Daniil Kvyat (Koiranen Motorsport) gave the fans at the Moscow Raceway plenty to cheer about after making the perfect start and driving a solid race to win on home turf. Powerless to halt the Red Bull Junior Team driver, Stoffel Vandoorne (Josef Kaufmann Racing) had to settle for second as his championship lead was cut to six points. Completing the podium was Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), his best result of the season so far.
Vandoorne picked up where he left off in Friday’s collective testing to record the fastest lap in qualifying and claim his third straight Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 pole. Joining the Belgian on the front row was local boy Kvyat.
And it was the home favourite who made the faster start, jumping past Vandoorne as the lights went out to lead on lap one, with the Belgian, Rowland, Stefan Wackerbauer (Koiranen Motorsport) and Mikko Pakari (Fortec Motorsports) behind him. Before long the safety car was out, as the stricken cars of Nyck de Vries (R-Ace GP), Christof Von Grunigen (Epic Racing), Alexander Albon (Epic Racing) and Yu Kanamaru (KTR), scattered at various points of the track, were cleared.
The tussle between Kvyat and Vandoorne intensified when the race resumed, while Rowland and Wackerbauer battled it out for third behind them. Back down the track the fifth-placed Pakari was doing everything he could to hold off Melville McKee (Interwetten.com), Alex Riberas (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Esteban Ocon (Koiranen Motorsport).
Vandoorne engineered an opening on lap nine only for Kvyat to react immediately and retake the lead. Their thrilling battle gave the chasing Rowland the chance to close up and make it a three-horse race.
Though the action remained intense all the way to the flag, the positions stayed unchanged, Kvyat delighting the home crowd by crossing the line first ahead of Vandoorne and Rowland, whose appearance on the podium was his first of the season. Kvyat’s win, followed by the sounding of the Russian national anthem, takes him to within six points of championship leader Vandoorne.
What they said:
Daniil Kvyat: “It was a tough race and a battle all the way through. Stoffel was quick, quicker than me that’s for sure, but I managed to get the win, thanks in the main to a good start. Winning in Russia obviously feels special for me but the most important thing is to cut Stoffel’s lead. We’re only halfway through the season and it would be ideal to go out and win again tomorrow.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “We gave our all from start to finish, but Daniil managed to get past me right at the start. There’s another qualifying session and race tomorrow so we need to keep on working. I know we’ve got a car that can win and it’s up to me to make the most of it.”
Oliver Rowland: “We struggled a bit at the start of the season, and I don’t really know why because the winter collective testing sessions went pretty well. I’ve feel we’ve been getting back on track since the Nürburgring, and this podium finish is proof of that. I hope to match our expectations by doing even better tomorrow.”