“Evans and Daly take opening GP3 honours in Spain”

© GP3 Media Services.

TV Notes
GP3 season favourites Mitch Evans and Conor Daly stamped their authority on the series opener at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona last week.

Evans – driving for MW Arden – looked quick all weekend, despite tough opposition from his teammates and the Lotus trio, earning the championship lead thanks to Race One victory. Lotus pilot Daly showed his metal with a win on Sunday morning.

There is little doubt that they will spend much of the season facing off, although both must watch out for rivals Aaro Vainio and Matias Laine.
With the Spanish adventure now consigned to history, the series leaders will be looking for victory next week at Formula 1’s jewel event – the Monaco Grand Prix.

Race One (May 12th)
Mitch Evans took the opening GP3 race of the 2012 season from Marlon Stockinger and Aaro Vainio, albeit with a touch luck from rivals Daniel Abt and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Both Abt (Lotus) and poleman* da Costa (Carlin) were penalised for jump-starts, with the former launching himself from 6th to the lead before many had even left their slots. Unsurprisingly, the pair held the lead, before being brought in for drive through penalties on lap seven and eight respectively, dropping them well out of contention.

Evans continued to lead with not much fuss, despite having his initial advantage wiped out by a midrace safety car for a stalled Kevin Ceccon (ORT). The Kiwi pushed on for the final five laps under green, eventually taking the victory by 2.6 seconds.

Status GP’s Stockinger had something of a quiet race. After passing a slow starting Conor Daly (Lotus), the Filipino racer settled in 4th spot behind Evans, rarely looking threatened, nor threatening. That became 2nd when Abt and da Costa were penalised.

Vainio gave Lotus some raceday relief** by completing the podium, albeit under constant pressure from Jenzer’s Patric Niederhauser, while Matias Laine (MW Arden) headed another tight battle across the line, as he pipped Daly and Tio Ellinas* (Manor) to 5th place.
It was a case of what could have been for Daly and Ellinas – a clutch issue at the start for Daly dropped him from 2nd to 8th, while Ellinas drove back from a qualifying penalty that left him on row eight.
Jenzer’s Robert Visoiu took 8th place and the pole for race two – the 16-year-old Romanian nipped across the line ahead of David Fumanelli (MW Arden, 9th) and Alex Brundle (Carlin, 10th).

There was some little carnage on the exit of turn one at the start when Atech CRS racer John Wartique clipped teammate Ethan Ringel who was then innocently hit Alice Powell (Status), taking both Ringel and Powell out of the race. Aside from the leading pair, Trident’s Antonio Spavone*** also jumped the start, pinning him to the far end of the results sheet.

* {note 1}
Da Costa took the first pole of the season, less than a tenth up on Lotus racer’s Daly and Vainio. A late quick lap gave Evans 4th, only just quicker than Stockinger. Ellinas assumed 6th, but was hit with a 10-place grid drop for setting a fast lap under waved yellows.
British F3 graduate Buller spun off on his final lap, ensuring he would start 13th. Ceccon never got a lap at all, after stopping after 5 minutes with a mechanical issue.

** {note 2}
MW Arden and Lotus showed their pace in the first practice session, with Arden’s Laine and Fumanelli slotting into 1st and 2nd, followed by all three Lotus’ headed by Vainio. Evans wound up 6th for Arden.
Manor endured a difficult session, when Ellinas stopped on track with a mechanical issue, followed by further malaise when Machado hit the turn 14 barriers. Trident’s Piria takes a 10-place penalty into qualifying after she set a quick lap under the resulting yellow flags.

*** {note 3}
It is possible Spavone is merely trigger happy from so much racing. The Italian is also competing in the Auto GP World Series, although an indifferent season thus far sees the 17-year-old locked in 10th in the standings, with 25 points.
His best finish thus far is 5th; however Spavone has made 8th his natural habitat after claiming four 8th place finishes in eight races. Former GP3 race winner Adrian Quaife-Hobbs leads the Auto GP World Series with 148 points, following three wins and four podiums.

2012 GP3 Round of Barcelona (Rd 1, Race 1, 16 laps)
Pos  Driver                  Team         Time/Gap 
 1.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden   28m38.738s 
 2.  Marlon Stockinger       Status       + 2.609s 
 3.  Aaro Vainio             Lotus        + 4.594s 
 4.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer       + 5.071s 
 5.  Matias Laine            MW Arden     + 6.284s 
 6.  Conor Daly              Lotus        + 6.941s 
 7.  Tio Ellinas             Manor        + 7.419s 
 8.  Robert Visoiu           Jenzer      + 10.102s
 9.  David Fumanelli         MW Arden    + 11.046s 
10.  Alex Brundle            Carlin      + 11.291s 
11.  Dmitry Suranovich       Manor       + 15.105s 
12.  Tamas Pa'l Kiss         Atech CRS   + 15.752s 
13.  Daniel Abt              Lotus       + 16.231s 
14.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Carlin      + 16.577s 
15.  Robert Cregan           Ocean       + 17.132s 
16.  Fabiano Machado         Manor       + 17.775s 
17.  Antonio Spavone         Trident     + 18.284s 
18.  Kotaro Sakurai          Status      + 19.087s 
19.  Jakub Klasterka         Jenzer      + 19.626s 
20.  Carmen Jorda            Ocean       + 22.224s 
21.  John Wartique           Atech CRS   + 23.070s 
22.  Vicky Piria             Trident     + 32.897s 
23.  William Buller          Carlin      + 46.346s  
     Kevin Ceccon            Ocean          7 laps 
     Ethan Ringel            Atech CRS      0 laps 
     Alice Powell            Status         0 laps

Race Two (May 13th)
Conor Daly grabbed his first GP3 victory with a fine drive last Sunday to finish ahead of Robert Visoiu and Matias Laine.
The American benefitted when original race leader Tio Ellinas was handed a drive through penalty for a jump-start (it was quite blatant); however once ahead, the American guided his Lotus to a clear-cut race win by 3.2 seconds.
Daly – who jumped polesitter Visoiu off the line – faced little opposition once Ellinas took his penalty.

Visoiu, too, drove to the flag to take 2nd with little competition from 3rd place Laine. While the race appeared close on paper (6.6 seconds covered 2nd through 8th place), few opportunities to overtake created a status quo in the field.
In order Aaro Vainio (Lotus) followed Laine across the line in 4th, with Patric Niederhauser a further eight-tenths adrift.
Carlin’s Antonio Felix da Costa wore his tyres almost to the canvas on his way to 6th following a battle with Daniel Abt – a desperate lunge from da Costa surprised both himself and Abt on lap 11, with the pair clashing wheels. Da Costa assumed the position in a rare overtaking manoeuvre.
Alex Brundle moved up the order by taking care of his Pirelli tyres – he challenged Abt late on, but could not force the issue; however 8th spot gave Brundle another point.

William Buller held Kevin Ceccon and Alice Powell off late on for 9th – 11th positions – stellar results considering the trio started 23rd, 24th and 25th respectively.
The trio were helped somewhat when Buller tapped Tamas Pa’l Kiss on the opening lap as they approached turn four, sending the Hungarian out of control and into a crash with the innocent Antonio Spavone and Robert Cregan.
Amidst the spinning and crashing, Dmitry Suranovich spun all by himself in the same corner.

Fabiano Machado also retired, this time on lap 12. The Manor GP racer was being overtaken around the outside of turn one for 12th place, only to scare himself into a race ending spin. Race One winner Mitch Evans suffered a slow puncture in the early laps – the resultant pitstop dropped him to the rear of the field, although he would recover to finish 20th.

2012 GP3 Round of Barcelona (Rd 1, Race 2, 16 laps)
Pos  Driver                  Team          Time/Gap 
 1.  Conor Daly              Lotus       27m21.043s 
 2.  Robert Visoiu           Jenzer        + 3.265s 
 3.  Matias Laine            MW Arden      + 4.168s 
 4.  Aaro Vainio             Lotus         + 4.877s 
 5.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer        + 5.669s 
 6.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Carlin        + 8.688s 
 7.  Daniel Abt              Lotus         + 9.341s 
 8.  Alex Brundle            Carlin        + 9.833s 
 9.  William Buller          Carlin       + 12.090s 
10.  Kevin Ceccon            Ocean        + 12.401s
11.  Alice Powell            Status       + 13.664s 
12.  Kotaro Sakurai          Status       + 16.703s 
13.  John Wartique           Atech CRS    + 21.703s 
14.  Jakub Klasterka         Jenzer       + 25.550s 
15.  Tio Ellinas             Manor        + 28.133s 
16.  Vicky Piria             Trident      + 31.239s 
17.  David Fumanelli         MW Arden     + 31.608s 
18.  Ethan Ringel            Atech CRS    + 37.862s 
19.  Marlon Stockinger       Status       + 38.449s 
20.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden     + 51.421s 
21.  Carmen Jorda            Ocean      + 1m16.560s  
     Fabiano Machado         Manor          12 laps 
     Robert Cregan           Ocean           0 laps 
     Tamas Pa'l Kiss         Atech CRS       0 laps 
     Antonio Spavone         Trident         0 laps 
     Dmitry Suranovich       Manor           0 laps
2012 GP3 Series Drivers’ Championship (Rd 1)
Pos Driver Points
 1. Mitch Evans             25
 2. Conor Daly              23
 3. Aaro Vainio             23
 4. Matias Laine            20 
 5. Patric Niederhauser     20
 6. Marlon Stockinger       18
 7. Robert Visoiu           16
 8. Antonio Felix da Costa   6
 9. Tio Ellinas              6
10. Daniel Abt               4

2012 GP3 Series Teams’ Championship (Rd 1)
Pos Teams Points
 1. Lotus GP                50
 2. MW Arden                47
 3. Jenzer Motorsport       36
 4. Status GP               18
 5. Carlin                   8

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