Jean-Eric Vergne achieved a stylish victory in Spa-Francorchamps' second Formula Renault 3.5 race
The Frenchman led home the second Carlin one-two of the weekend, but unlike Saturday's opening race, Vergne and team-mate Robert Wickens raced wheel-to-wheel. Indeed, there were several anxious faces on the Carlin pitwall when Vergne executed a committed pass for the lead on Wickens at Les Combes on lap 17.
Starting from third, Wickens had passed front row man Daniel Zampieri into the La Source hairpin away from the line, before harrying poleman Vergne over the early laps.
Unable to find an opening, Wickens opted to make an early mandatory tyre change on lap six and swiftly made his fresh rears tyres count. Vergne emerged from his own, 6.4-second, stop a lap later in time to see the Marussia-liveried car flash past on the exit of La Source.
"I thought, 'Oh no, it's going to be like yesterday. Another boring race behind Robert where I can't overtake,'" said Vergne. "Then I started to push and thought I had a chance."
Vergne claimed the lead around the outside at Les Combes, leaving Wickens to lock up both front wheels to ensure contact was avoided. Despite bad vibrations from his flat-spotted tyres, Wickens held off an inspired Chris van der Drift to take second by 0.7s.
Van der Drift's progress was aided by a 4.9s pitstop from his Mofaz crew, but the Kiwi still produced a commendable effort considering the last minute nature of his deal had forced him to miss the pre-season tests.
Zampieri led briefly in the pitstop phase, but the BVM Target racer arguably stayed out for too long before pitting. The Italian effectively dropped from third to sixth, and was forced to produce some on-track overtaking to recover lost ground. On lap 19, Zampieri took fifth from P1 Motorsport's Walter Grubmuller at Les Combes, and wrestled fourth from Albert Costa at the same spot on the last lap.
Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay had a commendable drive from 25th to 15th in difficult circumstances. Making his maiden appearance in the series with Pons, the Frenchman was neither familiar with Spa before, nor had he raced a single-seater with carbon brakes before. Team-mate Oliver Webb raced with an injured hand, a legacy of a collision with Sten Pentus in race one.
Draco's Stephane Richelmi retired following an accident with Charouz-Gravity's Jan Charouz on the run down to La Source. The latter was able to continue.
Brazilian Cesar Ramos was affected with similar symptoms to the bug that ruled out his compatriot Andre Negrao from taking part in race one. Fortec's Ramos was knocked into a spin at La Source on lap one and later retired after contact with BVM Target's Sergio Canamasas.
Results - 25 laps:Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 46m56.662s 2. Robert Wickens Carlin + 1.468s 3. Chris van der Drift Mofaz + 2.173s 4. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 7.153s 5. Albert Costa EPIC + 8.434s 6. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 8.784s 7. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 9.183s 8. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 9.419s 9. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 11.808s 10. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 12.602s 11. Andre Negrao Draco + 17.960s 12. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 26.870s 13. Daniil Move P1 + 30.199s 14. Sten Pentus EPIC + 31.071s 15. Jean-Karl Vernay Pons + 38.251s 16. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 42.377s 17. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 42.730s 18. Oliver Webb Pons + 46.859s 19. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP + 48.245s 20. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 56.088s Retirements: Stephane Richelmi Draco 17 laps Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 14 laps Cesar Ramos Fortec 14 laps Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 10 laps Daniel de Jong Comtec 9 laps Kevin Korjus Tech 1 0 laps
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