Molina does it in style
Miguel Molina (Pons Racing) has taken his chance! The Catalan driver led from the very first bend, and was unquestionably the fastest man on show here at Estoril today. Julien Jousse (Tech 1 Racing) finished second -- his third podium finish in as many meetings -- while Alvaro Barba (Draco Racing) came in third. Ben Hanley (Prema Powerteam) did not have a good time of things, going into a roll early on. Alvaro Parente (Tech 1 Racing), meanwhile, added a few points to his tally with a sixth-place finish.
Miguel Molina surprised Julien Jousse at the start and immediately took the lead. Hanley, too, tried to squeeze past the Frenchman, but he collided with Parente and was sent into a roll just a few metres into the race!
The safety car was not brought out, however, and Miguel Molina finished the first lap in front, followed by Julien Jousse, Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport), Bertrand Baguette (KTR), Filipe Albuqerque (Epsilon Euskadi), Giedo van der Garde (Victory Engineering), Alvaro Barba, Alvaro Parente, Milos Pavlovic (Draco Racing) and Fairuz Fauzy (Cram Competition).
There was no change in the top ten during the first five laps. When the authorized period for the mandatory tyre change began, Molina boasted a 2.7 second advantage over Jousse, with Aleshin and Baguette a little further back. Only Clivio Piccione (RC Motorsport) opted to stop off at the pits at this early stage.
By the end of lap 7, Molina had stretched his lead to four seconds. Barba, Parente and Moreau all made their pit stop at this juncture. Bertrand Baguette was the next to come in, at the end of lap 11. A mechanical problem forced the Belgian driver to retire shortly afterwards. Miguel Molina followed him into the pits one lap later, allowing Julien Jousse to take the lead. After just 5.2 seconds in the pits, the Catalan rejoined the race in seventh place, 28 seconds behind Jousse.
Jousse stopped after lap 14. Aleshin and Albuquerque followed suit one lap later, handing the lead, for one lap only, to Giedo van der Garde. When the Dutchman took his turn to change his tyres, Miguel Molina once again found himself at the front of the field, ahead of Aleshin, Barba, Van der Garde, Albuquerque, Parente, Walker, Fauzy and Pavlovic. There were ten laps remaining at this stage.
On lap 23, Mikhail Aleshin was forced to retire for the fifth time this season, allowing Barba to move up into third position, and Monaco's Clivio Piccione to sneak into the points. Piccione will therefore start from pole position tomorrow.
Miguel Molina: <>
Julien Jousse: <>
Alvaro Barba: <>