Jinxed trio taste success at last!
So far this season, success had eluded Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing), Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) and Bertrand Baguette (KTR), despite their enormous potential. But in the first race at Donington Park, the trio put their bad luck behind them, finishing first, second and third respectively and picking up their first podium finishes of the 2007 season!
Alvaro Parente got off to a good start and held off Fairuz Fauzy on the brakes into the first corner. Everyone made it through the first bend without incident, but some fared less well at the second: Charlie Kimball, Clivio Piccione and Michael Herck collided and ended up in the gravel trap. The safety car was brought out at the end of the first lap. The chasing pack behind Parente comprised Fauzy Jousse, Barba, Baguette, Bonanomi, Ammermuller, Molina, Aleshin and NuÃ±ez.
Racing resumed at the end of lap 6. Parente managed to preserve his lead and even opened up something of a gap over Fauzy. Back in third place, Julien Jousse was immediately under pressure from Alvaro Barba. Filipe Albuquerque was the first of the favourites to make a pit stop, while Xavier Maasen was forced to retire after crashing off.
Having started from 26th position, Ben Hanley opted to take his pit stop early, after 8 laps. Giedo van der Garde and Davide Valsecchi followed suit. Fauzy changed his tyres one lap later. The two Tech 1 Racing drivers then found themselves in the lead, with Parente 5.3 seconds ahead of Jousse, who was struggling to hold off Barba. Barba eventually moved into second when the Frenchman made his pit stop at the end of lap 10.
Meanwhile, Parente pushed hard. He was the quickest of the Portuguese drivers. Baguette was next to go in for tyres. Parente came in on lap 12, and left the pits 6.2 seconds later, ahead of Jousse, Fauzy and Baguette. With no-one in front of him now, Alvaro Barba attacked and even managed to set a new lap record. The Spaniard was still only 20 seconds ahead of Parente, however - not enough to guarantee victory without taking a risk or two. He finally came into the pits after lap 15, between Parente and Jousse. For once, it was Barba who came out on top: Parente made a mistake that sent him into the gravel and allowed Barba, Jousse, Fauzy and Baguette to overtake him.
So, with 14 laps to go, Barba led, 0.6 of a second ahead of Jousse. Some way further back, Fauzy was under pressure from Baguette and Parente. The Belgian did his best to get past, but his Malaysian rival managed to hold him off. Finally, though, Fauzy cracked and crashed off in the same place as Maasen.
The safety car was brought out again at the end of lap 21. Once Fauzy and Maasen's cars had been cleared, the race got back underway, with just three laps remaining. Jousse kept up the pressure on Barba, but the Spaniard managed to hold him off till the finish! Behind Baguette and Parente, Buurman finished a creditable fifth, ahead of Ammermuller, Bonanomi, Moreau, Aleshin and Walker, who will start in pole position tomorrow!
Alvaro Barba: "The race was difficult after a poor start. The team made a fantastic job of the pit stop and I left the pits in second place. I would have been happy with that, but Alvaro Parente made a mistake. I had a lot of over-steer at the end."
Julien Jousse: "I'd never driven at this track before this weekend, so it's fantastic to get my first podium finish here. The car was really fast but I just couldn't get past Alvaro. Thanks to all the team for this result."
Bertrand Baguette: "I really like this circuit and I think it is lucky for me. It's the third time this season I've started from fifth on the grid, but now I've finally managed to make it onto the podium! The start was hard work -- I find it difficult to get my tyres warmed up."