Daniel Ricciardo dominated the penultimate race of the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Barcelona. The Australian's fourth victory of the season draws him level on points with Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin at the head of the championship.
From the outside of the front row, Aleshin held his position to finish second, albeit some 26 seconds adrift of Ricciardo. The impressive margin of victory is only mildly misrepresentative, as the Russian lost 10 seconds with a late race spin at Turn 1.
"When I saw on my pit board that I was pulling away at a second a lap I was a bit surprised," said a delighted Ricciardo. "The car felt quite good, but it has done so before this season and the others have been just as competitive. It did put a smile on my face, but I had to try and stay composed. I think both Mikhail and I have done a good job under pressure today, it's going to make things pretty interesting for tomorrow."
The drivers' title will be disputed between just these two in Sunday's decider. The third contender entering the meeting, ISR's Esteban Guerrieri, is now out of contention after struggling for grip and finishing a distant fourth.
The Argentinean was demoted from a podium position by British Formula 3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne, who executed a fine out-braking manoeuvre into the SEAT corner on lap 12.
Having missed yesterday's free practice sessions owing to clashing simulator duties for the Red Bull Formula 1 team, Vergne's drive from seventh on the grid was a rare highlight in a processional race at the front of the field. The efforts of Ricciardo and Vergne have sealed the teams' championship for Tech 1 Racing.
Epsilon Euskadi's Albert Costa had threatened to follow Vergne past Guerrieri, but the local Catalan driver was preoccupied in the closing stages defending from a feisty Nathanael Berthon.
Less than 0.3s separated the pair at the chequered flag, Berthon producing a determined drive after sustaining a four-place grid drop, from fourth to eighth, for a misdemeanour made at the previous round.
Fifth qualifier, P1 Motorsport's Jan Charouz retired after running wide at Turn 1 on the opening lap. There was confusion as the Czech rejoined the track, Junior Lotus Racing's Nelson Panciatici being delayed after running through the gravel trap on the exit of Elf.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 45m45.264s 2. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin + 26.221s 3. Jean-Eric Vergne Tech 1 + 35.257s 4. Esteban Guerrieri ISR + 50.492s 5. Albert Costa Epsilon Euskadi + 1m03.268s 6. Nathanael Berthon Draco + 1m03.555s 7. Federico Leo Pons + 1m15.484s 8. Filip Salaquarda ISR + 1m16.748s 9. Greg Mansell Comtec + 1m17.377s 10. Stefano Coletti Comtec + 1m23.607s 11. Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon Euskadi + 1m31.823s 12. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin + 1m32.274s 13. Sten Pentus Fortec + 1m32.915s 14. Jon Lancaster Fortec + 2m03.010s 15. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 2m10.599s 16. Nelson Panciatici Junior Lotus + 1 lap 17. Sergio Canamasas FHV Interwetten + 1 lap 18. Dean Stoneman Junior Lotus + 1 lap + 1 lap Retirements Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 23 laps Salvador Duran FHV Interwetten 19 laps Daniel Zampieri Pons 7 laps Julian Leal Draco 4 laps Jan Charouz P1 1 lap Victor Garcia KMP 1 lap
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