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Wickens Celebrates First World Series Victory at Spa

Canadian Takes Formula Renault 3.5 Series Points Lead

Canada’s Robert Wickens celebrates his Race 1 victory at Spa-Francorchamps. Photo by CarlinCanada’s Robert Wickens celebrated his first victory of the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season this weekend as the Toronto racer proved to be a dominant force in Round 2 hosted at the renowned Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium. 

Saturday’s victory, from pole position, was followed up on Sunday with the Carlin entrant taking another podium finish, Wickens placing second to team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.  Robert’s commanding performances elevate the 2010 GP3 Series Runner-up into the championship lead on 71 points, with a total of three podiums and two poles earned from the first two double-header rounds of the pan-European ‘World Series by Renault.’

The 22-year-old’s weekend started faultlessly with Wickens comfortably in control of Saturday morning’s qualifying session. A best lap of 2m02.855s around the 7km circuit captured the pole position by over a tenth of a second from Spain’s Albert Costa.

Saturday afternoon’s 22-lap charge witnessed a faultless drive from the Marussia Motors-backed Canadian as he led off the line.  While the other 25 drivers gave chase, Robert showcased his mastery of the famed drivers’ circuit, leading every lap of the race and underlining his speed by setting the fastest lap along the way. At the checkered flag Wickens led-home a Carlin 1-2 finish with France’s Jean-Eric Vergne in second and front-row starter Costa taking third.

Sunday morning’s Race 2 qualifying session produced a third place effort from Robert, with his team-mate Vergne on the pole accompanied by Italy’s Daniel Zampieri. The afternoon’s race proved to be a more eventful outing with Wickens quickly up into second on the first lap having passed Zampieri into the La Source hairpin.

Chasing down Vergne but with no clear opportunity to pass, Robert executed his mandatory pit-stop on the sixth tour and dutifully assumed the lead of the race when Vergne’s own stop, a lap later, proved to be marginally slower. From there the two Carlin racers were locked in an exclusive battle for the win. The Canadian ultimately lost the lead to his team-mate five laps from the finish after his French rival made his move around the outside at Les Combes.

Locking-up to avoid a potential crash, Robert surrendered P1 but successfully held on to second place despite the state of his now flat-spotted, and deteriorating tires.  With the top-two reversed from the previous day’s race, Vergne and Wickens celebrated a Carlin sweep while New Zealand’s Chris Van der Drift rounded out the podium.

“Well I’d have liked two wins from the weekend but I’m naturally happy to have taken the points lead here in Belgium,” stated Wickens.  “We’re in a good championship position although it’s still early in the season. That said, I like to lead from the front so we have to keep the momentum on our side and build on what’s been a great weekend at Spa. Yesterday’s result was obviously fantastic!  I thought things were looking good today also but I might have pushed too hard as my tires seemed to go off quickly and I lost rear grip.  Second is fine, I’ll take the points!”

Round 3 of the ‘World Series by Renault’ heads to Italy and the historic Autodromo Nazionale Monza – home of the Italian Grand Prix, Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th May.  For further information on the World Series by Renault please log on to: www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

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