Renault WS » 30 May 2006
WS: Maldonado preserves Draco record.
The name may have changed but it was still Draco to the fore in the World Series by Renault event at Monaco on Sunday, as Pastor Maldonado made the most of a mistake by Christian Montanari - the 2005 winner - to claim his first WS win.
Montanari, racing this season with series newcomers Prema Powerteam, got off to the perfect start from pole and was first into Ste Devote, ahead of Maldonado and returnee Jaap van Lagen, but could not keep his nose clean under continued pressure from the Venezuelan.
On lap two, the race took on a completely different complexion as Montanari nearly lost it at Massenet and made slight contact with the barriers. That was all Maldonado needed to move into the lead, although Montanari - who had battled round one winner Eric Salignon at Zolder - remained determined to regain the lead and was quickly back on the attack.
The two rivals completed lap three with a five-second lead over James Rossiter, but Montanari's race ended on lap seven, when he crashed into the barrier at the Swimming Pool chicane. That left Maldonado alone out front, with a growing nine-second lead over Rossiter. However, despite the apparent comfort zone, the race was far from over, as Maldonado clipped the barrier at Ste Devote on lap eleven, giving his British pursuer a glimmer of hope if only he could increase the pressure.
Woken by his near miss, however, the Venezuelan's concentration appeared improved and, from that point on, he set a series of fastest laps to keep focused on crossing the line first.
"I got a good start and I knew the car was right, but the opening laps were crucial as it was a question of getting the tyres up to temperature in controlled fashion," he said later, "I was just waiting for Christian to make a mistake and always felt sure I could win."
After starting from the back row, Zolder double winner Salignon could only cross the line in 20th position, way out of the points, allowing Maldonado to rein him in in the standings.
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