Korjus is main man at Monza
The fast track at Monza is often conducive to epic racing and the first race of the weekend in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series was no exception. Despite a big scare with a poorly executed braking maneuver, Kevin Korjus (Tech 1 Racing) showed great maturity for his 18 years to go on to pick up his second win in the discipline. After starting 11th on the grid, Jean-Eric Vergne (Carlin) made a heroic charge to get back up to second place and take the championship lead, while Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) took the 3rd place on the podium.
After a crazy qualifying session, with seventeen cars in the same second, Cesar Ramos (Fortec Motorsport) claimed his second pole position of the season, clocking an average speed of over 216 kph on his fastest lap. Already twice pole-sitter at the Monza circuit, once in Italian Formula Renault 2.0 in 2009 and again in Italian F3 in 2010, the Fortec Motorsport Brazilian driver, and reigning Italian Formula 3 champion, once again proved that this circuit suits him down to the ground! Daniel Ricciardo (ISR), initially second in qualifying, saw all of his lap times deleted due to a non-conformity with the fitting of the under-floor skirts on his car. The Australian driver had to line up at the back of the grid.
At the green light, Cesar Ramos got off to the best start and was first into turn 1 ahead of Kevin Korjus, who had charged through from the second row. In third place, Carlin’s Robert Wickens held off Daniil Move and Sergio Canamasas (BVM Target). From 11th place on the grid, Jean-Eric Vergne was already up in sixth after two laps.
Race leader Ramos couldn’t shake off the rest of the pack though. Ramos, Korjus, Wickens, Move, Canamasas and Vergne all remained wheel to wheel until Sergio Canamasas crashed out into the gravel trap.
On lap 5, a hard braking move from Kevin Korjus got him past Cesar Ramos and take control of the race. For Ramos, the task now was to keep Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne at bay, Vergne now up in fourth place, after overtaking Daniil Move. Back in the peloton, there was plenty of action and overtaking, with daring maneuvers from the likes of Chris Van der Drift (Mofaz Racing), Brendon Hartley (Gravity-Charouz) and Daniel Ricciardo.
On lap 9, Wickens and Ramos came together at the first chicane. The Brazilian driver fell well back in the standings while the Canadian grabbed second place, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Move. Chris Van der Drift took advantage of events to get up to 5th after starting 8th.
Despite a firm lead at this point, Kevin Korjus got his braking awry into the first chicane on lap 17 and Robert Wickens took advantage to grab the lead. But a clutch problem put a quick end to the new leader’s hopes, and Korjus took over the leadership, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Move, Chris Van der Drift and Stephane Richelmi. The three leaders stayed in that order under the checkered flag. The end of the race saw strong finishes from Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo. The New Zealander finished fifth, behind fellow countryman Chris Van der Drift. From his start at the back of the grid, Daniel Ricciardo eventually crossed the finish line in 6th place!.
Kevin Korjus: "It was a tough race. I made a very good start and I got past Cesar Ramos very early. But then Robert Wickens came back strong and I made a big mistake that could have cost me dearly. I got my concentration back after that. It's really great to win here, after a difficult weekend in Spa.”
Jean-Éric Vergne: "Everyone was a bit edgy out here. So I opted to stay calm and wait for things to happen. We changed pretty much everything on the car after qualifying! The team did a great job to prepare me a good car. I move into the lead in the championship, so it's a very good job done."
Daniil Move: "We had everything we needed to get good results at Motorland Arag¢n then at Spa-Francorchamps, but we failed to come up with the goods. My engineer shook me up before the race today. It was tough out on track because my tires were in a bad way, but I'm happy with the result. My season will really take off from today I hope!"
Race 1 Results
||Chris van der Drift
||Daniel de Jong
||DNF 24 laps|
||DNF 19 laps|
||DNF 18 laps|
||DNF 8 laps|
||DNF 7 laps|
||DNF 3 laps|