Paul Ricard FR3.5: Carlos Sainz Jr nears title with dominant win

Carlos Sainz Jr moved to within touching distance of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship with a dominant victory in race two at Paul Ricard

The Spaniard stole the lead from polesitter Pierre Gasly with a fast start, squeezing his Red Bull stablemate to the inside of the track before swooping around the outside to move ahead.

Gasly ran wide at the first corner as a result, and had to spent the first couple of laps fending off Jazeman Jaafar to hang onto second place.

Jaafar tried everything he could to get past Gasly, but in the end his attacks left him open to a challenge from Roberto Merhi, who pounced on him for third.

Merhi would lose the place to the Malaysian during the pitstops, but he once again found a way by on track in the second half of the race.

However, by this point their fight was no longer for a podium place, as Oliver Rowland made use of an early pitstop to catapult from fifth to third at their expense.

Rowland - who had leapt from eighth to fifth with his second great start of the weekend - briefly attacked Gasly as the Frenchman got his tyres up to temperature after his own stop, but he could not quite keep up and had to settle for third.

Jaafar made Merhi work for his fourth place by attacking a few more times in the closing laps, but the Spaniard held on to leave himself 44 points behind Sainz in the title race with 50 remaining in next month's Jerez finale.

Gasly's second place was not enough to keep him in title contention, so the championship decider will be an all-Spanish affair.

Behind the Merhi/Jaafar scrap, yesterday's podium finisher Matthieu Vaxiviere capped a solid weekend with sixth, getting the better of Sergey Sirotkin, who slipped from third on the grid mainly thanks to his car making a sluggish getaway.


Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Carlos Sainz Jr. DAMS 42m02.446s
2 Pierre Gasly Arden Motorsport 12.637s
3 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 19.676s
4 Roberto Merhi Zeta Corse 22.253s
5 Jazeman Jaafar ISR 23.671s
6 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 24.653s
7 Sergey Sirotkin Fortec Motorsports 33.820s
8 Will Stevens Strakka Racing 39.277s
9 Nicholas Latifi Tech 1 Racing 41.967s
10 William Buller Arden Motorsport 42.392s
11 Beitske Visser AVF 44.825s
12 Esteban Ocon Comtec Racing 46.242s
13 Marlon Stockinger Lotus 54.613s
14 Meindert van Buuren Pons Racing 58.022s
15 Oscar Tunjo Pons Racing 58.331s
16 Luca Ghiotto International Draco Racing 58.574s
17 Matias Laine Strakka Racing 58.976s
18 Cameron Twynham Comtec Racing 1m03.271s
19 Zoel Amberg AVF 1 Lap
20 Pietro Fantin International Draco Racing 1 Lap
- Marco Sorensen Tech 1 Racing Retirement
- Norman Nato DAMS Retirement


Pos Driver Points
1 Carlos Sainz Jr. 227
2 Roberto Merhi 183
3 Pierre Gasly 172
4 Oliver Rowland 138
5 Sergey Sirotkin 107
6 Will Stevens 97
7 Norman Nato 84
8 Jazeman Jaafar 73
9 Marlon Stockinger 71
10 Matthieu Vaxiviere 67


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