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Formula Renault 3.5

Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) became the first driver this season to win two races in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series after executing the perfect strategy and switching to wet tyres at just the right time. Marco Sorensen (Lotus) and André Negrao (International Draco Racing) joined him on the podium. By finishing fourth, Sam Bird (ISR) leapfrogged Robin Frijns (Fortect Motorsports) into the championship lead. But with Bird already contracted to Mercedes AMG F1 Team, Frijns took the prize of a drive in one of the Red Bull Racing F1 demonstrations scheduled during the next meeting at Moscow Raceway.

There was certainly no sleep in Robin Frijns’s eyes on Sunday morning as he claimed the first pole position of his Formula Renault 3.5 Series career, clocking a circuit record with a lap of 1:39.991. The 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion lined up on the front row alongside Marco Sorensen, with French drivers Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) and Arthur Pic (Dams) sitting behind them on the second row.

Rain showers had made the track damp in the morning, but the surface was dry in parts as the 26 drivers lined up on the starting grid. Frijns made a less than perfect getaway, but Sorensen was more concerned with protecting his second place from the dual menace of Bianchi and Sam Bird. At this point the rain began to fall, and the combination of a wet track and slick tyres meant that slides and spins were inevitable, as well as a shake-up of the race order. The safety car then came out in front of Frijns, Bianchi, Bird and Sorensen. Cesar Ramos (Lotus), Carlos Huertas (Fortec Motorsports) and Yann Cunha (Pons Racing) were the first drivers to fall foul of the conditions and retire.

At the restart, with the track completely soaked, Frijns managed to retain the race lead. Bianchi was the first driver to head to the pits for the obligatory tyre-change and rejoined the race on slicks. The Frenchman was then caught out, however, and took a detour into the gravel trap. Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, Bird passed Frijns and moved into the lead.

Sorenson, for his part, employed a different strategy to his opponents and waited as long as possible before making his compulsory trip to the pits. Out in front, he strung together some of the best laps of the race and left the pits with a five-second lead over Frijns and Bird, before the rain returned. Sorensen and Frijns opted to pit again to switch to treaded tyres, and the majority of the other drivers soon followed suit.

At this point, the weather played right into Yelloly’s hands. Unlike his opponents, the British driver made just one stop during the race, and by switching to wet tyres at the right moment, he was able to seize the race lead and hold it all the way to the finish. Far behind him, the two remaining podium places were being contested by Negrao and Sorensen, with Danish driver Sorensen eventually finding the opening on the third-from-last lap. Yelloly took victory ahead of Sorensen and Negrao, with Bird finishing fourth to move above Frijns to the top of the championship standings.

What they said:

Nick Yelloly: “I didn’t have the best start to the race. I was hovering around eighth place and it was really hard to stay on the track in the rain. Slick tyres were needed after that, but I could see the clouds were approaching. So I decided to stay out on track as long as possible, and I made the right choice. The rain became really heavy, and that was the point when we needed to change tyres. I only made one stop, and that allowed me to win. Winning the title is still my main objective, and this second victory for the season puts me back on course.”

Marco Sorensen: “It was a difficult race, to say the least. This morning we were quick in qualifying, and to achieve that we made huge changes to the car’s handling overnight. The start of the race was crazy. I overtook, other cars overtook me – it was just crazy. I’m happy to have finished second, and my car worked in all conditions.”

Official Renault Sport Press Release.

Posted: 01 July 2012
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