Valencia WS 2005: Full house for Epsilon Euskadi
5 June 2005
Epsilon Euskadi pulled off the first ever one-two in World Series by Renault history as Valencia poleman Felix Porteiro resisted team-mate Robert Kubica from lights to flag at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
With Eric Salignon stalling at the beginning of the formation lap and having to start from the back of the grid, Porteiro and Kubica had little difficulty in taking control of the race as the lights went out
Running neck-and-neck in the opening stages, the two Basque-run cars quickly moved several lengths ahead of Will Power, Adrian Valles, Simon Pagenaud, Andreas Zuber, Markus Winkelhock, Tristan Gommendy, Patrick Pilet and Jaap van Lagen, who all appeared to be scrapping over third. The top ten also broke away from a second group led by the returning Alx Danielsson, although van Lagen lost his spot at the top table when he put his car through an impressive 360° spin on the second lap. Somehow, the Dutchman regained control and was able to continue....
Colin Fleming was equally fortunate, despite losing several places as a result of a skirmish with the gravel, but the race came to a premature end for Medhi Bennani, who could not escape its stony clutches in what was only his second WS race - and his first with gravel traps after debuting in Monaco.
After three laps, the front five had built up a clear lead over the chasing pack, although Fleming had already made a fine comeback, having moved up to tenth position. Again, others were not so lucky, with Winkelhock making a costly mistake that lost him five places, and Zuber being forced to pit with a mechanical failure.
Despite the close attention of the four cars in his wake, local man Porteiro eventually established a one-second lead over team-mate Kubica, as the Pole continued to come under threat from Power, Valles and Pagenaud.
Mirroring the top ten, meanwhile, the fight for places was just as fierce in the main field, with Christian Montanari - the winner in Monaco - moving past Daniel la Rosa to take twelfth place, and the recovering van Lagen getting the better of Milos Pavlovic. Indian driver Karun Chandhok was also finding a fine performance, managing to overtake Celso Miguez and then Ryo Fukuda to move up the order. Raffaele Giammaria continued to make progress on his World Series learning curve, but the Italian's race came to a premature end on lap eight after he ran out of road and beached his DAMS entry in the gravel trap.
On lap 14 of 19, the race lost another two drivers, as Tomas Kostka and Giorgio Mondini both retired and, while the top five remained largely unchanged to the chequered flag, Gommendy also made an error that allowed fellow Frenchman Pilet to move past him into sixth.
Out front, however, Porteiro was able to give the Spanish crowd the home victory they had been cheering for, leading Kubica across the line by a comfortable - in the overall scheme of things, anyway - 1.1secs.
“It's very special to get my first race win of the season at home," the Spaniard admitted, "The most important thing here was to get the pole for the sprint race and, when I saw that Salignon had stalled, I thought that that would make things easier. After that, it was a good race, even though I had a lot of oversteer at the end.”
Kubica's second place was good for his championship challenge, the points leader extending his advantage at the top of the table.
“This is a good result for the championship and an excellent result for the team," the Pole conceded, "The car was understeering a lot of the time and that affected the performance. We now need to confirm our good form in the second race, where race tactics will be extremely important.”
For Power, who crossed the line third and only half a second further back, the race confirmed that his pre-season form had been no fluke. The Australian had set the pace at almost every circuit the series visited, but had run into a wall of bad luck once racing started last month.
“The car was quick enough for me to get pole, but I made one or two mistakes," the Carlin Motorsport man reported, "But it was a good race, and it's nice to finish on the podium after a disastrous weekend at Zolder and my poor result in qualifying at Monaco.”
Valles and Pagenaud confirmed their top five places, with Gommendy unable to wrest sixth back from Pilet before the chequered flag came out. Danielsson took eight on his return from injury, heading Fleming and Enrico Toccacelo in the top ten. Salignon, who stalled before the race had even started, could not make as much headway as some of his rivals and was eventually classified 23rd and last of the finishers.