Jean-Eric Vergne achieved a stylish victory in Spa-Francorchamps' second World Series by Renault race for Formula Renault 3.5 cars.
The Frenchman led home the second Carlin 1-2 sweep of the weekend, but unlike Saturday's opening race, Vergne and teammate Robert Wickens raced wheel-to-wheel. Indeed, there were several anxious faces on the Carlin pitwall when Vergne executed a committed pass for the lead on Wickens at Les Combes on lap 17.
Starting from third, Wickens had passed front row man Daniel Zampieri into the La Source hairpin away from the line, before harrying poleman Vergne over the early laps.
Unable to find an opening, Wickens opted to make an early mandatory tire change on lap six and swiftly made his fresh rears tires count. Vergne emerged from his own, 6.4-second, stop a lap later in time to see the Marussia-liveried car flash past on the exit of La Source.
"I thought, 'Oh no, it's going to be like yesterday. Another boring race behind Robert where I can't overtake,'" said Vergne. "Then I started to push and thought I had a chance."
Vergne claimed the lead around the outside at Les Combes, leaving Wickens to lock up both front wheels to ensure contact was avoided. Despite bad vibrations from his flat-spotted tires, Wickens held off an inspired Chris van der Drift to take second by 0.7sec.
Van der Drift's progress was aided by a 4.9sec pit stop from his Mofaz crew, but the Kiwi still produced a commendable effort considering the last-minute nature of his deal had forced him to miss the preseason tests.
Zampieri led briefly in the pit stop phase, but the BVM Target racer arguably stayed out for too long before pitting. The Italian effectively dropped from third to sixth, and was forced to produce some on-track overtaking to recover lost ground. On lap 19, Zampieri took fifth from P1 Motorsport's Walter Grubmuller at Les Combes, and wrestled fourth from Albert Costa at the same spot on the last lap.
Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay had a commendable drive from 25th to 15th in difficult circumstances. Making his first appearance in the series with Pons, the Frenchman was neither familiar with Spa before, nor had he raced a single-seater with carbon brakes before. Teammate Oliver Webb raced with an injured hand, a legacy of a collision with Sten Pentus in race one.
Draco's Stephane Richelmi retired following an accident with Charouz-Gravity's Jan Charouz on the run down to La Source. The latter was able to continue.
Brazilian Cesar Ramos was affected with similar symptoms to the bug that ruled out his compatriot Andre Negrao from taking part in race one. Fortec's Ramos was knocked into a spin at La Source on lap one and later retired after contact with BVM Target's Sergio Canamasas.
Results - 25 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 46m56.662s
2. Robert Wickens Carlin + 1.468s
3. Chris van der Drift Mofaz + 2.173s
4. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target + 7.153s
5. Albert Costa EPIC + 8.434s
6. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 8.784s
7. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 9.183s
8. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 9.419s
9. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 11.808s
10. Nelson Panciatici KMP + 12.602s
11. Andre Negrao Draco + 17.960s
12. Arthur Pic Tech 1 + 26.870s
13. Daniil Move P1 + 30.199s
14. Sten Pentus EPIC + 31.071s
15. Jean-Karl Vernay Pons + 38.251s
16. Nathanael Berthon ISR + 42.377s
17. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 42.730s
18. Oliver Webb Pons + 46.859s
19. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP + 48.245s
20. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 56.088s
Stephane Richelmi Draco 17 laps
Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 14 laps
Cesar Ramos Fortec 14 laps
Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 10 laps
Daniel de Jong Comtec 9 laps
Kevin Korjus Tech 1 0 laps