Renault WS » 01 October 2006
WS: Fourth win of season for peerless Maldonado.
Pastor Maldonado put the disappointment of retiring in the first race behind him with an important victory in round 15 of the World Series by Renault at Le Mans, the Venezuelan becoming the latest driver to move within striking distance of the championship lead.
In an eventful race with plenty of incidents, the wet to dry conditions continually shook up the results over the course of the 27 laps, although it was Maldonado triumphing with ease from pole sitter Tristan Gommendy, while Borja Garcia kept his foot well in the championship battle with third place.
Although the rain that affected qualifying had since passed, a wet track greeted the 30 World Series drivers lining up on the grid, with each one opting for treaded tyres in a race that was always likely to be dry towards
the end, thus making the timing of their one and only mandatory pit-stop crucial.
Not that it would matter for a number of drivers who saw their hopes of a good result come to an immediate end as they underestimated the grip into the first corner chicane and went off as a result.
Among those who would fail to continue was championship leader Andy Soucek, as well as, crucially for the Spaniard, his closest competitor Alx Danielsson, the Swede rejoining several laps down later in the race having damaged his front suspension in the first corner melee, but unable to take the single point available for the fastest lap.
Gavin Cronje, Milos Pavlovic and Greg Franchi would also find their race over before it began, after colliding with one another and piling into the stricken Soucek.
Up at the front, Gommendy had none of the dramas he suffered at the start of the first race, pushing into the lead, with Garcia getting the jump on Maldonado to move into second place, while Alvaro Barba scythed up from ninth to third as those around him went off.
Maldonado was fourth at the end of a safety car led first lap, ahead of Miguel Molina, Celso Miguez, the very fast starting Ryo Fukuda and Ben Hanley from 21st and 24th on the grid respectively, with Christian Montanari rounding out the top ten.
With the safety car back in the pit-lane, it did not take long for Barba to push beyond his limits when trying to pass countryman Garcia, the Spaniard slipping behind Maldonado and Miguez to fifth place.
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