Good day's work for Epsilon Euskadi
Just a few hours after Robert Kubica claimed the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 title, the Epsilon Euskadi team saw two of its drivers make it onto the podium in the second race. Felix Porteiro won for the second time this season, in front of Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA) and Kubica. The Basque country organisation also got their hands on the Team championship. The Portuguese round of the World Series by Renault attracted more than 70,000 spectators over the weekend.
The first piece of drama happened at the start of the warm-up lap, when Adrian Valles was left stranded on the grid, due to electrical failure. The Spanish driver managed to get away, however, and then went in search of the point for the fastest race lap.
Felix Porteiro leapt off from pole position and nudged Andreas Zuber into the pit wall. The incident resulted in a warning being issued to the Spaniard, who moved in front ahead of the Austrian. Several cars end up running through the gravel trap on the first corner. Tristan Gommendy (KTR), one of those caught out, punctured and had to head into the pits.
Thanks to the unhelpful attentions of Fernando Rees (Interwetten.com), Colin Fleming (Jenzer Motorsport) got stuck in the gravel. The Brazilian picked up a drive-through penalty for his trouble and the incident led to the safety car being brought out with three laps gone. At this stage of the race, Felix Porteiro led from Andreas Zuber, Markus Winkelhock, Robert Kubica, Will Power, Fabio Carbone, Jaap Van Lagen, Damien Pasini, Christian Montanari and Celso Miguez.
The race resumed after two laps with the safety car. Will Power and Christian Montanari were the first to duck into the pits for their mandatory stop. The leaders seemed intent on delaying their tyre changes for as long as possible. Markus Winkelhock stopped just after the halfway stage, leaving Porteiro, Zuber and Kubica on their own at the front. Kubica came in a lap later and came back out onto the track in front Winkelhock. Zuber and then Porteiro came in for their stops on the 17th and 18th laps, respectively. Felix Porteiroâ^À^Øs gamble paid off, as he remained in front of Markus Winkelhock, who had managed to overtake Robert Kubica!
Further back the race order was upset with Jaap Van Lagen lying in 4th place ahead of Christian Montanari and Milos Pavlovic, who had all gone past Zuber! The winner of the â^À^Øsprint' race was the man to lose most from the series of pit stops. Fabio Carbone, Matteo Meneghello and Patrick Pilet rounded off the provisional top 10, but they would still have to contend with the attentions of Davide Rigon (Victory Engineering) and Simon Pagenaud. Now in full flow, Patrick Pilet got the better of the two Eurointernational drivers in turn, first Meneghello and then Carbone. These two then fought for supremacy, but Meneghello made a mistake and went off, handing a point to Rigon.
Felix Porteiro: "The car was skidding all over at the start but Andreas was still behind me, so there was no problem. Then he made several attempts to get past but I held onto the lead. This race was perfect, particularly after the pit stops when no-one could attack me."
Markus Winkelhock: "I had a good start but there were three cars in front of me and I just couldn't overtake. We lost a bit of time during my pit stop but I caught up the time on Robert. He was understeering a lot on the Parabolica and I knew that was where I could get past him."
Robert Kubica: "I had a good start but I was poorly positioned on the outside of the corner. The car's handling gradually got worse and worse as the race went on and I had to be cautious to make sure that we won the team championship."