“Abt and Ellinas win at Monza, but Evans takes GP3 crown”

© GP3 Media Services.

It was close for Daniel Abt – far closer than anyone would have anticipated following qualifying.

Comfortable in himself, Mitch Evans took pole position and the four bonus points that come with it to lead into Saturday’s opening GP3 race.

For all intents and purposes, it should have been easier than it was. Rival apparent, Antonio Felix da Costa lingered a few rows behind, as did Aaro Vainio, while Abt had been assigned a bit part as the distant challenger.

Indeed Evans’ lead was sufficient enough for the Kiwi to not have to force the issue, but… where da Costa and Vainio fell away for various reasons; Abt rose to become the main protagonist.

The German could not overhaul Evans – he lost out by two points after trailing by 39 after qualifying, yet Abt’s spirit of determination won the weekend broadcasts.

Abt will be back, of that there is no doubt. From the teenager who threw away the lead at Macau in 2010 to the young man who took the GP3 Series to Evans, Abt has grown into an exciting young driver. And a threatening one.

Race One
An ecstatic Daniel Abt (Lotus) took his second GP3 race win in the space of a week, beating the defiant Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor), Aaro Vainio (Lotus) and Mattias Laine (MW Arden) to the flag.
Abt’s success ensured the Lotus team secured their third successive GP3 crown.

Starting 7th, the German had already nabbed three spots before the opening tour was complete and had soon displaced David Fumanelli as well. With slipstreaming a priority at Monza, Abt drafted beyond Laine (lap 3) and then early race leader Antonio Felix da Costa
Da Costa would prove a far tougher prospect – the Portuguese racer engaged Abt in a shortlived battle, fending off the feisty German until lap seven, when the Carlin driver suffered a gearbox issue – he did continue, but finished 15th.
From there, Vainio pressed Abt hard, only for the Finn to be taken by the charging Ellinas, yet despite his obvious speed, Ellinas could not find a way past.

Ellinas continued home to 2nd – his first podium of the season; however Vainio would lose his 3rd spot immediately after the race, when stewards judged that he had ignored yellow flags on the final lap. Vainio received a 20 second penalty, dropping him to 11th and promoting Laine to the final podium position.

Conor Daly won a titanic seven-car battle to finish 4th. The American lingered in the second tier pack for much of the event, only rising to the front with Patric Niederhauser in the late stages, with Daly pipping Niederhauser by only 0.5 seconds at the flag.
The pairing still had to keep their feet to the floor right up to the death. Behind them, Fumanelli (MW Arden, 6th), Marlon Stockinger (Status GP, 7th), Giovanni Venturini (Trident, 8th), Tamas Pa’l Kiss (Atech CRS, 9th) and Will Buller (Carlin, 10th) all crossed the line covered by a mere 1.841 seconds in a classic slipstreaming battle.

Championship leader Mitch Evans retired on the second lap, after he heavily damaged his car jumping the kerbs at turn one.

2012 GP3 Round of Monza (Rd 8, Race 1, 16 laps)
Pos  Driver                  Team          Time/Gap 
 1.  Daniel Abt              Lotus       28m17.548s 
 2.  Tio Ellinas             Manor         + 0.349s 
 3.  Mattias Laine           MW Arden      + 1.881s 
 4.  Conor Daly              Lotus        + 14.108s 
 5.  Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer       + 14.602s 
 6.  David Fumanelli         MW Arden     + 16.401s 
 7.  Marlon Stockinger       Status       + 16.750s 
 8.  Giovanni Venturini      Trident      + 16.836s 
 9.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Atech CRS    + 17.712s 
10.  Will Buller             Carlin       + 18.242s 
11.  Aaro Vainio             Lotus        +  0.593s* 
12.  Alice Powell            Status       + 26.101s 
13.  Kevin Ceccon            Ocean        + 28.448s 
14.  Robert Visoiu           Jenzer       + 28.795s 
15.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Carlin       + 29.375s 
16.  Vicky Piria             Trident      + 34.411s 
17.  John Wartique           Atech CRS    + 46.207s 
18.  Ethan Ringel            Atech CRS    + 51.238s 
19.  Lewis Williamson        Status     + 1m00.707s 
20.  Robert Cregan           Ocean      + 1m01.569s 
21.  Carmen Jorda            Ocean      + 1m30.934s  
     Dmitry Suranovich       Manor          14 laps
     Alex Brundle            Carlin         10 laps 
     Mitch Evans             MW Arden         1 lap 
     Fabiano Machado         Manor            1 lap

*20-second post race penalty for ignoring yellow flags.

(Race Two)
A late move by Ellinas on Abt ensured the 2012 GP3 title would be heading the way of Evans.
From the fourth row, Ellinas peeled his way through the order, initially taking Laine and Niederhauser before the one-third mark. Brief battles with Stöckinger and Fumanelli brought Ellinas to the tail of the top three and into a catfight for the lead.
The Cypriot had dispatched Venturini by the 11th tour, but the Trident racer – unwilling to give – pressed Ellinas hard.

Abt, meanwhile, only possessed a two-tenths advantage over Ellinas as they completed lap 12, with Venturini a further half-second behind and while the latter would ultimately not press for the lead, the fight between the leading pair intensified. Ellinas made his first move on lap 13, sliding by Abt at the Variante del Roggia, only for the Lotus man to respond in kind a lap later.
Entering the penultimate lap, Abt and Ellinas drew close together, almost banging wheels through the Variante Rettifilo; however Ellinas would finally nail Abt – again at the Roggia – to secure his first GP3 win.

There was little else the disconsolate Abt could do – his tyres had simply passed their best – and with 2nd place in the race, the Lotus racer settled for 2nd in the GP3 Series points standings.
Despite starting the weekend as a distant outsider, Abt came within two-points of displacing Evans at the top – Ellinas’ lap 15 move cost the German racer three points…

It was in an early battle with Venturini that Abt most likely used the best of his tyres. Lining up on pole, the Italian kept the tricky Fumanelli at bay, before engaging Abt’s rearward assault.
Venturini eventually dropped behind the determined Abt on the sixth circulation of the circuit, falling to 3rd when he succumbed to Ellinas’ charge. The Italian did close back up to Abt during the final laps, but could not demote the German racer.

The Ellinas / Abt / Venturini fight allowed Stöckinger to close in once again, but it was too little too late for the Status GP man, who crossed the line just three-tenths shy of the podium.
Da Costa took a hard fought 5th ahead of Laine (6th) and Visoiu (7th), although the Portuguese racer came close to being wiped out by a battling Vainio and Evans at the midpoint. Along with Buller, da Costa banged wheels and had a few narrow escapes as Vainio held Evans at bay.
Outbraking each other at the Roggia, Evans and Vainio pummelled the kerbs, effectively finishing their challenges – emerging unscathed, da Costa continued to a top five finish. Vainio dropped to 12th, while Evans – hammered by a puncture – took 20th place; a champion regardless.

Alice Powell claimed the final point’s place of the year, ensuring her first score and the first point for a lady in the GP3 Series. Powell, who has displayed improved race form in recent rounds, surged ahead of Kevin Ceccon (9th), Alex Brundle (10th), Conor Daly (11th – thanks to an early off) in the second half of the race to lead a group covered by only 1.741 seconds.

2012 GP3 Round of Monza (Rd 8, Race 2, 16 laps)
Pos  Driver                  Team          Time/Gap
 1.  Tio Ellinas             Manor       28m18.541s
 2.  Daniel Abt              Lotus         + 1.003s
 3.  Giovanni Venturini      Trident       + 1.408s
 4.  Marlon Stockinger       Status        + 1.715s
 5.  Antonio Felix da Costa  Carlin        + 7.377s
 6.  Matias Laine            MW Arden      + 8.488s
 7.  Robert Visoiu           Jenzer        + 8.968s
 8.  Alice Powell            Status       + 14.383s
 9.  Kevin Ceccon            Ocean        + 14.416s
10.  Alex Brundle            Carlin       + 15.535s
11.  Conor Daly              Lotus        + 16.124s
12.  Will Buller             Carlin       + 18.964s
13.  David Fumanelli         MW Arden     + 24.392s
14.  Aaro Vainio             Lotus        + 27.489s
15.  Tamas Pal Kiss          Atech CRS    + 30.682s
16.  Fabiano Machado         Manor        + 36.048s
17.  Robert Cregan           Ocean        + 36.116s
18.  John Wartique           Atech CRS    + 38.365s
19.  Carmen Jorda            Ocean      + 1m08.753s
20.  Mitch Evans             MW Arden   + 1m29.894s
     Patric Niederhauser     Jenzer          7 laps
     Vicky Piria             Trident         2 laps
     Lewis Williamson        Status          0 laps
     Ethan Ringel            Atech CRS       0 laps
     Dmitry Suranovich       Manor           0 laps
2012 GP3 Series (final point standings)
Drivers' Championship
Pos Driver Points
 1. Mitch Evans             151.5
 2. Daniel Abt              149.5
 3. Antonio Felix da Costa  132
 4. Aaro Vainio             123
 5. Mattias Laine           111
 6. Conor Daly              106
 7. Patric Niederhauser     101
 8. Tio Ellinas              97
 9. Kevin Ceccon             56
10. Marlon Stockinger        55
Teams Championship
Pos Team Points
1. Lotus GP                 378.5
2. MW Arden                 309.5
3. Carlin                   171
4. Jenzer                   133.5
5. Marussia Manor            97

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