Parente podium enough to take title.
1 January 1901
Alvaro Parente is the new World Series by Renault Champion after third place in the penultimate race of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya proved good enough to claim the title slightly early.
Finishing a place lower than he started, Parente went into the race needing a minimum of fifth to claim the title, and that was only if arch-rival Ben Hanley could win it – something made all the more difficult when he only qualified 15th.
Unsurprisingly, with Hanley finishing just ninth, Parente made no mistake to take the final spot on the podium and therefore ensure the title would be out of reach for anyone else.
The race itself was won by Miguel Molina, after he managed to produce the perfect pit-stop to deny Salvador Duran a second win of the season.
Forced to start on the damper side of the circuit, Parente couldn't quite jump pole sitter Duran on the long run down to the first corner, slotting into second place and following the Mexican over the first part of the race.
Indeed, the pair were comfortably faster than those directly behind, that group consisting of Molina, Milos Pavlovic, Giedo van der Garde, Mikhail Aleshin and Robert Wickens. Although a mistake for Duran allowed Parente to try an attack, the Interwetten Racing driver remained in the lead as the first round of pit stops got underway.
Keen to keep out of trouble, Parente was the first to make his stop on lap seven, allowing Duran – who now had Molina for company – to build up a good lead on a clear track.
Their battle came to a head on lap 13 when both Duran and Molina entered the pit lane at the same time, making it a battle of the pit crews to decide who would come out on top. Cheered on by the home fans, the Pons Racing team got Molina out ahead of Duran, much to the Mexican's frustration.
That was how the top order stayed, with Molina adding to his maiden victory last time out at Estoril and moving up to seventh place in the standings as a result.
However, the teenager could yet see his victory taken away from him by virtue of an appeal that came following an incident in Portugal which was supposed to result in a grid penalty. [see separate story].
Duran was second to score his fourth podium finish of the season, while Parente was a lonely but very happy third as the 14 points in total he has gained so far this weekend makes him the dominant winner of this year's title.
With the title decided, attention now turns to the remaining championship positions, in particular the runners-up spot which is separated by just a single point after Pavlovic finished fourth. However, while Hanley could only manage ninth, he will at least start the second race from the front row of the grid, giving him the chance of holding the Serb at bay.
Mikhail Aleshin's rollercoaster season hit another crest with a fifth place finish, while Robert Wickens' seventh place also signals one time team leaders' Carlin Motorsport's best points haul since Donington Park.
Splitting them was the sister car of Giedo van der Garde, the Dutchman moving up to sixth in the standings, despite having not scored a podium this season. It is something he will look to rectify from fifth on the grid in the final race of the year.
Bertrand Baguette had an unusually quiet race to score three points for eighth, while the tenth and final point – as well as pole position for the second race – went the way of outgoing title winners Comtec Racing and their driver Alejandro Nunez.