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20/03/2016 2016 Australian Grand Prix Review

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GP3 Belgian Grand Prix Weekend Review.
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In the penultimate pair of races in the GP3 championship, Spa-Francorchamps threw up a very action-packed weekend. Evans came in with a 17-point lead ahead of Vainio, who in turn was 17 ahead of Felix da Costa. Daniel Abt was also in with an outside chance, but the title was a bit beyond his reach.

Cregan opened qualifying, before Vainio replaced him on pole. Daniel Abt quickly went second. Cregan re-took pole, quickly deposed by Ceccon and then Vainio. Meanwhile, Piria took a spin into Les Combes bringing out the yellow flags.  

Da Costa took 3rd place from Abt, losing over a second on Vainio in the opening sector of his flying lap.

  

The track was drying all the time in qualifying, as shown by the ever-decreasing lap times. Da Costa took pole on his second lap, but was losing time inexplicably through the final sector. Vainio and Fumanelli immediately deposed him this time. Abt also went fastest, making it four pole-position times within about 10 seconds. Evans then slipped in just behind Abt, who improved his own time on the following lap.

  

Vainio took pole with less than 5 minutes remaining, before Daly took 2nd behind him. Abt resumed the lead as soon as he made it to the line again. However, Evans went sub-2:11 to take provisional pole by almost a second. Daly once again went 2nd, to be deposed first by da Costa and then by Lotus teammate Abt. Laine then snuck into 4th as Evans went a tenth slower than his previous lap. Among all this, Vainio had dropped to 6th.

  

Laine took 2nd place, giving the Arden boys a front-row lockout. Behind them were Abt’s Lotus, Felix da Costa’s Carlin, Daly’s Lotus, Williamson’s Status, Vainio’s Lotus, Venturini’s Trident, Fontana's Jenzer and Ellinas’ Manor. Beyond the top ten were Stockinger’s Status, Niederhauser’s Jenzer, Piria’s Trident, Buller’s Carlin, Ceccon’s Ocean, Fumanelli’s Arden, Brundle’s Carlin, Visoiu’s Jenzer, Pal Kiss’ CRS, Powell’s Status, Ringel’s CRS, Cregan’s Ocean, Suranovich and Machado for Manor, Wartique’s CRS and finally Jorda’s Ocean.

  

Annoyingly the GP2 overrun meant I was unable to see the first GP3 race, so we are forced to skip directly to the (half-points) results.

  

Abt won from Felix da Costa, Evans, Ellinas, Laine, Vainio, Daly and Williamson. This meant Williamson took pole for race 2, with Abt in 8th. Behind them on the race 2 grid were Venturini, Fontana, Niederhauser, Ceccon, Buller, Stockinger, Visoiu, Piria, Pal Kiss, Powell, Brundle, Fumanelli, Suranovich, Wartique, Ringel, Machado and Jorda. Cregan did not take part after a heavy race 1 shunt.

  

Evans led the championship on the grid, with 147.5 points from Vainio on 123. Da Costa was 3rd, 11 down on Vainio with Abt also clearing the 100-point barrier.

  

Daly had a very slow start, leaving Laine leading Williamson and a lucky Daly, who took 2nd into Les Combes. Williamson had the position back within a lap.

  

Vainio and Ellinas collided into Les Combes and allowed Evans to 4th. The championship was looking ever more to be Evans’ for the taking.  

Further back, Kevin Ceccon had risen from 12th to 6th with an amazing start, although Fontana forced him back to 7th on lap 2.  

Abt forced Niederhauser off the track into La Source to take the position. Da Costa suffered similarly at Evans’ hands into Bus Stop on the same lap.

  

Ceccon dropped the car into Les Combes on lap 3, allowing Abt onto Fontana's rear wing but dropping his own Ocean to the back of the pack by a fair margin.  

Williamson was weaving down the Kemmel straight every lap, desperately trying to shake off Daly’s Lotus but flouting the ‘one move’ defending rules in the process.

  

Da Costa harried Evans from La Source down through Eau Rouge and back up to Raidillon where he finally cleared the Arden followed by Fontana and Abt. Ellinas, further back, spun at Les Combes and hit the rear wheel of Vainio.  

Buller cleared Niederhauser as the pair continued the assault on Evans. At the end of the 5th lap, Fumanelli drove over the wheel of Stockinger, very lucky to not retire from that mistake. Niederhauser returned the favour later in the lap, then overtook Evans a short time later.

  

Venturini cleared Buller into La Source on the 8th lap, before Powell cleared Visoiu for 14th.  

Daly cleared Williamson as the Status ran wide at Blanchimont, closely followed by da Costa into Les Combes. Da Costa then overtook Daly as well, late in the race, desperate to minimise his championship deficit in Monza.

  

Evans dropped to 10th place behind Venturini and Buller as the Arden’s tyres gave up. Pal Kiss and Brundle also overtook the championship leader. Stockinger and Powell settled in behind him, but Stockinger soon cleared the Arden and left him at Powell’s mercy. Ultimately they both took a position from him.

  

Williamson was also falling back, as Fontana cleared him into Les Combes. Abt cleared the lead Status a lap later. Niederhauser also took the position from the Status on the final lap.  

Powell cleared Stockinger as well, while the 3rd Status fell behind Evans and Visoiu. However, he regained the Arden’s position on the final lap. Vainio cleared Stockinger and Evans. 

 

Laine won from da Costa, Daly, Fontana, Abt, Niederhauser, Williamson, Buller, Venturini, Kiss Pal, Brundle, Powell, Visoiu, Vainio, Evans, Stockinger, Wartique, Suranovich, Piria and Ceccon. Behind them were Machado, Ringel and Jorda. Fumanelli and Ellinas were unclassified.

 

Tufty  

 



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