Giedo van der Garde returned to winning ways in a colourful opening World Series by Renault race at Budapest's Hungaroring, bolstering his championship advantage after a close-fought battle with Julien Jousse, while Sunday polesitter Fabio Carbone became the 14th different podium visitor in just eight races.
Failing to take advantage of the reverse grid system implemented with Superpole, Jousse's Tech 1 team-mate Charles Pic (spun his wheels off the line, allowing Alexandre Marsoin to hit the front when the lights went out.
van der Garde also made it past the Frenchman, while Alvaro Barba slotted into fourth, ahead of Jousse and Marcos Martinez. Jousse, however, was not to be denied for long and, quickly disposed of Barba to close on Pic. His charge was halted after three laps, however, when the safety car was brought out to clear the cars of Salvador Duran and Aleix Alcaraz were cleared from the track. Marsoin, meanwhile, held his ground against van der Garde, while Pic, Jousse and Martinez - who had also taken Barba - massed behind the Dutchman.
The front four pulled away at the restart, and again after another safety car came out when Esteban Guerrieri crashed out, but began to shuffle after that as, while Marsoin defended top spot, Jousse and Martinez both took Pic. Behind them, Barba and Molina clashed and, in trying to get away from the incident, Barba also collided with Mario Romancini, bringing out the safety car for its third outing in just over ten laps.
Marsoin's sterling defence was not to last, meanwhile, but not through any great pressure from van der Garde. Instead, the rookie was handed a drive through penalty after it was adjudged that his start had been just too good.
van der Garde duly replaced the Frenchman at the head of the field with ten laps to go, with Jousse, Martinez, Carbone and Bertrand Baguette slotting in behind as Pic succumbed to the battling, slipping back to 15th place after he went off.
Just when he appeared to have third place in his pocket, however, Martinez spun out, dropping to 13th and handing third place on the podium to Carbone.
Jousse was not giving up and, right at the end, beat the lap record as he closed the gap to van der Garde, but the Dutchman was able to hold him off and take his fourth win of the season.
"We've worked hard to make the car consistent in races," the winner commented, "I made a very good start and then I made the most of Marsoin's penalty, so it's a good result - but, tomorrow, it will be equally wide open!"
Jousse admitted that he hadn't expected to claim a podium finish from seventh on the grid.