Bertrand Baguette Champion!
International Draco Racing's Bertrand Baguette puts paid to further speculation in front of a crowd of 90 000 spectators. Finishing fifth, the Belgian claims the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title to follow Giedo Van der Garde into the history books. With just two more races left this season, this round was won by Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic, who celebrates a second place in the Championship, followed by teammate Brendon Hartley and Mofaz Fortec Motorsport's Fairuz Fauzy.
For this second race of the weekend, which was potentially the decider for the title, Brendon Hartley lined up in pole position for the first time this season while baguette started from seventh place. In the International Draco Racing pit the calculators were out, as out on the starting grid Baguette was as good as champion.
Charles Pic got the best start when the lights changed, taking the lead ahead of teammate Brendon Hartley and Comtec Racing's Jon Lancaster. Baguette was overtaken on the first bend, slipping back to ninth place, but succeded on lap two in overtaking P1 Motorsport's Daniil Move at the end of the start-finish straight to claim eighth. At that point, Baguette's hopes for supremacy were fading.
As usual when leading a race, Pic's performance was solid and he began to build a lead over the duo of Hartley and Lancaster. Fourth, Fauzy was lapping in the group consisting of P1 Motorsport's James Walker and Comtec Racing's Jon Martin. Behind them Baguette overtook Carlin Motorsport's Oliver Turvey, to reclaim 7th place, and revive his hopes of being crowned Champion. Throwing caution to the wind, he overtook John Martin on the following lap to take 6th, not far behind Fairuz Fauzy and James Walker.
Fauzy and Walker were the first to enter the pits for their mandatory stop. Meanwhile, the two Tech 1 Racing cars continued to step up the pace in order to capitalize on their lead. One by one, the other drivers began to make their stops. Hartley and Baguette were among the last to pull in for their tyre-change, although Charles Pic waited a further two laps before he pulled in. Jon Lancaster adopted an offensive strategy and stayed out for as long as possible, racking up fastest laps.
With the pit-stops complete, Pic led the race by a comfortable margin ahead of Hartley. Jon Lancaster was still third ahead of Fairuz Fauzy, James Walker and Bertrand Baguette. Pic and Hartley had total control of the race and gave Tech 1 Racing it first one-two of the season. With a podium finish within reach, Jon Lancaster ground to a halt on the side of the track due to an electrical problem, his third place going to Fairuz Fauzy. All eyes were now on Bertrand Baguette. In fifth place, the Belgian had been handed the title of 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Champion.
Bertrand Baguette: "It's been a tough weekend, with a lot of pressure. At the start, I had trouble finding the pace. I lost a few places, but I decided not to give it too much thought and just get stuck in. It's my first international title, which is great. I can go to Motorland Aragon without any pressure, just to win more races. We're working on entering F1 next season. That's my goal."
Charles Pic: "I started in second position on the grid, but I managed to take the lead on the first corner. It was a very positive race and I had a very competitive car. Now I'm second in the points, it's terrific!"
Brendon Hartley: "Having started from pole, I would have preferred a win, but I'm happy with the result anyway. I tried putting Charles under pressure before the mandatory pit-stop in the rest of the race too, but he just drove a great race."