Massimiliano Pedala produced a superb drive from seventeenth on the grid to take victory in Round Three of the 2014 Renault Eurocup Clio Championship at the Nurburgring.
A pre-race gamble to run slick tyres proved to be the key to his success, with changing weather conditions playing into his hands as he moved up the order. British racers Alex Morgan and Josh Files were amongst those to lose out on wet rubber.
Morgan had been one of the stars of the show in qualifying earlier in the day, the Renault UK Clio Cup front-runner putting himself second on the grid to make it a one-two for the Rangoni Corse team, with championship leader Oscar Nogues on pole.
Rainfall just prior to the twenty-five minute race left the teams and drivers with a tricky decision between wet and slick tyres, with the majority of the front-runners electing to play it safe with wet tyres.
Nogues, who took both wins on the season opener at Motorland Aragon in April, fended off a challenge from Mikel Azcona at the start to maintain his advantage, and went on to lead the early stages.
His closest challenger quickly became Files, the reigning champion passing Eric Tremoulet, Azcona and Morgan over the course of the opening lap to slot into second.
Before the Brit could challenge Nogues, the front two were overhauled by the first of the slick runners, Tomas Pekar. Moving up from thirteenth on the grid, the Czech racer took the lead on lap five.
Files nipped past Nogues at the first corner on lap six for second, but they were soon shuffled down the order as Pedala, the fastest driver on track by some distance, made his way past later in the lap and started to hunt down Pekar.
A huge slide for Pekar through turn eleven on lap nine gave Pedala the chance he was looking for, the 2013 championship runner-up sliding past with ease to take the lead, which he held to the finish for his first win of the season.
“I had a puncture during qualifying,” commented the victor. “By starting so far back, we decided to take a chance and start on slicks despite the wet conditions. It was not easy early on, but the wager quickly paid dividends. Alas, the other races are difficult and the championship is very close.”
Pekar took his first Eurocup Clio podium in second, while also taking his maiden rostrum finish was Facundo Della Motta. The Argentinian had stalled on the line, but bounced back to set the fastest lap of the race en-route to third.
Della Motta’s Pujola Racing team-mate Renee Steenmetz followed him home in fourth, while a great recovery drive from Russian Nikolay Gryazin saw him finish fifth despite earning an early drive through penalty for not mounting the wheels on his car in the mandatory time prior to the start.
Files was the top of the wet tyred runners in sixth overall, leading Nogues, Azcona and Rafael Villanueva, with Morgan rounding out the top ten after fending off a late challenge from Tremoulet. Former Clio Cup UK racer Finlay Crocker took the flag in seventeenth.
The full race result can be found here: http://www.worldseriesbyrenault.com/IMG/pdf/03_classification_race_1_eurocup_clio-7.pdf