Walker ahead of Baguette James Walker (P1 Motorsport) is first driver of the season to topple Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing). The P1 Motorsport driver's attack strategy pays dividends as he drives to the win ahead of Bertrand Baguette ...
Walker ahead of Baguette
James Walker (P1 Motorsport) is first driver of the season to topple Marcos Martinez (Pons Racing). The P1 Motorsport driver's attack strategy pays dividends as he drives to the win ahead of Bertrand Baguette (International Draco Racing) and Miguel Molina (Ultimate Motorsport). The Formula Renault 3.5 Series favourites are back!
The Belgian crowd was out in large numbers (a fantastic 78,000 spectators) to support pole-sitter Bertrand Baguette. They saw him lead into the first bend ahead of Miguel Molina, Charles Pic (Tech 1 Racing), James Walker and Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport). The Belgian took a commanding position while Miguel Molina did his best to contain the attacks from Charles Pic. Pic moved up alongside the Spanish driver, but Molina was not to be intimidated and braked late. Charles Pic had no alternative but to cut across the grass. The Tech 1 Racing man got off fairly lightly considering, but dropped back to fifth, while Walker took advantage of the situation to oust Molina from second spot. Seconds later, Arian Valles (Epsilon Euskadi) and Chris Van der Drift (Epsilon Euskadi) came together, causing the safety car to interrupt the racing. At this point, Bertrand Baguette lay first ahead of James Walker, Miguel Molina, Daniil Move, Charles Pic, Marco Barba (International Draco Racing), Marco Martinez (Pons Racing), Jaime Alguesuari (Carlin Motorsport), Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) and Pasquale di Sabatino (RC Motorsport).
Bertrand Baguette kept his position when the green flag was waived. Marcos Martinez cornered wide in the La Source hairpin, Oliver Turvey took advantage to grab 7th place. Martinez opted to pit straight afterwards and James Walker and Charles Pic followed suit a lap later. Pic lost precious time in the pits though, with an unwilling right hand wheel. As for Miguel Molina and Bertrand Baguette, they opted to wait as long as they could before the tire change. The Belgian crowd had been hoping to see Bertrand Baguette take the win, but it was James Walker who had staked his claim to victory by the end of the series of refuelling stops. The British driver put his offset strategy to good effect getting several clear laps where he banged in quick laps. James Walker had a 1''8 lead over second placed Bertrand Baguette, and Baguette had Miguel Molina and Daniil Move close behind him to deal with. P1 Motorsport driver James Walker then proceeded to open the gap and moved further out of reach from Bertrand Baguette and Miguel Molina. In fourth, Daniil Move couldn't keep up with the pace of the leaders and had to watch out for Marcos Martinez, Jaime Alguersuari, Oliver Turvey and Marco Barba all looming in his mirror.
The last two laps were disrupted by rain. Oliver Turvey took advantage of the conditions and surprised Jaime Alguersuari in Les Combes while Marco Barba span coming up to the blind Pouhon corner. After a troubled start to the season, James Walker got his show very much back on the road by driving to his first victory of the year, ahead of Bertrand Baguette, twice runner-up on his home circuit. Miguel Molina also took his second podium of the weekend. In the last lap, Oliver Turvey got the better of Marcos Martinez to grab 5th place. However, Turvey received a twenty-five second penalty for deviating from the racing line. So Marcos Martinez retrieved his 5th place. In sixth, Jaime Alguersuari finishes first of the rookies.
James Walker: "After a difficult time in Barcelona and our retirement yesterday, we needed success in this race. Ahead of the race, we hadn't determined our strategy. We refuelled early and I was able to get six or seven laps in all on my own. That's where I built my win here. My season really got started today!"
Bertrand Baguette: "The win was possible. But I lost some time with the safety car, then when I pitted changing the rear tires. Nevertheless, the weekend has been very good for points. We're off to a good start now, and we need to continue to rack up as many points as possible at all the circuits."
Miguel Molina: "This podium is very important. We got a good start, but I lost a fair few chances of a win in my episode with Charles Pic. The team worked well, it's a positive weekend. We're all focused on Monaco now, and we'll hope to do better there."