Polesitter Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first win in the World Series by Renault by leading from start to finish on the streets of Monaco, defying points leader Mikhail Aleshin in the process.
The Red Bull Junior Team-backed Australian got his Tech 1 car off the line smartly, and pulled away from Aleshin (Carlin) and Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) in the early part of the race, with Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing) and Alexander Rossi (ISR) giving chase to the podium places. In a single lap, Ricciardo pulled away to a two-second lead over Aleshin, and continued to extend the gap.
Back in the peloton, Nathanael Berthon (International Draco) was caught out in Mirabeau, while Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing) appeared scruffy several laps in a row through the chicane. However, the long-haired Kiwi eventually got his act together and found a way by Jon Lancaster (Fortec Motorsport) to grab eighth place, before homing in on Filip Salaquarda (ISR).
Ten laps into the race, the gap stabilised between Ricciardo and the battling Aleshin and Costa, with Coletti, Rossi and Sten Pentus some way further back, but comfortably ahead of the Salaquarda/Hartley scrap. After a few looks, the New Zealander finally succeeded in getting the better of the Czech in the run from Casino to Mirabeau on the twelfth lap, the surprise move also allowing Lancaster through.
Now on a spree, Hartley moved into sixth a few laps later, getting past an understeering Pentus, and quickly caught the Coletti/Rossi battle. The Tech 1 driver tried to make another pass and touched Rossi exiting Rascasse but, despite a damaged nose, continued to go all out. The American, a freshman in the discipline this weekend, fought to defend his ground but the pressure from Hartley eventually told, and Rossi made an error and hit the barriers at Casino. This put the Kiwi into fifth place but he wasn't done and, on the last lap, got past Coletti in the Grand Hotel hairpin to finish fourth.
Out ahead, meanwhile, Ricciardo was managing his lead, allowing Aleshin, now free of Costa, to close the gap between them, without ever getting near enough to deny a series rookie victory in Monaco for the third successive year. It was Ricciardo's first win in the discipline, and the third Monaco victory for Tech 1 Racing, while Aleshin and Costa - the Spaniard still struggling with the hand injury that denied him a full pre-season of testing - evaded the charging Hartley to complete the podium.
“I came to Monaco with my family when I was eight - we were able to do a lap of the circuit and I could already describe all the turns," Ricciardo revealed, "but I never dreamt then that, one day, I would win here!
"I got a good start today, didn't look in my mirrors and pushed hard every lap. I've never been congratulated by so many people at the finish of a race. It's my first win, and now I'm going to fight to win the championship.”
Aleshin's second place, however, was enough for the Russian to keep the overall championship lead, albeit with a reduced margin of seven points over Ricciardo.
“It's true I'd like to win all the races, but honestly this is a good result today with a view to the championship," the Carlin man admitted, "It was all decided at the start and, if the straight had been longer, I'd have got past. The thing now is to concentrate on Brno. There's still plenty of the season to go.”