American Conor Daly proudly celebrated with the stars and stripes flag aloft after claiming his first win in the GP3 Series with a faultless display in Race 2 at the Circuit de Catalunya. It was the first podium finish of his GP3 career and he was joined by Robert Visoiu (Jenzer Motorsport) and Matias Laine (MW Arden).
The race started under menacing dark clouds but the rain stayed away for the race with cooler temperatures than yesterday. Reverse Pole man was Visoiu but he was beaten at the start by a fast charging Tio Ellinas from the front row. Unfortunately for the Marussia Manor Racing driver, stewards found him to have made a jump start, therefore Ellinas served a drive through penalty and sacrificed the lead of the race. Carmen Jorda was also given a penalty for making a jump start.
Lap one was eventful with four cars retiring from the race after clashing at turn 4. Dmitry Suranovich, Robert Cregan, Antonio Spavone and Tamas Pal Kiss were all involved in the incident. Mitch Evans also suffered a rear left puncture in a separate incident and had to make a quick dash into the pitlane which cost him valuable positions after victory in yesterday’s opener.
The first few laps were close with Ellinas leading Daly, Visoiu, David Fumanelli and Aaro Vainio. The son of former F1 driver Derek Daly then took over P1 and had a half a second advantage over the Jenzer Motorsport rookie.
Throughout the field there were many fierce battles, the most intense was between William Buller and Kevin Ceccon for P9. It was the Carlin driver who managed to hold off a very determined Italian until the end, with the Ocean Racing Technology driver collecting 2 points however for setting the fastest lap.
Fumanelli was the next driver to pay a visit to the pitlane after being penalised for ignoring yellow flags. The MW Arden driver was in P4 at the time the penalty was given. Lap 12 and Fabiano Machado’s race was brought to a premature end after trying to initiate a pass on Status Grand Prix’s Kotaro Sakurai and the Brazilian spun off into the gravel. There was also a titanic tussle for the final points on offer in the top 8 between Daniel Abt and Alex Brundle.
In the latter part of the 16 lap race, Daly increased his advantage at the front and achieved his debut win by 3.2s over Visoiu with Laine 4.1s behind the race winner. P4 went to Daly’s Lotus GP teammate Vainio, ahead of Patric Niederhauser and Antonio Felix Da Costa (the latter will be investigated after the race for an incident before the start). Abt and Brundle completed the top 8. Visoiu becomes the youngest driver to step onto a GP3 rostrum at just 16 years old (beating a record previously held by Evans).
Evans holds the lead in the GP3 Series standings on 25 points, with Daly and Vainio hot on his heels with 23 points each. GP3’s next stop is Monaco on the 24-26 May when the Series makes its first appearance at the Principality, it’s going to be one to watch!