Carbone runs rings round rivals
1 January 1901
Fabio Carbone held his nerve to record a second consecutive World Series by Renault victory at the Nurburgring in a race that descended into a two-lap sprint following a late safety car period.
In an eventful race that saw just 14 of the 25 runners reach the chequered flag, Carbone made the most of his front row starting position to assume the lead from the first corner, whereby he wouldn't be headed again.
He was still made to work hard for the win though after seeing an eight-second lead wiped out with six laps remaining when an electrical problem and brief fire sidelined Aleix Alcaraz and led to a safety car period. However, while the restart left him just two nervous laps to fend off his rivals, the Brazilian was still able to eke out a 2.5secs advantage by the finish line.
Getting the jump on pole sitter Fairuz Fauzy from the start, Carbone led around the first few bends, followed by the Malaysian driver, Julien Jousse and Salvador Duran.
There was chaos just behind though when the typically tight funnel into the first bend resulted in casualties. The worst news was for Prema and Comtec though, as both of their cars retired straight away. Alvaro Barba was a main component of the incident as he speared into team-mate Miguel Molina, the resulting bunch-up causing Marco Bonanomi to hit Charles Pic who, in turn, caught out the following Pasquale di Sabatino and Robert Wickens. Only Wickens would get going again, albeit a lap down.
There was further drama on the restart too, when James Walker, who was up to tenth, went off at turn three. His retirement left the order as Carbone in the lead, followed by Fauzy, Jousse, Duran, Esteban Guerrieri – up from 14th on the grid – Giedo van der Garde, Mikhail Aleshin, Bertrand Baguette, Pablo Sanchez and Alexandre Marsoin.
Jousse was the next to fall, the Frenchman's attempts at passing Fauzy for second at turn seven causing him to spin into retirement and promote Duran up to third.
The Mexican driver would slip down to fifth though, when he was forced wide on lap ten whilst pressuring Guerrieri, giving the Ultimate driver a shot at joining his team-mate on the podium. That pleasure would be denied by van der Garde, however, who overtook the Argentine on lap 13. Duran, meanwhile, dropped further back to eighth when his attempts to follow van der Garde through delayed him again.
Up front, Carbone was looking more than comfortable in the lead, while Fauzy too had placed a nice buffer between himself and van der Garde as the race entered the final stages. However, the arrival of the safety car to clear up Alcaraz's incident threatened to raise interest again for the last few laps.
Nonetheless, Carbone would not let it affect his concentration as the top three remained as they were. Interestingly, the result marks a 1-2-3 result for British teams in the order of Ultimate Motorsport, Fortec Motorsport and P1 Motorsport.
"The car is perfect since Hungary," Carbone commented, "I made a mistake in the SuperPole, I could have done better, but I took the lead at the first corner, then I just drove. This win will have an important effect on the rest of the season."
Guerrieri made it a great day for Ultimate as they surge up into team title contention, while fifth place fell to Mikhail Aleshin following a very quiet race. There was further action involving Duran though, as he tagged Baguette on the last lap, causing the Belgian to lose time. Duran would eventually snare sixth, with Interwetten team-mate Sanchez eighth, sandwiching an embittered Baguette in seventh.
"I was lucky at the start," points leader van der Garde admitted, "Pic came up on my left, then there were cars going everywhere. I put the car in neutral and managed to avoid them. The car was running very well and things took care of themselves - Jousse made a mistake, Duran made a mistake, Guerrieri made a mistake…"
Pippa Mann was rewarded for keeping her car pointing in the right direction when many others couldn't for her best ever World Series result in ninth, while Claudio Cantelli claimed his maiden point in tenth.
In the overall standings, van der Garde has stretched his lead out to an almost unassailable 50 points, with Jousse hanging onto second, albeit by just a single point over the in-form Carbone.