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Pentus on right track for Aragon win

19 April 2010


Motorland Aragón had a decidedly Estonian feel to it on Sunday night as, following on from Kevin Korjus' win in the Formula Renault Eurocup, countryman Sten Pentus took the honours in race two of the World Series by Renault weekend.

The key to the Fortec Motorsport driver's success was perfect race strategy, allowing him to take victory ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing), although the Australian leaves Spain on top of the standings after two podium finishes.

After a soaking on Saturday, conditions were still fairly wet for the second qualifying session of the weekend but, with the track gradually drying out, the last flying lap was always likely to be decisive. Sure enough, Ricciardo made it count, driving a perfect lap to take his second consecutive pole, while Pentus, Jan Charouz {P1 Motorsport} and Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing) also made the right call with second, third and fourth places.

The weather had turned fine by race time, with the teams having changed their cars from the mandatory low aero configuration of Saturday and prepared race two, with its compulsory two-tyres change between laps 5-15. Ricciardo got off to a good start as the lights went out but, as happened in race one, his rivals got the better of him at turn one, with Pentus and Charouz getting through in first and second.

Behind them, Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) has somehow transformed twelfth on the grid into fourth on the road, ahead of Federico Leo (Pons Racing), who promptly succumbed to the attacks of Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport). They had no answer to the leading trio, however, as Charouz, Pentus and Ricciardo pulled away.

There was still plenty of action in the wake of the lead group as, while Costa was solid in fourth, Leo and Grubmuller took turns to overtake each other, with the former eventually coming out on top. The race order then stayed put until Costa initiated the spate of pit-stops.

Charouz followed suit on the next lap, giving the lead to Pentus, who had Ricciardo breathing down his neck. The two strung together a handful of quick laps before pitting for their tyre change. Ricciardo stopped ahead of Pentus, but the Tech 1 team lost time in the pits, allowing the slicker Fortec crew to get its Estonian driver out ahead, not only of the Australian, but also Charouz, leaving Ricciardo still in third place, but having lost ground.

The Australian driver then found himself at the front of a compact group consisting of Costa, Leo, Nathanael Berthon (International Draco Racing), Grubmuller and Tech 1 team-mate Brendon Hartley. Berthon was on something of an overtaking spree and, having worked his way into the group, quickly got past Leo and Costa, before finally finishing fourth, a few seconds behind Riccciardo.

“Tonight I lead the championship and, after winter testing was disturbed by a number of things, it is mission accomplished," the Australian admitted, "I was hoping to make a reasonably good start and leave here in the top three. Scoring points is important, but now I need to work on my starts. At the moment, that's my weak point...”

Up front, Pentus managed to pull away from Charouz and, at the chequered flag, was a comfortable winner.

“I've made progress during the winter - I know the car better, and we've done a lot of work, and this win today is a reward for all that," the Estonian commented, "There's still a long way to go to get to the highest level, but we're on the right track. We went for the right race strategy, and it's been a good day for us.”

Having lost the lead, however, Charouz's day was to get worse as he was excluded on account of a technical non-compliance with Article 22.14 of the sporting regulation, which requires cars to carry no less than three litres of unused fuel reserve in the parc ferme. Berthon was thus promoted to the final podium spot, while a surprise second place cemented Ricciardo's place at the top of the standings.

"Obviously, it's shame, but it also belongs to the racing sometimes," Charouz's manager and father, Antonin, sighed, "The most important for us is that, on the track, Jan performed very well and was able to fight for podium positions. We have to put it behind us and concentrate on next races.“


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