Miguel Molina scored his second Formula Renault 3.5 victory of the season at Estoril as Giedo van der Garde finally clinched the series title
The Dutchman finally sealed the deal, having dominated the standings since a superlative double victory in round one at Monza.
The only man who could have denied van der Garde from taking the crown this weekend was Ultimate-Signature's Fabio Carbone, but the Brazilian made a slow getaway from fifth on the grid and was collected by Molina's teammate Alvaro Barba on the startline.
Molina's success was a repeat of his 2007 victory at Estoril, but the Spaniard was made to work much harder on this occasion through a stiff challenge mounted by Charles Pic.
The Frenchman had to settle for second after leading the early laps, but with Tech 1 Racing teammate Julien Jousse securing the final podium position, his French squad have moved into the lead of the teams' standings.
Charles Pic made the perfect start from third on the grid, and passed Molina around the outside into turn one. The 18 year-old's chance of adding to his previous wins at Monaco and Le Mans were compromised by an early pit call on lap eight.
Pic exited the pits behind a late-stopping Pippa Mann, by coincidence the driver that the Frenchman punted off in Saturday's race one. There was no sign of Mann holding any grudges, but while bottled up Pic lost ground to Molina who was running in clear air out at the front.
Molina pitted as late as possible on lap 16, and resumed without losing the lead. "The team made a good strategy, so I have to thank them for doing such a great job," said Molina. "It is my second consecutive win here and the track is now very special to me."
Marco Bonanomi ran third in the early laps, but could not live with the pace of either Pic or Molina. The Italian's speed may have influenced Jousse in coming in from fourth for an early pitstop on lap six.
Bonanomi was not given any respite as Bertrand Baguette and Robert Wickens followed closely, and just two seconds covered the trio on lap eight.
Bonanomi would eventually lose position to both Jousse and Baguette in the pitstops, and settle for fifth at the flag in the sole Comtec car. Baguette was aided by a swift 5.8 second stop for new front tyres by his Draco crew.
Van der Garde finished eighth, struggling slightly with his setup on his way to clinching the Formula Renault 3.5 title. The Dutchman was not completely on cruise control though, and made a brave pass on Marcos Martinez on lap three.
"This wasn't the best weekend," said van der Garde. "It was a big shame that P1 Motorsport team boss and engineer Roly Vincini wasn't here to see this, but he needed to stay at home to be with his family.
"You could see how much we missed him here. The team told me on the radio that Carbone was in the pits, so in the last six or seven laps I decided not to fight with Martinez. I felt, 'well I am the champion now so I am happy to let these guys take some points.'
"The team have worked so hard all through the year. We were the best prepared at the start of the year and made a really big effort in the summer break. I've spoken to some F1 teams already, but I think the next step is going to be GP2."
Salvador Duran's outside hopes of fighting for the runner-up position faded after Estoril. The Mexican failed to score any points and was extremely fortunate to emerge from somersaulting through an advertising hoarding and clearing the Armco at turn one, having vaulted over the rear of Fairuz Fauzy.
The focus for the final round in Barcelona will now be on the battle for second between Carbone and Jousse. With Carbone's retirement, the pair is separated by just two points.
Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Miguel Molina Prema Powerteam 40:41.502 2. Charles Pic Tech 1 Racing + 3.169 3. Julien Jousse Tech 1 Racing + 4.483 4. B.Baguette International Draco + 7.564 5. Marco Bonanomi Comtec + 8.813 6. E.Guerrieri Ultimate Signature + 10.761 7. Marcos Martinez Pons Racing + 11.998 8. G.van der Garde P1 Motorsport + 16.495 9. F.Albuquerque Epsilon Euskadi + 18.783 10. Marco Barba International Draco + 19.176 11. Duncan Tappy RC Motorsport + 29.183 12. Robert Wickens Carlin Motorsport + 30.560 13. Aleix Alcaraz Pons Racing + 37.989 14. James Walker Fortec Motorsport + 38.769 15. Pippa Mann P1 Motorsport + 51.602 16. A.Marsoin Epsilon Euskadi + 53.163 17. C.Cantelli Jr. RC Motorsport + 58.013 18. Siso Cunill KTR +1:03.730 19. Sergei Afanasiev KTR +1:09.210 20. Fairuz Fauzy Fortec Motorsport + 1 lap 21. Pablo Sanchez Interwetten.com + 1 lap 22. Salvador Duran Interwetten.com + 2 laps 23. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin Motorsport + 3 laps Not Classified: Driver Team Laps Fabio Carbone Ultimate Signature 1 Alvaro Barba Prema Powerteam 0 Fastest lap: Pic, 1:28.016 on lap 5
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