Alexander Sims surged to his first GP3 victory of 2011 with a commanding performance at Istanbul Park yesterday.
The Status GP pilot crossed the line over 7 seconds clear of nearest rival, RSC Mucke’s Michael Christensen. The podium was filled by fellow RSC Mucke runner (and race 1 winner), Nigel Melker.
Whereas both Sims led away from pole, Christensen suffered something of a sluggish, allowing Antonio Felix da Costa (Status GP) and Mitch Evans (MW Arden) ahead by the end of the opening lap.
It would be seven laps before Christensen retook Evans, made easier by the Kiwi’s destroyed Pirelli rubber and the Dane would make that 2nd with a pass on da Costa five laps from the end.
Melker ‘s task, however, was somewhat more difficult. Starting 8th – the “bonus prize” for winning on Saturday – the Dutch pilot was already 7th by turn one, as he slid passed the lumbering Tom Dillmann (Carlin).
Charging passes on Andrea Caldarelli (lap 2), Valtteri Bottas (lap 5), Evans (lap 7) and da Costa (lap 12) brought Melker to a comfortable podium place.
None would be too surprised should the RSC Mucke pilot may be wishing to have a word with da Costa regarding his defensive moves. Despite weaving heavily across the track on several occasions, the Portuguese runner received no penalty.
Da Costa also used his tough techniques to fend Caldarelli off at the flag. Having wasted his tyres in the early laps, da Costa fell back in the late laps, only holding onto 4th spot by a mere 0.2 of-a-second across the line.
Regardless of da Costa’s antics, Caldarelli should be happy to finish 5th after a feisty run. An ongoing battle with Bottas in the race’s first third, saw the Italian lose touch with the leaders – indeed, it would take six laps for Caldarelli to breeze by Bottas into turn one, as the Finn’s tyres went away.
That became 5th on the eighth tour, as the Tech 1 racer absorbed the struggling Evans.
Sadly for Evans, the points place was on the cards until the final few turns. His Pirelli’s wrecked, the Kiwi could no longer hold off the advances of Dean Smith following a fight lasting nearly five laps.
Indeed Smith himself just missed out on the final point the previous day, but having started 9th, the Englishman was by Dillmann on the grid and Bottas six laps later. His last dash move on Evans rescued his weekend somewhat, especially as he learned the virtues of tyre care.
For Evans and Bottas, there was only disappointment. Having started 3rd and 5th respectively, the pair ran well early on only to fall backwards as the race aged – alas, 7th (Evans) and 8th (Bottas) was the best to be managed.
A special gold star for Rio Haryanto and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs – having started 26th, Haryanto drove a spectacular race to come home 10th at the flag, while Quaife-Hobbs managed 16th after starting on the twelfth row.
Less impressive were Simon Trummer, Aaro Vainio, Matias Laine and Dominic Storey. In the midst of a midfield battle, Trummer mindless attempt of an overtake on Ivan Lukashevich, left the Swiss pilot mired in 21st. Meanwhile Vainio, Laine and Storey attempted to glue eachother together on the first lap, only to find carbon fibre doesn’t mesh well with carbon fibre.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Vittorio Ghirelli pulled out after seven laps with a mechanical problem.
Race Rating: 3.5 out of 5
GP3 Round of Turkey (Rd 1, Race 2) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Alexander Sims Status 27m03.624s (15 laps) 2. Michael Christensen RSC Mucke + 7.406s 3. Nigel Melker RSC Mucke + 13.983s 4. Antonio Felix da Costa Status + 17.667s 5. Andrea Caldarelli Tech 1 + 17.876s 6. Dean Smith Addax + 18.760s 7. Mitch Evans MW Arden + 18.948s 8. Valtteri Bottas ART + 22.792s 9. Tom Dillmann Carlin + 22.951s 10. Rio Haryanto Manor + 27.212s 11. Nick Yelloly Atech CRS + 31.637s 12. Gabby Chaves Addax + 32.829s 13. James Calado ART + 34.111s 14. Zoel Amberg Atech CRS + 35.985s 15. Nico Muller Jenzer + 36.315s 16. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Manor + 36.883s 17. Maxim Zimin Jenzer + 37.400s 18. Tamas Pal Kiss Tech 1 + 37.804s 19. Luciano Bacheta RSC Mucke + 38.419s 20. Lewis Williamson MW Arden + 38.692s 21. Simon Trummer MW Arden + 39.477s 22. Leonardo Cordeiro Carlin + 40.348s 23. Marlon Stockinger Atech CRS + 47.122s 24. Ivan Lukashevich Status + 55.843s 25. Conor Daly Carlin + 57.717s 26. Pedro Nunes ART + 1 lap Retirements: Vittorio Ghirelli Jenzer 7 laps Aaro Vainio Tech 1 0 laps Matias Laine Manor 0 laps Dominic Storey Addax 0 laps Pos Driver Team Points 1. Nigel Melker RSC Mucke 14 2. Andrea Caldarelli Tech 1 11 3. Alexander Sims Status 8 4. Tom Dillmann Carlin 8 5. Michael Christensen RSC Mucke 7 6. Antonio Felix da Costa Status 7 7. Valtteri Bottas ART 5 8. Mitch Evans MW Arden 3 9. Dean Smith Addax 1