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Will Stevens stormed to his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory at the season opener in Monza.

Winning race one, the series veteran capitalised on the troubles of pole-sitter, Carlos Sainz Jr who was forced to start from the pit lane following a suspected gearbox issue. Outpacing rookie Luca Ghiotto at the start, the Caterham Racing Academy driver dominated to lead from the front.

Rookies, Roberto Merhi and Pierre Gasly were surprise additions to the podium. Gasly fought off a fast-finishing Will Buller in the closing stages forcing the British racer to settle for fourth. Nikolay Martsenko was also closing in the final moments but finished down in the fifth in the sole Comtec model.

Racing Steps Foundation's Oliver Rowland improved on a disappointing qualifying to sit sixth. The Fortec Motorsport driver gained ten positions through determined overtaking manoeuvres on his race d?but. Marlon Stockinger was part of much of the action throughout the race and saw the chequered flag in seventh. Despite his best efforts, the Filipino was unable to overtake a defensive Rowland.

Sauber F1 test driver, Sergey Sirotkin, Zoel Amberg and Meindert Van Buuren completed a competitive top ten.

Meanwhile, a promising morning turned into a difficult race for rookie, Luca Ghiotto who dropped down the order from his third place grid slot following an error at the start. The Italian finished down in sixteenth in front of his home crowd.

A crash six minutes into the race significantly changed the standings as Marco Sorensen and Jazeman Jaafar clashed in dramatic fashion. Both drivers walked away from their cars seemingly unharmed and the incident is to be investigated by the stewards post-race. They were two of six overall retirements from the race.

Race two on Sunday could be a chance at redemption for Sainz Jr, Sorensen and Jaafar as the season gets under way in Monza. All twenty-one drivers will return to the track in the morning for the second qualifying session of the weekend.



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