Miguel Molina has become the youngest driver to win a World Series by Renault race after dominating proceedings in the first event of the weekend at Estoril, Portugal.
The 18-year-old is already one of the youngest drivers in the field, but has shown good form this year to score a pair of podiums at the Nurburgring and Magny-Cours, but his victory in Portugal is by far his crowning glory.
Having inherited second position on the grid after Alvaro Parente was stripped of his pole position, Molina surged into the lead off the front row having dived down the inside of pole sitter Julien Jousse from the off.
However, there was chaos behind when Ben Hanley, getting a good start from third place, tried to follow Molina through past Jousse but instead clipped Parente's car and was sent into a series of barrel-rolls. Although shaken, Hanley was otherwise unhurt by the accident, although it does leave his title hopes looking very slim with only three races remaining.
From here, the race descended into one of a tactical battle as the pit-stop window opened with Molina leading Jousse and Mikhail Aleshin, up from sixth place on the grid. Parente meanwhile was down to eighth place but, significantly, running with no visible damage.
Amongst the first to pit on lap seven were Alvaro Barba and Parente, the latter no doubt keen to get a clean bill of health after being clattered by Hanley's car. Molina followed in on lap 11, with Jousse, Aleshin and Filipe Albuquerque also in for their mandatory stop soon after.
The pit-stop though had done nothing to help Jousse close the gap on Molina, who powered home to cross the line a clear ten seconds up on the Frenchman, who in turn recorded his third podium in as many meetings, rocketing him up to sixth in the standings.
Also the first win in two years for Pons Racing, Molina was delighted to have triumphed in a championship of such calibre given his comparative lack of experience.
“I managed to get past Julien at the start and open up quite a big gap in the space of a few laps. From then on it was a case of trying to keep that advantage… It means a lot to me to have won a race in this championship, because there are a lot of experienced drivers in the field. Hopefully I can do the same again at Barcelona.”
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