It was the New Zealander’s day; Mitch Evans claimed the first victory of the 2012 campaign at the Circuit de Catalunya, a circuit the MW Arden driver has a good record at his only other win in GP3 came here back in 2011.
The race was run in glorious weather as the temperatures rocketed up to 28 degrees as the green lights appeared to signify the 2012 year has begun! The start of the race was eventful, with Daniel Abt making a lightning getaway from P7 on the grid to take the lead before turn one ahead of pole man Antonio Felix Da Costa. However, stewards deemed that Abt, Felix Da Costa and Antonio Spavone all made jump starts, and therefore they all received drive through penalties.
There was drama on the first lap after Ethan Ringel and Alice Powell both retired from the race after chaos in the mid pack. Before the penalties were given, Abt had a half second lead over the Portuguese pole sitter, while the Lotus GP duo of Conor Daly and Aaro Vainio dropped back from the front to P5 and P6. Evans and Stockinger made good starts to move into third and fourth on the first lap.
When Abt made his way into the pits to serve his penalty, Carlin’s Felix Da Costa remained out for one further lap until he too lost time and places heading down the pitlane. Abt and Felix Da Costa eventually finished in 13th and 14th.
Evans took over the lead of the race, with Stockinger promoted to second and Vainio in third. Midway through the race, the safety car was deployed after Kevin Ceccon stopped on the circuit in what was deemed a dangerous place. Several laps were run behind the safety car as the Ocean Racing Technology car was cleared away while the pack bunched up ready to go again.
When the race was restarted, there were intense battles further down the field. Aaro Vainio and Patric Niederhauser enjoyed a tussle for the final spot on the rostrum, with the two having some close wheel to wheel action, but the Finn was able to defend his place for the remainder of the race. Conor Daly had to fight off a determined Tio Ellinas in the closing stages and maintained his position. The heat was on for the final points on offer in the top ten, with David Fumanelli and Alex Brundle enjoying a great scrap with the Italian driver managing to keep the Brit’ behind him.
It was MW Arden’s third win in the GP3 Series, with Evans making the best possible start to the racing year pocketing 25 points, finishing just over 2 and half seconds clear of the opposition. Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) in P2 achieved his first ever points in the GP3 Series as well as his first appearance on the podium. Vainio made his second visit onto a GP3 rostrum (his previous time was also here in Spain). Niederhauser in fourth set the fastest laptime of the race with 1:41.440 which earned him two extra points. Matias Laine in P5 also got his first ever points in his GP3 career, ahead of Daly, Ellinas, Robert Visoiu, Fumanelli and Brundle.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Visoiu will start from reverse pole in Race 2 which starts at 09.25 CET tomorrow (Sunday).