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Victorious start to 2014 for Strakka Racing & Will Stevens with maiden win
Old 12 Apr 2014 20:22
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Britain’s Will Stevens made an outstanding start to the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Strakka Racing at Monza in Italy this afternoon, 12th April, after scorching to a faultless lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of the season.

Marking the maiden ‘World Series by Renault’ triumph for the 22-year-old and Silverstone- based Strakka Racing, Stevens made a sensational getaway to grab the lead on the run to the first corner and never looked back – despite an early Safety Car period – on his way to a dominant 6.8 second win.

Finnish team-mate Matias Laine had an incredibly eventful race in the second Strakka Racing car, ultimately taking the chequered flag in 11th position after a titanic battle at the tail of the top 10 involving half a dozen cars.

“I’m really happy to get the win, my first in World Series,” says Stevens, “The car was mega. We managed to get a good start and controlled the race really well. It’s been a long time coming but we knew we could do it.”

Dominating round one from the outset, Stevens had qualified fourth fastest but a problem for the pole-sitting car of Carlos Sainz Jnr prior to the green flag lap meant the lead Strakka Renault FR 3.5 was effectively third on the grid.

With lightning reactions, the Caterham Racing Academy driver was able to avoid slow-starting rivals ahead and sliced his way through to the lead. After the Safety Car period, Stevens pulled further and further clear of the chasing pack to build an advantage of more than seven seconds into the final lap.

Laine too made a clean start and climbed into the top 10 prior to the cautionary period, which was required after a frightening two-car tangle on the start-finish straight. Being passed when the race was still under Safety Car conditions didn’t help the Finn’s progress, although Marlon Stockinger was later penalised, but he battled superbly to climb as high as eighth during the early running.

Twice having to avoid potential contact when running nose-to-tail in the tightly bunched mid-pack, Laine was elbowed back to 12th place but managed to reclaim 11th into the closing stages with a good pass on Matthieu Vaxiviere into the Rettifilo Chicane – having almost pulled off the same move a lap earlier. Post-race, Laine was elevated into 10th position due to the Stockinger penalty.

“Qualifying was a shame, but the race was good,” says Laine, “I gained quite a few positions off the start but when the Safety Car was out after the big accident, Stockinger passed me. I wasn’t sure what to do so I just had to sit behind him, but in the end we got a championship point. We need to try and qualify better tomorrow as our race pace is really good.”

Round two qualifying at Monza will get underway at 09.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 13th April, with the race itself scheduled to begin at around 12.35 (local time).
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