Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser raced to the top of the podium at the Valencia Street Circuit for Race 2 of the 2012 GP3 Series. The Jenzer Motorsport driver started from reverse pole to celebrate a commanding victory, to finish ahead of Lotus GP’s Daniel Abt and Marussia Manor Racing’s Tio Ellinas.
It was Daniel Abt who made the best getaway from third on the grid and he edged past Niederhauser briefly to go P1 down the straight. It was tight between the two with Niederhauser just edging the German driver to regain his lead. Kevin Ceccon (Ocean Racing Technology) dropped to third while Ellinas progressed to P4, passing Matias Laine in the early stages.
It was a dramatic first lap for Conor Daly (Lotus GP), Alice Powell (Status Grand Prix) and John Wartique (Atech CRS GP) as the trio were involved in a crash which made it a premature end for all. The incident will be investigated after the race. Mitch Evans (MW Arden) who is celebrating his 18th birthday today got the better of his championship rival Aaro Vainio (Lotus GP) by sneaking in front of him, whilst David Fumanelli lost several positions to fall down the field.
Marlon Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) went from P19 to P11 after two laps as the action on track hottened up with a massive battle between Alex Brundle, Dmitry Suranovich and Robert Cregan. Carlin’s Antonio Felix Da Costa started his fightback through the field and soon caught up with his teammate William Buller. The Brit locked up and the Portuguese driver dived through on the inside to make his way into the top 8, along with recording the fastest lap of the race and earning himself two extra points.
Meanwhile at the front, Niederhauser maintained his advantage to Abt of 1.5 seconds, with Ceccon and Ellinas further back. The dice between Series rivals Evans and Vainio was back on with the Finn making a sucessful move on the New Zealander, but as the duo caught up with Matias Laine (MW Arden), Vainio overshot his braking point in an attempt to pass his fellow compatriot and in the process lost his place to Evans.
All eyes were on the battle for the final place on the rostrum as the race reached its climax. Ceccon had held P3 for the duration of the race, but Ellinas in determined mood, set his sights on third place. It was a very lively final lap with the Cypriot trying to make his move but the Italian shut the door and Ellinas went wide trying to avoid contact with him and the barrier. The Marussia Manor Racing driver clawed back time and on the final corner of the lap, he was alongside the Ocean car and got through on the inside, the pair making wheel to wheel contact which resulted in Ceccon dropping to P5 as they crossed the line to see the chequered flag.
Niederhauser recorded his debut win, with Abt achieving his personal best result of the Series in P2. Ellinas secured his maiden rostrum in GP3, to finish ahead of Laine, Ceccon, Evans, Vainio and Felix Da Costa.
Evans now has a four point advantage in the Drivers Standings over Vainio, with Abt moving up to third place. MW Arden lead the way in the Teams Standings on 151 with Lotus GP on 139.
Round 4 of the GP3 Series takes place at Silverstone on 6-8 July 2012.