Mikhail Aleshin took a stunning lights-to-flag victory today at Spa-Francorchamps in the latest round of the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 series, despite suffering from a high fever.
Aleshin, who had secured pole this morning, made a strong start and had opened up a one second lead by the end of the opening lap. The Carlin man then managed to extend his cushion as Sten Pentus, Brendon Hartley and Stefano Coletti lost time squabbling for second.
On lap 5 though, Hartley got the better of Pentus at the Bus Stop and the New Zealander then started to close the gap. 20 minutes from the end of the race Hartley was sat squarely on Aleshin's rear wing and time and again, the Tech 1 man tried to get past, first at the Bus Stop, then at La Source, but the Russian held him off.
Then on lap 16, Hartley was forced out at Pouhon with a mechanical issue and after that Aleshin could pace himself to the finish.
"We've had a perfect start to the season," said Aleshin. "The competition has been intense and we've really had to fight, but it was an perfect day for Carlin and for me. I've been sick for a few days, and this morning I had a temperature of 38.5°C, so I wasn't on top form. But if you're going to win you have to forget about all that!"
Pentus meanwhile inherited the runners-up spot, seven seconds down: "After my win at Motorland Aragon, it's great to follow it with a podium finish," Pentus reflected. "The race was very open at the start, after that it was quite a little calmer for me. But it's never going to be easy here."
Coletti was third, narrowly in front of Albert Costa, while Greg Mansell, Federico Leo, Walter Grubmuller and Jan Charouz filled positions fifth through to eighth.
"After my accident last year, I'm very happy to get my first FR3.5 Series podium here at Spa," Coletti said. "The last few laps with Nebylitskyi and Costa were crazy. My tyres were getting tired, and I made a few little mistakes. They tried to take advantage of me, but I wasn't going to let them!"
Jon Lancaster and Anton Nebylitskiy rounded out the top ten – both dropping down the order due to post-race penalties.