Hanley wins race of attrition
1 January 1901
Ben Hanley has broken his World Series by Renault victory duck in style at a wet and rainy Magny-Cours following a race of attrition that saw less than half the field even reach the finish line.
Although on paper it is Hanley's second World Series win having been gifted a victory at Misano last year several months down the line, it is the first time Hanley has had the honour of crossing the line first on the road – and he did it with a 18 second margin over his nearest competitor.
With just 14 drivers finishing – and only 11 of those on the same lap -, the race was an intense one, the wet weather conditions consistently catching drivers out over the course of the 24 lap duration. However, crucially for Hanley's title hopes, Alvaro Parente was not one of the victims, although with the Portuguese driver finishing sixth, his championship lead has been reduced to just eight points.
A sodden circuit greeted the drivers as they prepared for the start of the race, but despite the treacherous conditions, the start was relatively even with few dramas. Only Fortec's Esteban Guerrieri failed to make it round once after colliding with Filipe Albuquerque – although the Portuguese driver lasted just a lap longer before retiring himself.
Up at the front, Clivio Piccione made a good enough start to lead from pole position, closely followed by Hanley, Marco Bonanomi, Davide Valsecchi, Giedo van der Garde, Parente, Fairuz Fauzy and Milos Pavlovic.
Aided by a clear circuit ahead, Piccione began to pull away from the rest of the field, save for Hanley who was comfortable behind the RC Motorsport car and helping to build a gap back to Valsecchi in third. Piccione's lead however lasted just eight laps when he made a mistake and allowed Hanley through to take a lead he would not lose.
By this point though the retirements list was already bulging, with ten cars out by the 11th lap, most notably Salvador Duran who spun and was hit by Charlie Kimball.
Hanley was having no such problems though, the Brit pitting on lap 12 and emerging back in second place just behind Valsecchi, who was making a lengthy first stint work in his favour. So much so that when the Italian driver did make his pit stop, it brought him out back ahead of Piccione in second place.
And so the order at the front remained, Hanley simply piling the seconds onto his lead to eventually cross the line a dominant 18secs up the road. The result also marks the first win of the season for Prema Powerteam.
"The team did a brilliant job adapting the setup to the track conditions,” he beamed. “I got off to a good start and I stayed focused so as not to make any mistakes. I took it steady on the last few laps.”
Epsilon Euskadi's Valsecchi did a tremendous job to hold onto second place, despite intense pressure from Piccione, the Monegasque driver ruining his chances of making it up to second place when he spun towards the end of the race. Luckily for him, the huge gap back to Pavlovic in fourth allowed him to rejoin in third and as a result claim his first ever World Series podium.
Pavlovic was a quiet fourth, comfortably ahead of van der Garde, the Dutchman putting in another consistent points finish after holding off the advances of Parente in the closing stages.
Carlos Iaconelli and Miguel Molina ensured a double points haul for Pons Racing in seventh and eighth, while the second race will see an all-French front row on home soil after Julien Jousse and Guillaume Moreau snatched the final points paying positions in ninth and tenth.