Dean Stoneman lost ground to Jolyon Palmer yesterday, as his rival won the first FIA Formula Two race of the weekend at Portimao, Portugal, but the Briton made up some of that with a comfortable win in today's race. Dean Stoneman. Photo...
Dean Stoneman lost ground to Jolyon Palmer yesterday, as his rival won the first FIA Formula Two race of the weekend at Portimao, Portugal, but the Briton made up some of that with a comfortable win in today's race.
Stoneman, starting from second on the grid -- after Philipp Eng's grid position penalty -- next to Palmer's pole position, got a strong start and beat his championship rival to the first corner, and never looked back. Without a safety car period to bunch up the field, Stoneman pulled away inexorably, and his margin of victory was 4.098 seconds.
Palmer didn't have as easy time of it, though, as he had to hold off the attentions of third-place starter Nicola de Marco, who pursued him until the final time the two crossed the finish line, 0.485 seconds apart.
de Marco, in turn, was harassed by Zolder race winner Benjamin Bailly, and Bailly was just 0.381 seconds behind at the chequered flag, and less than a second adrift of Palmer as well.
Mihai Marinescu moved up from his ninth starting position to take a strong but lonely fifth place, albeith 15 seconds off Stoneman's race pace. Sixth-place finisher Will Bratt was less than half a second behind Marinescu.
Sergei Afanasiev and Ricardo Teixeira had fought for that fifth position for much of the race, but the duo tangled on the penultimate lap and ended up in the gravel on the penultimate lap.
Eng had lost his front-row starting position after the race stewards determined that his first-race clash with Stoneman was "avoidable contact": he lost his sixth-place finish in yesterday's race as well as receiving a 10-place grid penalty for today's second race.
Starting 12th, he worked hard and was able to take a seventh place at the end of the day, salvaging some points after yet another lost opportunity for victory.
Ivan Samarin was eighth, ahead of Natalia Kowalska, who scored points in both the weekend's races. Benjamin Lariche took the final point in tenth place.
Palmer's points lead is now down to 26 points, 182 to 156 over Stoneman. Eng is yet further back: at 86 points, he is nearly 100 points behind Palmer and face a huge uphill struggle if he is to challenge for the title in the second half of the season. It appears that the title fight is Palmer's and Stoneman's to resolve as the series begins hte second half of the 2010 season.