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vd Garde wins at Le Mans.

Having withdrawn from Saturday's race before it had even started, World Series by Renault points leader Giedo van der Garde made amends with his fifth win of the season by taking the feature event at Le Mans.

In front of a healthy crowd - an estimated 170,000 spectators turned out over the weekend - the Dutch driver moved one step closer to securing the title, by seeing off the ever-present Ultimate Signature challenge of Fabio Carbone and Esteban Guerrieri.

Only 25 cars lined up on the start grid, with a clutch problem confining Robert Wickens' Carlin entry to the pits. Unlike van der Garde on Saturday, however, the Canadian was, thanks to his mechanics, able to join the race from there.

Polesitter Guerrieri did not get the start he wanted, as both van der Garde and team-mate Carbone both passed him on the first bend. The Argentine did manage to slot into third, however, with Mikhail Aleshin, in the second Carlin car, and race one winner Charles Pic lining up behind him. Further back, Siso Cunill ran into Marcos Martinez, forcing his own retirement, and sending his fellow Spaniard to the pits for repairs to he rear wing.

With metronomic consistency, van der Garde repeatedly set new fastest laps as he opened up a gap between himself and the chasing pack. After five laps, the P1 Motorsport driver had built a two-second lead over Carbone who, in turn, was well clear of Guerrieri. At the other end of the field, however, van der Garde's team-mate, Pippa Mann, pulled out, completing the retirements for the day with just six laps under her belt.

Sixth-placed Miguel Molina was the first man to change his tyres but, one by one, the others followed suit, Carbone and Pic stopping on lap eight, and van der Garde one lap later, promoting Guerrieri back to the front of the field. The Argentine then built up quite a head of steam before heading for the pits himself, hoping he had done enough to reclaim the lead for good by the time the dust settled.

Sadly for the man still combining WSbR and F3, it wasn't enough, and van der Garde once again found himself in first place, albeit with the two Ultimate Signature men - Carbone ahead of Guerrieri, right on his tail.

Behind them, fourth-placed Aleshin was running by himself, ahead of a hard-fought battle for fifth spot involving Molina, Pic, Salvador Duran and Marco Barba. Despite some frenetic tussling, however, the four involved remained in the same order until the end of the race.

There was a similar situation at the front, with no change in the order as the finish approached. Able to resist the challenge from behind, van der Garde duly completed his fifth win of the season to move one step closer to a title he has looked favourite to take since dominating the opening coupe of rounds. Despite not being quite as successful since, the Dutchman now leads Carbone by 53 points, and needs just nine more to take over from Alvaro Parente as champion.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Giedo van der Garde - P1 Motorsport [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Carlos Sainz Jr  - DAMS [pic credit: Renault Sport]
Start of the FR3.5 season opener at Monza [pic credit: Renault Sport]
Photo: Alexandre Guillaumot/DPPI
Photo: GEPA pictures/Dutch Photo Agency/Sebastiaan Rozendaal
Photo: GEPA pictures/Dutch Photo Agency/Diederik van der Laan
Photo: Renault Sport/DPPI
Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI / Renault Sport Media
Photo: Frederic Le Floch / DPPI / Renault Sport Media
Photo: Dutch Photo Agency
Photo: Jose Espallargas / ASM
Beitske Visser - AVF [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Matthieu Vaxiviere - Lotus [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Marlon Stockinger - Lotus [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Marlon Stockinger - Lotus [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Will Stevens - Strakka Racing [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Will Stevens - Strakka Racing [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]
Marco Sorensen - Tech 1 Racing [pic credit: Renault Sport Media]

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