Mikhail Aleshin Strengthens Lead At Magny-Cours In France

03110805 030 aleshin Mikhail Aleshin Strengthens Lead At Magny Cours In FranceCarlin Racing’s Mikhail Aleshin has strengthened his lead Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship with a win at a wet Magny-Cours in France.The talented young Russian star leads ISR’s Sebastian Guerrieri and Comtec Racing’s Stefano Coletti. Guerrieri took advantage of disappointment for Tech 1 Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, Fortec Motorsport’s Sten Pentus and Tech 1 Racing’s Brendon Hartley to carve himself a solid second place in the championship.

Conditions were tough for the drivers s they lined up on a track still wet from a morning of incessant rain. Fortec Motorsport’s Jon Lancaster stalled even before the warm-up lap and had to start from the pits.

The first lap was an exciting one. Guerrieri made the best start and took the lead ahead of Aleshin and Coletti, who started from 11th. Nelson Panciatici and Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 5, while Albert Costa dropped back from second to sixth place. Several drivers retired during the first lap, including Tech 1 Racing’s Brendon Hartley of New Zeland, who was forced to leave his car at the Adelaide hairpin.

Guerrieri and Aleshin continued to push the pace at the start of the race, building up a lead over Coletti who was busy fending off the advances of Panciatici and Ricciardo. On the 6th lap, Panciatici found the opening he needed at Adelaide to squeeze past Coletti and into third The man from Monaco now had to contend with Ricciardo, and Panciatici made the most of a noticeably drier track, gradually catching up with the lead duo which still consisted of Guerrieri and Aleshin. The three drivers were neck and neck 15 minutes into the race. In the chasing pack, Pons Racing’s Daniel Zampieri and Sten Pentus were making steady progress. Having started 16th and 21st respectively, they were now 7th and 8th after seven laps.

Aleshin was steadily chipping away at the leader, looking for an opening, while Nelson Panciatici was lying in wait for both of them. As always, a three-way fight played into the hands of Stefano Coletti, 4th, who caught up with the leaders. On lap 15, Mikhail Aleshin found his chance. Accelerating cleanly away from the Lycée chicane, he took control of the race. At the same time, the positions were changing further back as Daniel Zampieri overtook Costa to move up to 6th.

Once in the lead, Aleshin drove effortlessly to his third win of the season, to reinforce his lead over the championship. Esteban Guerrieri finished second, while Nelso Panciatici handed third place to Stefano Coletti when he failed to take a corner. The Frenchman finished 4th, just ahead of Zampieri. Aleshin and Geurrieir profited from a poor showing by Daniel Ricciardo, 6th, to open the gap in the points further.

It was the start of a good day for Aleshin who also got a chance to drive the Renault F1 car in an exhibition at the track.

“This is an important day for me” he said. “Qualifying didn’t go too well, but my car was great in the race. In terms of the Championship, it couldn’t be better.”

In the other main race of the day, The Megane Trophy, it was a successful day for TDS Racing’s Nick Catsburg.

Catsburg won his second race of the season despite starting on slicks in the wet conditions. The TDS Racing team also scored a one-two thanks to teammate Pierre Thiriet, While Bas Schothorst completed the podium line-up, with Wim Beelend winner of the Gentlemen Drivers.

Catsburg now leads the championship.

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