Having opted for a very early change of tyres, RC Motorsport ace Pasquale di Sabatino took advantage of an incident-packed race to claim a somewhat fortuitous breakthrough World Series by Renault victory at the Hungaroring from way down on the starting grid, ahead of Saturday runner-up Marco Barba and surprise package Julian Leal
For the first time of the 2009 campaign, championship leader Marcos Martinez started from pole position ahead of countryman Miguel Molina for Ultimate Motorsport. The two Spaniards held their positions as the race got underway, but behind them it was Draco rival Bertrand Baguette who made the best start, slotting into third place ahead of the Tech 1 Racing entry of Charles Pic, the P1 Motorsport car of James Walker, Red Bull Racing Formula 1 test driver Brendon Hartley and Carlin Motorsport's Jaime Alguersuari.
The opening lap, however, was also marked by a multiple collision, which immediately brought out the safety car. For Adrian Zaugg (Interwetten), Adrian Valles (Epsilon Euskadi), Filip Salaquarda (Prema Powerteam), Greg Mansell (Ultimate Motorsport) and Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport), the race was over no sooner had it begun, whilst Edoardo Mortara (KMP Group/SG Formula) got off more lightly and had to pit to change his front wing.
Then, as the green flag was shown again, Martinez suddenly dropped out of the lead and out of contention altogether with a gearbox sensor failure, leaving his competitors to resume the fight without him. Baguette made the perfect re-start to vault past Molina at the end of the pit straight, ahead of Pic, Walker, Hartley and Alguersuari. A subsequent collision between the latter pair promoted the Spaniard to fifth but caused the New Zealander to drop down to last, and more drama was provided by Walker and Mortara simultaneously crashing out of the race at different parts of the circuit, bringing out the safety car for a second time.
When the action got underway again, the leading quartet of Baguette, Molina, Pic and Alguersuari still needed to pit, whilst further down the order di Sabatino, Barba, Leal, Chris Van der Drift (Epsilon Euskadi) and Michael Herck (Interwetten) had all done so prior to the safety car's intervention, leaving them all-of-a-sudden and somewhat unwittingly in the pound seats.
The stops dropped long-time leader Baguette to sixth ahead of Saturday winner Fairuz Fauzy in the Mofaz Fortec entry and Pic, but Molina was even more unfortunate still, following countryman Martinez into retirement with a faulty accelerator sensor. The latter, though, remains at the top of the title standings – albeit now tied on points with Baguette – and with the greater tally of three wins to his credit in 2009 it will be the Pons Racing man who gets to drive in the ING Renault F1 Team exhibition in the next meeting at Silverstone.
“From 15th place on the grid, I never dreamt of winning here,” acknowledged a surprised di Sabatino afterwards, “but we took perfect advantage of events. I've been working towards this success for some time. I was a little bit fortunate today, but we were quick. It's a big moment for me and I want to thank all my team.”
“It's a good weekend with two podium finishes,” added Barba, now up to eighth in the chase for the crown. “That's a handful of points on the board. I was lucky today, but that makes a change from the start of the season!”
“I'm really happy, and lucky too,” reflected Leal, who prior to this weekend had not troubled the scorers in 2009. “Refuelling early was the right strategy today, because when the safety car came out, that helped us. I really fought to hold onto third place.”
To see the race result in full, click here