Molina Scores More Points as Mansell Battles Hard
Greg Mansell (#3):
Start Position: 13th Race Position: 15th
Miguel Molina (#4):
Start position: 7th Race Position: 7th
Ultimate Motorsport's Hungarian weekend got off to a steady start in race 1 with Miguel Molina starting where he finished on the difficult to overtake Hungaroring track, while his teammate Greg Mansell proved that overtaking was possible and proved the point on several occasions during the 28 lap race.
Both of the Ultimate drivers were placed in the same qualifying group with Molina posting the third fastest time in Group A to move into the Superpole session. Mansell had his best qualifying performance of the season so far but just missed out on qualifying for his first Superpole session by one place after setting the 7th fastest lap of the session.
In Superpole Miguel Molina put in an impressive lap of 1m31.655s, nearly two seconds under the current lap record, but was beaten to the top spot by championship leader Marco Martinez and he will take his place on the front row of the grid for Round 7 on Sunday.
With the reverse grid, Miguel Molina lined up for the first race of the weekend in 7th place, with Greg Mansell the first of the non Superpole drivers in 13th. A reasonable start by Molina saw the Spaniard exit the first corner in the same place he started, expertly managing to avoid the spinning Brendon Hartley. Mansell's start wasn't too bad either but the car bogged down as he shifted through the gears and the drivers behind the Briton got a better run into T1. Mansell decided to back off rather than risk an accident and he finished the opening lap in 17th. The scene was now set for some typical Mansell overtaking as he set about gaining lost ground.
At the front pole position holder Fairuz Fauzy was holding the lead with six cars following closely behind, including Miguel Molina in 7th. The Spaniard was able to keep pace with the lead group while opening a slight gap to 8th placed Adrian Zaugg. However on the tight and twisty circuit the only way the order was going to change was if one of the drivers made a mistake and the the status quo remained for lap after lap.
Meanwhile Greg Mansell was on a mission to regain lost places, catching and passing John Martin on lap 6 and then overtaking Adrian Valles with a dive down the inside at Turn 1 on lap 9 to move into 15th place. Before the end of the lap Mansell had closed right up behind his next target Pasquale Di Sabatino. He performed an identical move to the one he overtook Valles to move ahead of Di Sabatino at the first corner on lap 12.
Miguel Molina was still in touch with the leading group but a mistake by Zaugg allowed Monaco race winner Oliver Turvey to move in 8th place and he soon closed the gap to Molina. However Molina was able to keep the Carlin Motorsport Dallara at bay.
Greg Mansell moved up another place on lap 15, moving ahead of Daniil Move just before the safety car was deployed on lap 16 to recover the beached car of Filip Salaquarda. The field circulated behind the Renault Megane for two laps before the race went green again.
The two Ultimate drivers held their relative position at the restart, with Molina easily soaking up the pressure applied by Turvey. Mansell was now on the rear wing of Edoardo Mortara and was determined to move ahead of the Italian for 12th place to give himself a shot at a championship point as the race entered the last ten minutes.
On lap 25 Mansell took a chance at the first corner and dived down the inside of Motara's Dallara, but the British driver had left his braking until the last moment and he washed wide on the exit allowing the Italian to regain the place, with Mansell having to defend his position from Daniil Move. Mansell's race pace was such that he quickly moved ahead of the Russian and was back on Motara's rear wing by the end of the lap. On the final lap Mansell saw another chance on the last corner and put his car alongside the Italian's but Motara closed the door and the cars clashed. Mansell lost two hard won places with Motara falling further back with damage to the cars sidepod.
At the front Fairuz Fauzy took the chequered flag with Miguel Molina keeping Oliver Turvey behind him to secure 7th place, which moved him back ahead of the British driver in the driver's championship.
Round 7 of the 2009 World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 will take place on Sunday 14 June, with Miguel Molina starting from P2.
Miguel Molina: "Qualifying was good after we qualified P2; the car was improving all the time we were on the track. The car was much better in qualifying than in practice yesterday and P2 is really good for tomorrow's race. In today's race starting from P7 I didn't get a good start but I knew it was important to finish the race, take some good points for the championship and we are waiting for tomorrow."
Greg Mansell: "Qualifying was the story of the year so far - 'almost'. We had the hardest qualifying group but the team did a great job with the car. It is by far the best car I've had all season, we just lost out on a new tyre run in free practice because of a red flag. We found two seconds from practice but it was a bit much to find the last two tenths. But I'm very happy with it and even though in qualifying we were only seventh fastest, it was a good seventh. In the race I got a half decent start off the line but I got bogged down shifting between gears; I got squeezed from both sides and I had to pull out, which put me out of position for the next two corners. That dropped us down to 17th but the car was good in the race. We could overtake in most corners and it was very exciting. From a pure racing point of view that was the most exciting race of the year, it shows the potential of the package, but this is one of those series you have to start up at the front.""
Colin Morgan (Team Manager): ""It wasn't a great race but it could've been a lot worse. In qualifying Miguel did a great job but he was disappointed not to get pole. With the reverse grid he started in 7th and that's where he finished. Greg is getting closer in qualifying, but it is what it is and it's getting the confidence in the car to be able to the laps on the new circuits. It's difficult but he is getting better and better with every race. It was an interesting race, with Greg driving a really good race; it was just a shame he didn't get into the top ten. Miguel had a solid run for 7th but the result doesn't do justice for the work that was done. We're looking forward to tomorrow and a good race with Miguel starting in second place. Hopefully he'll get a good run down to the first corner, take the lead and take it from there."
Round 7 of the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship takes place on Sunday 14 June and Eurosport International will be showing the race live at 12:15 with British Eurosport showing the race 'as live' at 15:15.