ART Grand Prix star Jules Bianchi has registered his seventh victory of the 2009 F3 Euroseries campaign to further extend his championship lead, triumphing in the opening encounter around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

The Frenchman took the chequered flag just over a second clear of impressive M?cke Motorsport ace Alexander Sims, the best-placed rookie driver in second. Another rookie, SG Formula's Andrea Caldarelli, secured his team its maiden podium finish of the season in third.

What's more, Bianchi's performance was the perfect riposte to his Brands Hatch disaster last time out, when a brace of accidents had left him to walk away empty-handed, his first failure to score all year. This time around, from pole-position the 20-year-old led all the way from lights-out to chequered flag.

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"It wasn't an easy race," asserted the man from Nice. "My start wasn't good, but I managed to stay in front. During the race, I couldn't make any mistakes, because Alex Sims was close behind me. After my bad weekend at Brands Hatch, this win feels really good."

Behind Sims and Caldarelli, Valtteri Bottas made it three rookies inside the top four with a good showing for ART Grand Prix, with Henkie Waldschmidt (SG Formula) and Bianchi's chief title contender Christian Vietoris (M?cke Motorsport) rounding out the top half dozen.

"My start was very good," reported Sims. "At the re-start after the safety car, I wasn't fast enough and Andrea overtook me - but I managed to counter-attack. My car was fantastic and I was able to close the gap to Jules again. However, he was too far off to start an attack."

"My start to the race wasn't great," countered Caldarelli, "but the re-start was much better. I managed to hold onto third place throughout the race and was only just behind Jules and Alex. Only at the end did it become more difficult, and I had to let the two guys in front of me pull away. Third place is great, and important for me and my team SG Formula. I hope it goes on like this."

There was no such joy, however, for Kolles & Heinz Union ace Nick Tandy, Signature competitor Jean-Karl Vernay and Stefano Coletti of Prema Powerteam, who came together to end all three of their races on the very first lap, prompting an early five-lap safety car period into the bargain.

To see the race result in full, click here