Hanley gains ground after win On a rainy day at Magny-Cours, Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) was utterly dominant as he claimed his first race win of the season. He was joined on the podium by Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) and Clivio Piccione...
Hanley gains ground after win
On a rainy day at Magny-Cours, Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) was utterly dominant as he claimed his first race win of the season. He was joined on the podium by Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) and Clivio Piccione (RC Motorsport), whose head-to-head was thrilling to behold. In the overall standings, the RDD driver is now just eight points adrift of Alvaro Parente, who finished in sixth place today.
The track was soaked when the cars lined up on the starting grid. Unlike Marco Bonanomi, Clivio Piccione got off to a good start, with Ben Hanley right on his tail. The man from Monaco held off his rival as they negotiated the Adelaide hairpin turn. Esteban Guerrieri (Fortec Motorsport) was the first driver to retire from the race, after colliding with Filipe Albuquerque (Epsilon Euskadi).
At the end of the first lap, Piccione led, followed by Hanley, Bonanomi, Valsecchi, Van der Garde, Parente, Fauzy, Pavlovic, Jousse and Iaconelli. Helped by the poor visibility, the two leaders quickly opened up a gap between themselves and the rest of the field. Van der Garde took fourth place from Valsecchi, but then made a mistake that saw him fall back to sixth behind Parente.
Van der Garde was then overtaken by Pavlovic on the fourth lap. Bertrand Baguette (KTR), who had been in the top ten, ran off into the gravel and dropped back several places.
Two errors from Clivio Piccione allowed Hanley to make up some ground and then pass him on lap 8. Among the contenders for victory, Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing) was the first to make his mandatory pit stop.
With a clear track in front of him, Hanley notched up successive best lap times, lapping two seconds faster than his rivals. Carlos Iaconelli (Pons Racing) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) stopped by the pits, while Marco Bonanomi was forced to retire after a collision. Ben Hanley opted to make his pit stop at the beginning of lap 12. Piccione followed suit on the next lap, while Aleshin nearly found himself in big trouble after a 360 spin. Salvador Duran wasn't so lucky: the Mexican driver was run into by Charlie Kimball.
Davide Valsecchi took the lead at the end of lap 13, but the Italian driver had yet to stop. Hanley had a bit of a fright, but only lost a few seconds. Thanks to his teammate's strategy, Valsecchi was just able to sneak back into second place when he left the pits. Piccione was still lying in third, ahead of Pavlovic, Van der Garde, Parente, Iaconelli, Molina, Jousse and Aleshin. Aleshin was eventually forced to abandon due to a technical problem, allowing Guillaume Moreau to move up into tenth position.
Piccione's efforts to stay in touch with Valsecchi were quite something! The battle between the two men continued as Hanley opened up a sizeable lead of some 25 seconds. Piccione's umpteenth attack sent him into a 360 spin, affording Valsecchi a few seconds of breathing space. But Clivio was still way ahead of Pavlovic in third. Ninth- and tenth-placed finishers Julien Jousse and Guillaume Moreau will line up on an all-French front row tomorrow afternoon!
Ben Hanley: "The team did a brilliant job adapting the setup to the track conditions. I got off to a good start and I stayed focused so as not to make any mistakes. I took it steady on the last few laps."
Davide Valsecchi: "It wasn't an easy race - I started from the third row. But I stayed calm and the team made a good job of the pit-stop. We probably weren't fast enough to finish on the podium, but we made up for it in the pits."
Clivio Piccione: "After a good start I was hampered by brake problems. I made a few mistakes, but a top-three finish is a pleasing result after a tricky race."