In the morning, Oliver Rowland scored his second pole of the season with a best lap of 1:28.867 ahead of rookie Egor Orudzhev. Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), Jazeman Jaafar (Fortec Motorsports) and Tom Dillmann (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) rounded the top five qualifiers.
Orudzhev takes the lead
At the start, Egor Orudzhev and Matthieu Vaxiviere overtook Oliver Rowland, who was now third, ahead of Nicholas Latifi (Arden Motorsport) and Roberto Merhi (Pons Racing). The Englishman and Nicholas Latifi managed to pass the Frenchman on the opening lap .While Oliver Rowland was now chasing the race leader, the Canadian had to cope with the pressure coming from Matthieu Vaxiviere.
Five-way battle for the win
Egor Orudzhev resisted the attacks from Oliver Rowland. Behind them, Matthieu Vaxiviere ran side by side with Nicholas Latifi on lap six. Contact between the two led to a puncture for the Arden Motorsport driver. The Frenchman caught up to the leading duo, which was imitated by Roberto Merhi and Tom Dillmann on the following lap.
Despite the attempts of those behind him, Egor Orudzhev kept a cool head and went on for the win ahead of Roberto Merhi, who passed Oliver Rowland in the last corner after he had gotten past Matthieu Vaxiviere. Tom Dillmann rounded out the top five, which was separated by less than two seconds at the line. Dean Stoneman (DAMS) and Aurélien Panis (Tech 1 Racing) were next, ahead of Roy Nissany (Tech 1 Racing) and Beitske Visser (AVF), who scored their first points of the year. Gustav Malja (Strakka Racing) finished 10th, picking up the final point on offer.
Egor Orudzhev : “I think that this was the hardest day of my life ! I got a great start, but throughout the race, I was being pressured by Oliver, who is an excellent driver. It wasn’t easy ! I could see how close he was in my rear-view mirrors, there was no rest and I am completely destroyed, which is something I’ve never felt before ! It is a strange feeling. After two years in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 without winning a race, you ask what’s wrong and maybe you’re not fast enough. In qualifying, the car was extraordinary and the start was really the key. We have the pace to keep this momentum going.”
Roberto Merhi : “The start of the season was difficult and all the changes we made didn’t work until now. We’ve had problems with the car, especially top speed. I told the team that if it continued on, I might as well just stay at home, but they’ve done a fantastic job and it has gone better this weekend. My start could have been better but I had wheelspin. I made the most of the smallest opportunities against Vaxiviere and Rowland to get this second place after starting sixth.”
Oliver Rowland : “I made a mistake with the clutch at the start and I got too much wheelspin. I was able to re-pass Vaxiviere on the first lap, but I was really frustrated with this poor start and I used the DRS too often to close the gap. In catching up to Egor, I thought it would have been better, but it wasn’t the case. It got even worse with Roberto passing me on the last lap.”
Provisional general classification * : 1. O. Rowland – 98 points, 2. M. Vaxiviere – 89 points, 3. J. Jaafar – 75, 4. D. Stoneman – 68, 5. T. Dillmann – 45… *Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications