“Kirchhöfer scores first cool GP3 victory”
Marvin Kirchhöfer scored his first GP3 Series victory this evening, mere hours after securing his maiden pole position.
The German racer also scored the fastest lap of the eighteen-lap race, with the bonus points helping Kirchhöfer into 3rd in the championship stakes.
Series leader Alex Lynn took a reasonably comfortable 2nd position ahead of the new podium regular Emil Bernstorff.
Although Lynn maintained close proximity throughout, Kirchhöfer rarely appeared threatened under the tough Hockenheim heat.
With a clean start, the ART Grand Prix racer held the lead at just over one second for the opening two-thirds of the race, before extending the gap to almost four seconds during the final six tours.
Bernstorff held on to the leading pair admirably, with the Carlin man finishing just 4.4s down on the eventual victor.
Despite a track temperature that hovered around the 50°C, the tyres largely held intact, promoting something of static race in the higher order. With the frontrunners generally holding a set pace, few overtaking opportunities were presented.
Behind the front three, Nick Yelloly finished 4th, having been past by Bernstorff off the line, but could not keep with the tougher pace. The race was less profitable for Dino Zamparelli, whose pace collapsed in the final two laps, leading to Dean Stoneman to slip by into 5th before the flag.
Title challenger Jimmy Eriksson drove a solid race to 7th, gaining three places during the eighteen laps, including two off the line. The Swede had the next position handed to him by an errant Mathéo Tuscher, who momentarily fell off the circuit on the twelfth tour.
Tusher’s made a second error on the following lap, allowing Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough in the frame.
By this point, the charging Mardenborough had already made moves on Luis Sá Silva (lap 7), Mitch Gilbert (lap 8), Robert Visoiu (lap 13) and Richie Stanaway (lap 15), before taking Riccardo Agostini two laps from the end. Mardenborough’s late burst also gives him reverse grid pole for the Sunday morning Race Two.
Agostini hung on to claim 9th, while Visoiu passed Stanaway three laps from the end to make sure of the last points paying position.
While he would have certainly appreciated the victory, the result does give Lynn an extra advantage over Eriksson in the points standings, with the Briton leading by a solid twenty scores.
The race was not without other action. Alfonso Celis Jr and Ryan Cullen clashed on the 2nd lap at the hairpin – Celis Jr received a three-place grid penalty as a result. Also Sebastian Balthasar made silly contact with Nelson Mason, also in the hairpin, three laps from the end.
However Kirchhöfer is beginning to hit his stride and the German F3 champion, so confident of his own skills, may eventually become a championship challenger yet.
2014 GP3 Series Round of Germany (Rd 4, Race 1, 18 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Marvin Kirchhofer ART 27m47.577s 2. Alex Lynn Carlin +3.359s 3. Emil Bernstorff Carlin +4.459s 4. Nick Yelloly Status +9.770s 5. Dean Stoneman Manor +12.928s 6. Dino Zamparelli ART +14.922s 7. Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen +16.702s 8. Jann Mardenborough Arden +17.173s 9. Riccardo Agostini Hilmer +18.231s 10. Robert Visoiu Arden +18.752s 11. Alex Fontana ART +20.483s 12. Patric Niederhauser Arden +29.000s 13. Richie Stanaway Status +29.462s 14. Mitch Gilbert Trident +29.672s 15. Adderly Fong Jenzer +29.873s 16. NelsonMason Hilmer +32.628s 17. Luis Sa Silva Carlin +36.620s 18. Matheo Tuscher Jenzer +37.224s 19. Pal Varhaug Jenzer +37.444s 20. Ryan Cullen Manor +37.635s 21. Roman de Beer Trident +41.959s 22. Santiago Urrutia Koiranen +46.976s 23. Victor Carbone Trident +47.277s 24. Sebastian Balthasar Hilmer +1m22.062s Retirements: Patrick Kujala Manor +2 laps Carmen Jorda Koiranen +11 laps Alfonso Celis Jr Status +17 laps