Bertrand Baguette claimed his second victory of the weekend at Le Mans today, to eke out a 19 point Formula Renault 3.5 Series lead with just three rounds remaining.
Spaniard Miguel Molina climbed from 10th on the grid to finish second, his best result of the season. The Ultimate Motorsport driver set the fastest lap in his pursuit of Baguette, and closed to within 1.1 seconds of the Draco man's gearbox at the chequered flag.
After being passed by Molina in the pitstops, British Formula 3 champion Jaime Alguersuari picked up third place, and his first podium of the season.
"I made a fantastic start to pass four cars, so that was a large part of the job done," said Baguette. "There is a special reaction machine that I have been working on with my trainer, Dr Ceccarelli, so maybe it has been working.
"I also have to thank my team for their efforts in the pits; it was a really good operation."
British drivers occupied the first three positions on the grid, but all had difficulty converting their qualifying form into corresponding results.
Pole-man Jon Lancaster encountered suspected clutch or gearbox problems away from the line and was swamped into the first corner by James Walker, a fast starting Baguette (up from sixth) and Charles Pic.
Race one podium finisher Oliver Turvey ran fourth in the early laps, but had a troublesome rear wheel during his mandatory pitstop on lap six. Turvey was stationary for 14s, ruling the Englishman out of contention.
Walker relinquished the lead on the next tour, but he too had a far from routine tyre change. The Jersey driver, in effect, lost four positions by the time the pit window had closed on lap 19. Under intense pressure from Fairuz Fauzy, Walker spun out of fifth place at the Dunlop Chicane with just three laps remaining.
Arguably the fastest man on raw pace over the weekend, Lancaster was further delayed by his transmission problems during his pitstop, where a 4.9s change of front tyres preceded a stuttering getaway.
Lancaster had also lost the left part of his front wing tagging Pic at La Chapelle, while Pic retired after sustaining a right rear puncture. Surprisingly, Lancaster was only slowed when third and fourth gear started jumping out over the closing laps, and finished a fighting fifth.
"I think Pic couldn't swallow that I was going to pass him, just like yesterday," said a frustrated Lancaster. "He just drifted across on me. Getting the pole was great, and we've shown again that there's nothing wrong with our pace, but I want the prizes."
Baguette's closest title rival, Marcos Martinez, retired on the first lap after an incident involving Greg Mansell.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Bertrand Baguette Draco 46m08.636s 2. Miguel Molina Ultimate + 1.148s 3. Jaime Alguersuari Carlin + 3.758s 4. Fairuz Fauzy Fortec + 14.919s 5. Jon Lancaster Comtec + 16.286s 6. Edoardo Mortara Tech 1 + 16.535s 7. Marco Barba Draco + 16.799s 8. Pasquale Di Sabatino RC + 17.165s 9. James Walker P1 + 20.419s 10. Oliver Turvey Carlin + 22.261s 11. Chris van der Drift Epsilon Euskadi + 27.473s 12. Guillaume Moreau SG + 32.130s 13. Sten Pentus Fortec + 32.432s 14. Mihai Marinescu Interwetten + 50.029s 15. Adrian Zaugg Interwetten + 51.847s 16. Filip Salaquarda Prema + 52.825s 17. Daniel Clos Epsilon Euskadi +1m04.426s 18. Cristiano Morgado Comtec + 1 lap 19. Daniil Move P1 + 3 laps 20. Julian Leal Prema + 3 laps Retirements: Anton Nebylitskiy SG 19 laps Federico Leo Pons 19 laps Charles Pic Tech 1 16 laps Greg Mansell Ultimate 1 laps Marcos Martinez Pons 1 laps