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Jousse takes Tech 1 closer to title
1 January 1901
Julien Jousse finally claimed his first World Series by Renault victory of the season after a colourful race in Barcelona, and allowed Tech 1 Racing to inch closer to retaining the teams' title.
The French driver, tipped as a title favourite at the start of the year, overcame a damp Circuit de Catalunya to finish ahead of Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin and Robert Wickens.
Even though the track was still wet in parts, all drivers opted for slick tyres at the start of the race, but it wasn't a good idea for everyone as Salvador Duran - so collected in fully wet qualifying earlier in the day - was caught out during the formation lap. The Mexican lost control of his Interwetten.com car at the entrance to the pit-lane and hit the wall, taking him out of the race before it had even begun.
Fortec's Fairuz Fauzy was best positioned to take full advantage of the reverse grid, but both the Malaysian and fellow front row starter Marco Bonanomi were surprised as Aleshin burst into the lead from row three, with the second Fortec car of James Walker and Jousse also making good getaways.
Jousse then made the most of a collision between Fauzy and Miguel Molina to sneak in to third spot, while a second collision, between home favourites Marcos Martinez and Alvaro Barba saw the former eliminated on the spot and the safety car deployed to clear his car.
When the action resumed, Aleshin held onto his lead, running ahead of Bonanomi and Jousse, as two of the pre-race favourites found themselves sidelined by technical problems. Bertrand Baguette had only just grabbed fourth spot when he ground to a halt with an axle problem, while fastest qualifier Esteban Guerrieri was forced to retire with gearbox maladies.
With the pressure from behind eased, the battle for victory looked set to be between Aleshin, Bonanomi and Jousse, who continued to run as a train out front. Behind them, Wickens had moved into fourth, with Filipe Albuquerque and Fabio Carbone pushing a second train into contention.
Just as Wickens closed the gap, Bonanomi drew level with Aleshin on the start-finish straight, but clipped the rear of the Russian's car and was sent into a spectacular multiple roll that saw him clip a marker pole at the end of pit-lane before coming to rest a long way beyond the exit. Bonanomi, fortunately, was unharmed in what was his third accident of the weekend, but the safety car was again called into action to slow the pace during the recovery period.
Unaffected by the contact with Bonanomi, Aleshin once again took control as the race resumed - "when I saw the state of Marco's car, I was shocked because I had only felt a slight impact at the rear," the Russian confirmed - but he was still coming under pressure from behind, and eventually handed first place to Jousse as he locked up on the next lap.
Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Jousse maintained his concentration to the end, finally taking a long-awaited first win of the year, and moving back into second spot in the standings as a result. Even though the championship has already been decided in favour of the absent Giedo van der Garde - the Dutchman trying his hand in GP2 Asia - the battle for second continues to rage between Jousse and Carbone, the Brazilian finishing fifth in the race.
“I have been waiting a long time for this victory, and it feels good, especially as it's important for the team and driver standings," Jousse admitted, "I saw Bonanomi's roll and was scared that he would crash into me, but I then took advantage of a mistake by Aleshin…and the end of the race was a lot calmer.”
Between the contenders, a brake-affected Aleshin held off repeated attacks from Carlin colleague Wickens to claim second spot, while Albuquerque claimed fourth. Alvaro Barba, James Walker, Charles Pic - despite not having set a qualifying time - Alexandre Marsoin and Duncan Tappy rounded out the top ten.
“Carlin Motorsport prepared the cars well today," Wickens confirmed, "After the first safety car, I didn't think that I would do any better than fourth place, but I quickly caught up with the leading group. I did everything I could to overtake, but I had to make do with third place.”