Renault WS » 01 October 2006
WS: Fourth win of season for peerless Maldonado.
With Barba out of the way, Maldonado, having gambled on a dry weather set-up as the circuit began to establish a clear line, set about putting the pressure on Garcia, duly finding a way past on lap nine and taking just a further two laps to pass Gommendy into a lead as they begun lap eleven, going side-by-side down the home straight before Maldonado passed into the first corner. He would go on to extend that lead to two seconds in little more than a lap.
With times tumbling on a rapidly drying circuit, the drivers began to dive into the pit-lane, with Miguez pitting first from fourth, a lap prior to Maldonado and Hanley, while Fukuda, Barba, Gommendy and Garcia would last only another couple of laps on wet tyres before they gave in to fresh rubber.
With the pit-stops over with, Maldonado resumed with an even bigger lead, some seven seconds ahead of Gommendy and Garcia, who were circulating in similar lap times.
However, fourth was now being occupied by Montanari, the podium winner from the first race clearly benefiting from an unusual early pit-stop for slick tyres to jump up from the tenth place he held prior to stopping.
Further back, Miguez led Barba, Fukuda, Steven Kane, recovering from the back of the grid after problems in qualifying, and the Brit's Epsilon Euskadi team-mate Davide Valsecchi.
It was this battle that proved to be the one to watch after Barba spun off from a strong sixth place, but not before Montanari made a mistake and slipped down to seventh place, allowing Fukuda up into fourth place.
The man on the move though was Patrick Pilet, the Frenchman having to recover from problems in qualifying to pass Eric Salignon, then Bruce Jouanny and Montanari in just two laps, for an eventual seventh place finish, the Tech 1 driver having started in 25th place.
Maldonado though was the clear winner, crossing the line an unprecedented 17 seconds up on Gommendy, the Draco driver receiving a further point for fastest lap to put him well in the title fight with only two races of the championship at Barcelona remaining.
"We gambled by choosing a dry set-up," he said. "It was difficult to stay on the track on the last few laps. We had a very good pit-stop and the car was very quick at the end of the race."
Gommendy held off the close attentions of Garcia to pull out four seconds by the chequered flag, the Frenchman doing a superb job for Pons Racing on his series comeback, while the ever consistent Garcia will also be pleased to have recorded another podium having struggled over the weekend up to that point.
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