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“GP3 Series: Koiranen GP sign Vainio, Korjus and Kujala”

February 12, 2013

© GP3 Media Services.

© GP3 Media Services.

Fledgling GP3 Series squad Koiranen GP yesterday announced their complete line-up for the 2013 season.

With impressive Finn Aaro Vainio already on board, the Barcelona-based squad made their intentions clear, by bringing ex-Formula Renault 3.5 racer Kevin Korjus to the team.

Spanish teenager Patrick Kujala stays with Koiranen GP after having raced with them in Formula Renault Alps and French Formula 4.

This is certain to be a key season for Vainio, who has already spent two years in the GP3 Series category.
Vainio only won once in 2012 {note 1} with the Lotus GP team, Vainio proved a consistent runner, finishing in the points in twelve of the first thirteen races, making him a key title protagonist.
However a difficult final two rounds at Spa and Monza conspired to drop the 19-year-old to 4th in the points standings, behind Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt and eventual champion Mitch Evans.
Following the GP3 season break-up, Vainio competed in three Formula Renault 3.5 Series rounds with Team RFR later on in 2012, grabbing three points finishes, including a podium at Barcelona.

For Korjus, 2013 will signal a return to Koiranen GP. The Estonian won the Formula Renault Eurocup with the team in 2010, but following a relatively impressive opening season in Renault 3.5 in 2011 {note 2}, the 20-year-old struggled to find a rhythm through 2012.
It must be admitted that Kujala is something of a mystery to me. Spells in Renault Alps and French Formula 4 means that I have seen him race at Spa-Francorchamps {note 3} and Pau, but the results of those races draw an absolute blank.

According to Koiranen GP team boss Afa Heikkinen, “entering GP3 series is a major challenge for us, but we are confident we can do the job. We have the right people and good drivers, I believe we can challenge front runners in the course of the season. However, we have no illusions, we know it won’t be easy.”

Outside of Koiranen GP, Swiss racer Patric Niederhauser has re-signed with Jenzer Motorsport for another go at the GP3 Series. Niederhauser took two wins and two podiums of his way to 7th in the points last year, but this year is aiming solidly for the title.
Watch out for Niederhauser – he is a former Formula Abarth Italia champion and can be bloody quick. During the middle of last year, I had a brief chat with the 21-year-old – read it here.

{note 1}
Vainio won the GP3 Series Feature Race at Monaco in 2012 – a feat he will, sadly, not be able to repeat this year.

{note 2}
In 2011 Korjus claimed three wins and another podium in the opening half of the season with Tech 1 Racing, but a raft of retirements and a drop of form demoted the Estonian to 6th in the standings at season’s end.
Again with Tech 1 last year, a single podium would suffice before moving to Lotus Charouz for the final three rounds, where an extension of disappointing results dropped Korjus to 10th overall.

{note 3}
I am ashamed to say that Kujala won when I saw French F4 race at Spa-Francorchamps in 2011, but I have absolutely no memory of what appears to have been his only car racing victory so far in his career.
All that comes to mind about the Renault Alps race at Pau is a a whole bunch of brilliantly controlled chaos, eventually won by Norman Nato and Paul-Loup Chatin. It was fantastic.

2013 GP3 Series Grid (as of February 12th) 
Lotus GP       – Jack Harvey; two seats remaining. 
MW Arden       – Carlos Sainz Jr, Daniil Kvyat, Robert Visoiu. 
Carlin         – Eric Lichtenstein; two seats remaining. 
Jenzer         – Samin Gomez Briceno, Patric Niederhauser; one seat remaining. 
Marussia Manor – no confirmed drivers. 
Status GP      – Jimmy Eriksson; two seats remaining. 
Atech CRS      – no confirmed drivers. 
Trident        – David Fumanelli, Emanuele Zonzini; one seat remaining. 
Koiranen       – Patrick Kujala, Aaro Vainio, Kevin Korjus.
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