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2011 GP3 Round of Turkey (Rd 1, Race 1, May 7th)

May 9, 2011

Holland’s Nigel Melker got his 2011 GP3 campaign off to a dream start at Istanbul on Saturday.

The RSC Mucke pilot jumped straight into a commanding lead from the second row of the grid, following a sluggish start by poleman Tom Dillmann (Carlin).

Dillmann was also passed neatly into the first turn by fellow front row habitant, Andrea Caldarelli, with Lotus-ART contender, Valtteri Bottas fending off Antonio Felix da Costa to assume 4th place. With Dillmann out in front, Caldarelli struggled to challenge, yet was not truly challenged himself.
It was not as easy a run for Dillmann – as he fell away from Caldarelli, da Costa faded somewhat, leaving Bottas to charge hard right up to the flag, giving Dillmann much to think about come Saturday evening.

The leading five remained so for the distance, with much of the action coming in the lower points positions – much of which was provided by the MW Arden’ Mitch Evans and Lewis Williamson.
The duo battled hard for 6th early on, but it was a battle that came to nought for Williamson. A hasty move into turn 12 around the outside of Evans, would see the 21-year-old spin gently into the run off area.

A second collision in turn twelve would see Williamson’s luck run out. Come the fourth tour, the MW Arden man was running alongside Leonardo Cordeiro (Carlin), when the pair clashed, sending the damaged Cordeiro into a slight spin.
Williamson, tripped up by turn 12’s shallow gravel trap, was flipped onto his rollbar, bringing out the safety car instantly for a short period. Thankfully, both emerged unscathed.

Also on Evans’ trail was Alexander Sims. The Briton had initially qualified 2nd, only to receive a ten-place penalty later. Sims battled his way back into contention for 6th, spending much of the race swapping positions with the young Kiwi – eventually to be decided in Evans’ favour.

Sims would lose another spot before the race was done. With his pace deteriorating, both Dean Smith (8th, Addax) and Michael Christensen (9th, RSC Mucke) closed in.
It would culminate in a three-way battle on the final lap, only resolved as the trio clattered their way through the last set of turns. As they filtered out, Christensen secured 7th ahead of both Sims and Smith.
With 8th place confirmed, Sims took the final point and guaranteed pole for the second race of the weekend. For his troubles, Smith took home 9th and no points.

Some way behind, Gabby Chaves came home 10th after starting on the eighth row. For a time, it appeared as if Rio Haryanto would occupy 11th, only to be scuppered by a slow puncture late on.

Outside the top dozen, Nick Yelloly started 22nd following a post-qualifying penalty – at the end of fifteen laps, the ATECH CRS runner came home 13th.
James Calado got off the line poorly, dropping from 5th to 20th by turn one – he would cross the line 17th.
Race Rating: 2 out of 5

2011 GP3 Round of Turkey (Rd 1, Race 1)
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
 1.  Nigel Melker            RSC Mucke   28m13.773s (15 laps)
 2.  Andrea Caldarelli       Tech 1        + 0.605s
 3.  Tom Dillmann            Carlin        + 2.942s
 4.  Valtteri Bottas         ART           + 3.840s
 5.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Status        + 4.410s
 6.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden      + 7.214s
 7.  Michael Christensen     RSC Mucke    + 10.608s
 8.  Alexander Sims          Status       + 11.713s
 9.  Dean Smith              Addax        + 11.928s
10.  Gabby Chaves            Addax        + 19.559s
11.  Nico Muller             Jenzer       + 23.673s
12.  Zoel Amberg             Atech CRS    + 24.192s
13.  Nick Yelloly            Atech CRS    + 24.977s
14.  Ivan Lukashevich        Status       + 26.180s
15.  Aaro Vainio             Tech 1       + 26.354s
16.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Tech 1       + 27.239s
17.  James Calado            ART          + 27.507s
18.  Matias Laine            Manor        + 29.871s
19.  Simon Trummer           MW Arden     + 30.222s
20.  Dominic Storey          Addax        + 30.644s
21.  Conor Daly              Carlin       + 31.336s
22.  Pedro Nunes             ART          + 32.066s
23.  Maxim Zimin             Jenzer       + 53.931s
24.  Adrian Quaife-Hobbs     Manor      + 1m03.096s
25.  Vittorio Ghirelli       Jenzer         + 1 lap
Retirements:
     Rio Haryanto            Manor          13 laps
     Luciano Bacheta         RSC Mucke       8 laps
     Leonardo Cordeiro       Carlin          3 laps
     Lewis Williamson        MW Arden        3 laps
     Marlon Stockinger       Atech CRS       1 laps

Pos Driver Team Points
 1.  Nigel Melker            RSC Mucke    10
 2.  Andrea Caldarelli       Tech 1        9
 3.  Tom Dillmann            Carlin        8
 4.  Valtteri Bottas         ART           5
 5.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Status        4
 6.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden      3
 7.  Michael Christensen     RSC Mucke     2
 8.  Alexander Sims          Status        1
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