Having failed to finish and therefore score in the opening race of the weekend, Giedo van der Garde hit back in the second World Series by Renault encounter at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, to claim his third victory from just four starts in 2008.
In a dominant performance, the championship leader came home more than seven seconds clear of second-placed Marco Bonanomi, who had outpaced the Dutchman in SuperPole the previous day, with Mikhail Aleshin completing the rostrum for Carlin Motorsport in front of the 75,000 spectators thronging the challenging Ardennes circuit.
With the starting line-up for race two determined by SuperPole, Bonanomi preceded van der Garde, Aleshin and Robert Wickens on the grid, and whilst the Italian retained his advantage at lights-out, Aleshin nipped past van der Garde into second. Wickens, for his part, ran wide in La Source, causing confusion further back and leading to Julien Jousse losing ground as the nose of the Frenchman's Tech 1 machine got damaged in the ensuing mêlée.
Behind the leading trio, race one runner-up Salvador Duran ran third, with fellow earlier podium finisher Guillaume Moreau just behind, whilst on the second lap van der Garde overtook Aleshin to snatch second place.
As Bonanomi and van der Garde – the latter coming out fighting with a new set of tyres which he had saved for the race – began to pull away, Aleshin back in third was coming under the attentions of Duran, Moreau and Miguel Molina. Van der Garde successfully made a move for the lead on lap four on the approach to the first chicane, and after the pit-stops held a three-second margin over his pursuers, still led by Bonanomi and Aleshin.
There was less luck, however, for fifth-placed Moreau, who picked up a drive-through penalty for not respecting priority in the pit-lane, consequently slipping back down to a frustrated 14th place at the close and promoting the following Molina up a position.
Aleshin and Duran came along to challenge Bonanomi in the race's closing stages – though the Comtec ace would ultimately hold on – whilst behind them Daniil Move got past Molina to take fifth.
“Yesterday, I missed out on big points,” reflected van der Garde, whose race two success helped to consolidate his advantage in the drivers' points' standings. “Today I had a lot of wheelspin on the starting line and I fell back to third place. After that, I gradually made it into first place. The car really suits my driving style – that explains why everything's going so well for me right now.”
“The championship really got going for me this weekend!” enthused Bonanomi. “I took the first SuperPole, I picked up points and that's great. I'm really looking forward to Monaco.”
“I tried to put pressure on Marco Bonanomi at the end,” added Aleshin, “but I never got the chance to attack. The next meeting is at Monaco, which is always a lottery!”
To see the second race results in full, click here