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Nathanael Berthon makes good at home

At Magny-Cours, the second Formula Renault 3.5 race was disrupted by rain showers and penalties. However, International Draco Racing's Nathanael Berthon battled the elements and claimed his first victory in the class despite a comeback by Tech 1 Racing's Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the race. In fourth, Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin retains a firm grip on the championship lead.

While the early morning weather was far from ideal, the track was completely dry by the time the drivers got started on the second qualifying session. With a lap time of 1'26"390, Australia's Daniel Ricciardo claimed his fourth pole of the season ahead of Nathanaël Berthon and Mikhail Aleshin.

As the drivers lined up on the grid for the second race of the weekend they were greeted by a rain shower. As a result the start was delayed. Some drivers opted for slicks, as did the drivers on the front row, while other opted for wet weather tyres. Rain having replaced the sunshine at the start, Lotus Junior Racing’s Daniil Move and Tech 1 Racing’s Brendon Hartley both stalled and were forced to start from the pits.

With the race underway, slicks appeared to be the smart option with Daniel Ricciardo leading the first lap ahead of Berthon, Aleshin, ISR’s Filip Salaquarda and Esteban Guerrieri, and Epsilon Euskadi’s Albert Costa. It wasn’t long before Ricciardo, Berthon and Aleshin were starting to catch up with the backmarkers. Behind them, Guerrieri and Costa both overtook Salaquarda to claim 4th and 5th.

But after the rain had stopped, there came a deluge of Drive Through penalties. Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Guerrieri, Albert Costa, Daniil Move, Brendon Hartley and Fortec Motorsport’s Jon Lancaster were all given penalties for having changed their tires shortly after the 5 minutes mark. The drivers took their penalties while those still sporting wet tyres pitted to change to slicks. Meanwhile, all alone up front, Berthon and Aleshin chose to pit early to change tires. It was only once all drivers had stopped that the situation began to become clearer.

With all the mandatory tire changes completed, Berthon led the race ahead of Aleshin. Filip Salaquarda was now third leading Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa. The Australian set to driving some fast laps in an attempt to catch the Czech. A new shower broke over the track and Ricciardo took advantage of it to pass Salaquarda for third place. By this point, Mikahil Aleshin was right behind the leader, Nathanaël Berthon. But the Russian was caught out by the damp track, ending up in the gravel at the Adelaide hairpin. Daniel Ricciardo now found himself in second place, just two seconds behind the leader. Salaquarda was third and Aleshin, recovered from his incident, fourth.

Three separate struggles set the tone for the end of the race; Berthon versus Ricciardo, Salaquarda versus Aleshin and Costa versus Guerrieri. The suspense never let up during the closing laps. Nevertheless, the positions would remain the same, and Nathanaël Berthon claimed his first win in Formula Renault 3.5 Series in front of his home crowd. Behind him were Daniel Ricciardo, Filip Salaquarda, Mikhail Aleshin and Albert Costa, fifth.

Nathanael Berthon: “It’s perfect for me to claim my first victory in France. Daniel was very fast, and towards the end it was getting difficult to hold him off. I’m really happy to have won to day and it’s really inspired me for the end of the season. I’ve got a lot of ground to make up, but there's everything to play for."

Official Renault Sport Press Release

Posted: 20 June 2010
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