Tio Ellinas claimed a frantic victory in the opening GP3 race of the season at Barcelona today.
With shot tyres, the Cypriot barely held Patric Niederhauser and Conor Daly at bay in the final laps, as the trio finished covered only by nine-tenths.
Knowing the tyres may go off quickly, Ellinas surged into an early banker lead, heading Niederhauser by 3.8 seconds after six laps.
The gap hovered at that for a few tours, before Ellinas’ Pirelli’s gave way, allowing Niederhauser to close the gap, yet Niederhauser too was struggling for grip, making the attack as difficult as the defence and contributing somewhat to his finishing 2nd, just 0.428s behind Ellinas.
As laptimes fell from the 1:37’s to 1:41’s late on, the conservative Daly closed in, taking over six seconds from the leading pair in the final four laps; however the American ran out of time, closing to within 0.94s of Ellinas as the chequered flag flew.
In the pack, the action was coming thick and fast, as drivers up to ten drivers slipped in and out of various tyre wear phases.
From there, Carlin’s Nick Yelloly was next to the flag, coming in a healthy 4th. The Englishman lost bucket loads of time behind MW Arden’s Daniil Kvyat – seemingly the first to feel the pain of destroyed Pirelli’s – as did several members of the pack behind him, including Aaro Vainio (5th), who in turn enjoyed a solid gap to Jack Harvey (6th) and David Fumanelli (7th).
Kevin Korjus recovered from qualifying penalty somewhat to finish 8th, taking the reverse grid pole. The Estonian led a large train of cars across the line, with Robert Visoiu, Alex Fontana, Lewis Williamson and Giovanni Venturini all just missing out on the prized 8th place.
Dino Zamparelli takes a grid penalty into tomorrow’s race, ensuring he starts from last place. In an attempt to overtake Korjus, the Anglo-Italian collided with the Koiranen racer two laps from the end, with Zamparelli retiring there and then – as noted, Korjus continued to 8th spot.
By the end of the race, Kvyat came home 20th, with just the backmarker group of Ryan Cullen, Carmen Jorda and Adderly Fong behind.
Kvyat’s tyres began to give up as early as lap five and by the end of 17, the Russian was dropping close to eight seconds per lap to the leaders. It marks a new age for GP3 and it appears conservation is the key to success – whether drivers like it or not.
2013 GP3 Series round of Barcelona (Rd 1, Race 1; 17 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Tio Ellinas Manor 28m06.022s 2. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer + 0.428s 3. Conor Daly ART + 0.940s 4. Nick Yelloly Carlin + 9.726s 5. Aaro Vainio Koiranen + 16.925s 6. Jack Harvey ART + 23.006s 7. David Fumanelli Trident + 23.572s 8. Kevin Korjus Koiranen + 28.615s 9. Robert Visoiu MW Arden + 29.053s 10. Alex Fontana Jenzer + 29.426s 11. Lewis Williamson Bamboo + 29.669s 12. Giovanni Venturini Trident + 30.832s 13. Luis Sa Silva Carlin + 37.044s 14. Melville McKee Bamboo + 37.277s 15. Carlos Sainz Jr MW Arden + 51.669s 16. Samin Gomez Jenzer + 51.949s 17. Emanuele Zonzini Trident + 52.325s 18. Eric Lichtenstein Carlin + 52.759s 19. Jimmy Eriksson Status + 53.858s 20. Daniil Kvyat MW Arden + 1m08.691s 21. Ryan Cullen Manor + 1m09.967s 22. Carmen Jorda Bamboo + 1m10.626s 23. Adderly Fong Status + 1m14.398s 24. Facu Regalia ART + 2 laps Retirements: Dino Zamparelli Manor +3 laps Patrick Kujala Koiranen +7 laps Josh Webster Status +11 laps
2013 GP3 Series round of Barcelona (Rd 1, Race 1) Pos Driver Points 1. Tio Ellinas 31 2. Patric Niederhauser 18 3. Conor Daly 15 4. Nick Yelloly 12 5. Aaro Vainio 10 6. Jack Harvey 8 7. David Fumanelli 6 8. Kevin Korjus 4 9. Robert Visoiu 2 10. Alex Fontana 1 Pos Team Points 1. Marussia Manor 31 2. ART Grand Prix 23 3. Jenzer Motorsport 19 4. Koiranen GP 14 5. Carlin 12