With pole position and two victories, plus topping both test sessions on Thursday, Giedo van der Garde ensured that his World Series by Renault campaign got off to the best possible start at Monza.
Having come from behind to win on Saturday, the P1 Motorsport driver led race two from start to finish, taking victory ahead of Spaniard Alvaro Barba, while teenager Charles Pic added to his growing reputation by coming home third in only his second race in the category.
van der Garde made the best start from pole position, gaining a little extra advantage as Marco Bonanomi surprised the other front row starter, Robert Wickens, by moving up to second. Further back, however, there was the usual Monza trouble, with third and fourth row starters Fabio Carbone and Bertrand Baguette running off at the Curva Grande, ending miserable weekends for both.
"I am very sad," Baguette said, "This is a negative start to the season, when I should have achieved good results and gained many points. Yesterday, the break and, today, the incident on the first lap. I did not notice Carbone but, in a moment, I understood that my race was compromised."
The safety car, called out to allow the two cars to be cleared from the track, bunched up the pack and denied van der Garde the opportunity to build a handy lead, but the Dutchman continued to run ahead of Bonanomi and Wickens, while Barba, Pasquale di Sabatino, Mikhail Aleshin, Pic, Pablo Sanchez, Julien Jousse and Guillaume Moreau completed the early top ten.
From the restart, the race order remained unchanged, but the front four gradually started to pull clear, leaving a seven-car battle over fifth as they circulated within a couple of seconds of each other with seven laps gone. Next time around, however, Wickens started to attack Bonanomi, but the Italian, racing in front of his home crowd, defended his second place vigorously - to such an extent that the two cars collided, sending Wickens crashing into the barriers and out of the race. Bonanomi did not escaped unscathed, however, as race control quickly took the decision to show him the black flag, leaving van der Garde and Barba to fight it out for the victory.
“It's awful to have been running so strong throughout the weekend and come away with no points," an understandably disappointed Wickens said, "In the first race, I passed Carbone for third place and then he just seemed to run into the back of me, and now, in the second race, I was racing Bananomi for second, he defended and I went to the outside, but then he moved over and just drove into the side of me, breaking my left front suspension."
Pic had made the first move in the chasing group, passing Aleshin for sixth, and consequently found himself for a possible podium as he closed in on di Sabatino. The youngster appeared to spur Tech 1 team-mate Jousse into action, the older Frenchman attacking and passing Aleshin.
Eventually, Pic's pressure began to tell, as di Sabatino locked up into the opening chicane on lap 20. Pic did his best to make use of the opportunity, but had to wait until the next lap before finally moving into third, leaving it until the very last moment to get on the brakes at the same place. Jousse also made the most of the opening created by his team-mate, pushing past di Sabatino, who subsequently slipped back down the standings, eventually crossing the line outside the points in eleventh.