Tactics pay dividends for Winkelhock
In front of 52,000 fans, Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA) drove an excellent tactical race to take his second victory of the season. The German came home ahead of Adrian Valles (Pons Racing) and the impressive Damien Pasini (Cram Compotition).
After having initially qualified to start from row 8, Robert Kubica was then relegated to the back of the grid after his front roll bar was revealed to be non-compliant in post-qualifying scrutineering.
Jaap Van Lagen (KTR) was quickest off the grid and got one up one on the poleman Eric Salignon (Cram Compoititon). In an attempt to get back, Salignon tried to cut across the grass but ended up broadsiding Van Lagen and nearly dragged Tristan Gommendy (KTR) down with them. Ryan Sharp (Jenzer Motorsport) was next to follow them into the gravel trap...
The safety car had to be called out immediately. And who came out on top? None other than Pastor Maldonado, who'd made the most of his chances after starting from the fourth row! The Venezuelan found himself first ahead of Adrian Valles (Pons Racing), Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA), Tristan Gommendy and Danilo Dirani (Victory Engineering).
Felix Porteiro (Epsilon Euskadi) and Daniel La Rosa (Interwetten.com) were forced to come into the pits and abandon. The Spanish driver had been involved in a collision with another car, while the German had suffered an engine failure.
Then, in an unbelievable turn of events, Maldonado span after hitting a patch of oil from La Rosa's car. All this while the safety car was still out on track! The race resumed after six laps. Gommendy then headed straight into the pits to make his stop. Valles followed one lap later.
Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA) then took over at the front of the race ahead of Andreas Zuber (Carlin Motorsport), who had passed Will Power and Danilo Dirani in quick succession. These two were both gambling on a late stop strategy with all the other favourites already having pitted.
Zuber came in on lap 12. On exiting the pit lane, the Austrian ran into Power spelling the end for both Carlin Motorsport cars! Winkelhock held onto the lead for one more lap before handing over control to Damien Pasini (Cram Compotition). The Frenchman made his stop on lap 17, as did Alx Danielsson. The gamble paid off: he came back out ahead of Markus Winkelhock and Adrian Valles!
With the three leaders all grouped within the space of two seconds, there was no further change in the race order. That is until the final bend when Valles came into contact with Pasini and took second as a result!
One driver who will definitely be happy with his performance is Simon Pagenaud who got his best result of the season finishing in fifth. Robert Kubica (6th) will also be happy to take some precious championship points, and Pastor Maldonado scored his first points of the season with a finish in 7th. Fabio Carbone (8th) confirms that he has a promising future in the category.
Markus Winkelhock: "The weekend started well on Friday, but I was unhappy with my qualifying position, starting from the 5th row. As a result, victory looked beyond my grasp. But then things just came together for me... "
Adrian Valles: "We had a good strategy but I lost time on my pit-stop. I was going well behind Markus but Damien came out of the pits and got between us. I was just that little bit faster and I knew I could get past him in the slower bends. But I'm sorry that we came into contact."
Damien Pasini: "It was my first podium finish of the season. It's a real pleasure for me because I've been having gearbox trouble all weekend, which is why I had to abandon in race one. Under normal conditions, I know I'm capable of a top 5 finish."