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“FIA F3: Günther wins 76th Grand Prix de Pau”

May 21, 2017

Maxi Günther claimed the 76th Grand Prix de Pau this afternoon, but only after early leader Lando Norris crashed out.

Prema Powerteam’s Callum Ilott trailed home in 2nd place, challenged by Hitech GP Ralf Aron to the flag.

For the first eighteen of the twenty-eight laps, the race was all about Norris. Having suffered from repeated poor starts this season, the Briton cut across the front of Günther as the lights went out, and eased into a dominant lead.

Indeed Ilott’s first lap was such; he pulled a 1.2s gap on the opening tour, which had then extended to 4.2s by the end of the eighth lap. The race was neutralised by the safety car a lap later when David Beckmann crashed on the Allée Alfred de Musset, while pressuring Guan Yu Zhou for 14th place.

The safety car brought Günther back into play when the race restarted on lap 11, but only for a moment, as once again Norris sprinted away, building a gap of nearly 3.0s by the turn of lap 18.
It was not to be for Norris, who crashed out at Foch on the nineteenth tour after his suspension gave way, causing him to lock up on entry, hitting the barrier front on.

From there, Günther drew a gap to the chasing Ilott, holding at approximately 2.0s until the flag, where he secured his 2nd win of the day and the season. It is a result that propels him to 3rd in the championship – just two points behind the tied Norris and Joel Eriksson – and gives him the prize of the 76th Grand Prix de Pau.

Ilott kept a feisty Aron at bay for much of the race. Initially the Prema Powerteam man had Harrison Newey (van Amersfoort Racing) and Eriksson on his tail, only for Aron to push his way passed both when Eriksson attempted a move on Newey on lap 11.
From there, Aron kept the pressure on Ilott, but his challenge began to fade in the final few laps, as the Estonian solidified his first podium of the weekend.

Newey and Eriksson followed home in 4th and 5th respectively, while Ferdinand Habsburg recorded a respectable 6th place. Tadasuke Makino scored his first points of the year by coming home 7th – he led a small train that contained Pedro Piquet (8th, van Amersfoort) and Jake Dennis (9th, Carlin).
Zhou eventually closed out the points for Prema Powerteam by coming home 10th ahead of the only other three finishers – Jehan Daruvala (11th, Carlin), Mick Schumacher (12th, Prema Powerteam) and Marino Sato (13th, Motopark).

Jake Hughes and Joey Mawson both pitted to retire on lap nine, capping a horrific weekend for both, while Andreas Kayvan binned his Motopark machine on lap 15. Nikita Mazepin pitted with mechanical issues on lap 17, ending his race immediately.

The series reconvenes in Budapest in three weeks time for its first round with the DTM. It will be interesting to see if Günther can continue this run of form on a far more “regular” circuit.

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