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Sten Pentus on the right track

Decidedly, Motorland Aragón is paying hommage to Estonia this weekend! Following on from Kevin Korjus’ win in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, it was Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) who took the win here in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The key to the Fortec Motorsport driver’s success was perfect race strategy. Pentus drove to victory ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing). The Australian leaves Motorland Aragon on top of the standings in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

Conditions were still fairly wet for the second qualifying session of the weekend. But with the track drying out, the last flying lap was always likely to be decisive. Sure enough, Daniel Ricciardo made it count, driving a perfect last lap to take his second consecutive pole-position in Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Sten Pentus, Jan Charouz and Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing) were 2nd, 3rd and 4th in qualifying.

The weather was fine and the crowds were out as the teams prepared for the start of race 2, with its compulsory pit stop rule (requiring the change of at least two tires between laps 5 and 15). Daniel Ricciardo got off to a good start as the lights went out, but Sten Pentus and Jan Charouz positioned themselves better into turn one. Charouz got himself through and into first place, followed by Sten Pentus and Daniel Ricciardo. Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi), 12th in line on the grid, was already up in 4th place (!) ahead of Federico Leo (Pons Racing), in 5th. The latter driver finally succumbed to the attacks from Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport).

The breakaway trio, consisting of Jan Charouz, Sten Pentus and Daniel Ricciardo, pulled away from the rest of their rivals, but still there was plenty of action in the wake of the leader group. Albert Costa was solid in fourth, while Federico Leo and Walter Grubmuller took turns to overtake each other, Leo eventually getting the better of Grubmuller.

The race order stayed put until Albert Costa initiated the spate of pit stops. Jan Charouz followed suit on the next lap, giving the leadership to Sten Pentus, who had Daniel Ricciardo breathing down his neck. The two men strung together a bunch of quick laps before pitting for the tire change. Daniel Ricciardo stopped ahead of Sten Pentus, but the Tech 1 Racing team lost time in the pits. Not so for the Estonian driver. The stop in fact served Sten Pentus’ campaign well and he restarted ahead of Jan Charouz, leaving Daniel Ricciardo, in 3rd place, and having lost ground. The Austrialian driver found himself in front of a compact group consisting of Albert Costa, Federico Leo, Nathanael Berthon (International Draco Racing), Walter Grubmuller and Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing).

Up front, Sten Pentus managed to pull away from Jan Charouz, and at the chequered flag the Estonian took the first win of his career in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Meanwhile in the chasing pack, Nathanaël Berthon was on an overtaking spree. He got past Federico Leo then Albert Costa, to finally finish up in fourth position, a few seconds behind Daniel Riccciardo. Second, Jan Charouz was excluded from this race on account of a technical non-compliance with Article 22.14 of the sporting regulation : Cars must carry no less than three litres of unused fuel reserve when in the Parc Ferme at the end of qualifying sessions and the races.

Daniel Ricciardo is finally second and leaves Motorland Aragon on top of the standings in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Nathanael Berthon gets the points of the third place.

Quote, unquote:

Sten Pentus: “I’ve made progress during the winter. I know the car better, we’ve done a lot of work … and this win today is a reward for all that. There’s still a long way to go to get to the highest level, but we’re on the right track. We went for the right race strategy. It’s been a good day for us.”
Daniel Ricciardo:[/bold] “Tonight I lead the championship. After winter testing disturbed by to a number of things, I was hoping to make a reasonably good start and leave here in the top 3. So in that respect, mission accomplished! Scoring points is important. Now I need to work on my starts. At the moment, that’s my weak point …”

Official Renault Sport Press Release

Posted: 18 April 2010
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