FR3.5 » 3 May 2009
Walker claims Spa victory
James Walker put his title aspirations back on track with a commanding victory in the second World Series by Renault race of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
Following three wins for Marcos Martinez from the three races so far, Walker recovered from his retirement in the opening race of the weekend to prevail in a tussle with local favourite Bertrand Baguette.
The British driver didn't get away well from the front row, being squeezed into the opening corner to drop to fourth behind pole sitter Baguette, Charles Pic and Miguel Molina. However, he was back up to second by the end of the opening lap when Pic and Molina's dispute for second saw them delay each other at Les Combes.
He timed his move well, Walker getting the chance to catch up to the back of Baguette when the safety car was deployed to clear up a collision between Epsilon Euskadi team-mates Adrian Valles and Chris van der Drift. With Valles managing just a single race lap all weekend, erstwhile team championship leaders Epsilon Euskadi come away from Spa with just two points to show for.
When racing resumed, Walker chased Baguette before choosing to make an earlier pit-stop than his rival. It proved to be a shrewd move, the British driver using the next few clear laps to jump ahead of the Belgian when he eventually came in for his mandatory stop.
From here, Walker was untroubled, pulling away rapidly to eventually cross the line a clear six seconds up from the Draco Racing driver. Victory signals the Jerseyman's second in the category, almost two years after winning at Donington Park for Fortec, a result that helps repair a damaged title challenge following two retirements in three races.
Baguette was a frustrated second, although when taken into consideration with his pole position and his podium in the first race, his haul of 26 points also lifts him well into title contention too. As does Molina, who claimed his second podium of the weekend for USR in third.
Just behind, a smattering of rain in the final couple of laps created chaos for those in the battle for fourth, with a last corner melee eventually seeing Danill Move claim the position for P1 Motorsport.
The Russian had run in the position for much of the race, but was behind Martinez when he made a mistake and allowed him through. Fourth represents Move's best finish in the World Series.
Fifth originally fell to Oliver Turvey, but he was later given a 25 second penalty when he was judged to have gained an advantage by running off the circuit in passing Martinez. As such, the Spaniard gains another point for his championship lead, which now stands at eight points over a charging Baguette.
Jaime Alguersuari moved up to sixth, the Spaniard also benefitting from Marco Barba's spin in the latter stages of the race, while Adrian Zaugg, Pasquale di Sabatino, Greg Mansell and Brendon Hartley completed the top ten.
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