maiden podium in European competition when Lancaster's penalty was applied.
"My target was the podium," said Move. "I have been waiting for this result for many years, and I want to present my trophy to the team because they recently lost all of their cups in the factory fire.
"I must also dedicate this result to a Russian friend of mine, another driver, who was killed in an accident five years ago. I promised his father that I would do this when I made the podium."
In fourth and fifth, Carlin twins Turvey and Alguersuari were separated by one second at the finish. Walker had been close behind them before his car ground to a halt late in the race.
Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic hounded Alguersuari across the line, while the Toulouse squad's sister machine of Brendon Hartley spent the afternoon playing catch-up after the Kiwi was tapped into a spin by SG's Guillaume Moreau at Turn 1 on the opening lap.
Interwetten's Salvador Duran, making his maiden appearance in the championship this season, was unable to take the start following a technical problem on the formation lap.
Early season points leader Marcos Martinez rode over the back of Filip Salaquarda's stationary Prema car at the start of the second lap, sustaining heavy damage to his Pons machine in the impact and causing a brief safety car period. Martinez is now mathematically unable to win the championship.
Baguette now leads the championship on 122 points, with Alguersuari second on 80 and Walker and Pic joint third on 79.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Bertrand Baguette Draco 45m01.920s 2. Fairuz Fauzy Fortec + 3.999s 3. Daniil Move P1 + 6.698s 4. Oliver Turvey Carlin + 7.164s 5. Jaime Alguersuari Carlin + 8.165s 6. Charles Pic Tech 1 + 8.776s 7. John Martin Comtec + 11.633s 8. Marco Barba Draco + 12.376s 9. Jon Lancaster Comtec + 12.484s 10. Pasquale di Sabatino RC + 13.069s 11. Guillaume Moreau SG + 16.045s 12. Anton Nebylitskiy SG + 18.286s 13. Brendon Hartley Tech 1 + 18.495s 14. Chris van der Drift Epsilon Euskadi + 28.750s 15. Mihai Marinescu Interwetten + 32.991s 16. Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon Euskadi + 34.126s 17. Julian Leal Prema + 38.753s 18. Federico Leo Pons + 39.323s Retirements: James Walker P1 15 laps Sten Pentus Fortec 8 laps Filip Salaquarda Prema 1 lap Marcos Martinez Pons 1 lap Salvador Duran Interwetten 0 laps
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