FR3.5 » 1 May 2005
WS Zolder 2005: Toccacelo out on his own.
Victory Engineering's Enrico Toccacelo led from start to finish in the first race in the new-look World Series by Renault, claiming the win from fellow series newcomers Andreas Zuber and Robert Kubica.
Toccacelo took full advantage of his pole position to keep the lead at the start and, after two laps, had already established a 2.4secs lead over Zuber, who had started alongside the Italian on the front row. The Austrian, however, was being chased by a group made up of Kubica, Tristan Gommendy, Felix Porteiro – who had made a fantastic start from the sixth row of the grid – Adrian Valles and Christian Montanari.
The first moment of drama had already occurred during the formation lap, when Australian Will Power, fourth in qualifying, was forced out due to transmission failure, but there was more to come as the pack squabbled over positions in the early stages of the 19 lap event.
Spirits were flying especially high behind the leading group, and Jaap van Lagen, Markus Winkelhock, Eric Salignon and Giovanni Tedeschi would all pay for their over-enthusiasm. Winkelhock was forced to abandon on lap four with gearbox failure, leaving Ryo Fukuda, Simon Pagenaud and Patrick Pilet in the slipstream of Draco team-mate Montanari.
With Toccacelo disappearing out front, and Zuber appearing comfortable in second spot, Kubica played a waiting game, anticipating the right moment to move past the Austrian. The gap between the leader and his two main rivals stabilised after eight laps while, not too far behind Kubica, Gommendy continued to lap on his own in fourth position, having shaken off the attentions of the group he had originally run with.
With Spaniards Porteiro and Valles scrapping over fifth, there was little threat to the Frenchman, who gradually moved closer to Kubica, helping to distract the Pole and alleviate some of the pressure that had been building on Zuber.
With the action out front again settling down, it was left to those chasing minor points to provide the excitement, with Montanari and Pagenaud closing up to the all-Iberian battle between Porteiro and Valles. Fukuda continued to run ninth, having been demoted by Saulnier team-mate Pagenaud.
The final incidents of note came when Belgian backmarker Frédéric Vervisch spun his car, stalling it in the middle of the track in the process. DAMS driver Pastor Maldonado, running solo after team-mate Alx Danielsson's ankle-breaking shunt in qualifying, ended his race in the gravel trap, while Ivan Bellarosa's engine broke.
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