Day of reckoning
Going into the final round of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 at the Barcelona circuit, there are just nine points separating the top four drivers: Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com), Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA), Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) and Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport). But only one of them can be crowned champion: may the best man win!
Six months and seventeen races after the first meeting at Zolder, the outcome of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 will finally be decided in Barcelona on October 28 and 29. Tension will be running high, as a whole host of scenarios are still possible. With four potential champions, the threats will come from all sides, and even from drivers who are not in the running for the title, as every point will be priceless in the final reckoning.
For the moment, Andy Soucek has the advantage. But the Spaniard hasn't made the podium since the Nurburgring, and his sole victory was recorded in Istanbul in the first third of the season. Since September, Andy has only managed to finish in the minor places. So a special effort will be required from the Interwetten.com driver, who will team up with Franck Perera for the final meeting of the season. The former World Karting Champion has been brought in to replace Eric Salignon in order to help secure the Team title for the Austrian outfit, its lead over Draco Multiracing USA in the Team standings having been narrowed to just seven points.
The top priority for the Italian team will be to secure the title for Pastor Maldonado. With five pole positions, four wins and five fastest race laps, the Venezuelan has been the season's most explosive driver. But his six DNFs have cost him dear! If he can handle the pressure, Pastor could prove unstoppable. He will also have the advantage of being teamed with Milos Pavlovic, who is enjoying a superb end to the season with Draco.
Having won three of the last four races, Alx Danielsson has come from nowhere to force his way into the reckoning late in the season. Dogged by misfortune until the Nurburgring, the diminutive Swede has arguably been the competition's top performer since September. He and his team-mates at Comtec Racing will have nothing to fear as they enter the home straight.
The fourth and final title contender is Borja Garcia. Astonishingly, the Spaniard has still not won a race this season. He would obviously dearly love to come out on top on his home turf and, if he performs well in Barcelona, this consistent podium finisher could well pip his rivals at the post.
Mathematically speaking, Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering) is not totally out of the running. The Portuguese driver is 18 points adrift of Soucek, but we shouldn't rule him out. The World Series has already provided a number of surprises this season; and there may just be time for one more.
The battle for sixth place will be just as exciting, with just a few points separating Sean McIntosh (KTR), Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi), Milos Pavlovic, Ben Hanley (Cram Competition) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport).
Among the other contenders vying for victory, Tristan Gommendy (Pons Racing), Adrian Zaugg (Carlin Motorsport) and Christian Montanari (Prema Power Team) are three to watch.
Unfortunately, it is possible that the champion may not be crowned on Sunday evening, as several appeals are still being considered by the RACB, the CSAI and the FIA.