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Wickens dominates messy GP3 race

Robert Wickens on the Hockenheim podiumRobert Wickens took his first GP3 Series victory in a chaotic feature race at Hockenheim.

The Canadian picked off James Jakes for second and then Josef Newgarden for the lead on the opening lap, and had a relatively comfortable time of it from that point on. He extended his lead to as much as 3.5 seconds before backing off on the final lap to cross the line 2.2s clear of Jakes.

Renger van der Zande finally ended his points drought by taking third, a position the Mucke driver worked hard for after having to contend with extended pressure from series leader Esteban Gutierrez.

But things were messy behind them, with two safety car interventions required in the first three laps. The first was triggered by the inevitable pile-up at the hairpin on the opening lap, which accounted for four cars, and the second was needed when Alexander Rossi tried to go inside Daniel Morad at the exit of Turn 1 on the restart and succeeded only in hitting the Status car instead.

Rossi was pitched into a spin and came to rest across the middle of the track, and the Amercian was fortunate not to be collected by any of the cars behind him. By the halfway mark, more than a third of the field had been eliminated by accidents.

Polesitter Newgarden did not crash but he still had a torrid time, dropping steadily back through the field. He went into the final lap in eighth place, but that went out of the window when he was hit from behind by Roberto Merhi. The latter had endured an eventful afternoon himself, having lined up fourth on the grid only to stall on the line and be sent to the rear of the field for the restart.

The clash with Newgarden could yet prove costly for the Spaniard, as seventh-placed Felipe Guimaraes faces an investigation for overtaking under the safety car, and should the Brazilian be penalised, Merhi would have likely been promoted from ninth to eighth and started tomorrow's race from pole.

An even earlier casualty was Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, whose car came to a stop with a mechanical problem on the installation lap.

Among those who ended the race in one piece was Stefano Coletti, whose drive to fifth included a nice move on Newgarden at the hairpin. The remaining points went to Mirko Bortolotti in sixth and Daniel Juncadella in eighth.

Pos  Driver                Team         Time/Gap
 1.  Robert Wickens        Status     29m40.963s
 2.  James Jakes           Manor        + 2.395s
 3.  Renger van der Zande  RSC Mucke    + 3.579s
 4.  Esteban Gutierrez     ART          + 4.000s
 5.  Stefano Coletti       Tech 1      + 11.336s
 6.  Mirko Bortolotti      Addax       + 11.903s
 7.  Felipe Guimaraes      Addax       + 12.511s
 8.  Daniel Juncadella     Tech 1      + 20.352s
 9.  Dean Smith            Carlin      + 20.972s
10.  Doru Sechelariu       Tech 1      + 21.349s
11.  Simon Trummer         Jenzer      + 21.647s
12.  Pal Varhaug           Jenzer      + 23.337s
13.  Oliver Oakes          Atech CRS   + 25.462s
14.  Pedro Nunes           ART         + 27.096s
15.  Vittorio Ghirelli     Atech CRS   + 32.796s
16.  Roberto Merhi         Atech CRS   + 40.089s
17.  Ivan Lukashevich      Status      + 40.203s
18.  Josef Newgarden       Carlin        + 1 lap


     Daniel Morad          Status     7 laps
     Rio Haryanto          Manor      6 laps
     Pablo Sanchez Lopez   Addax      6 laps
     Tobias Hegewald       RSC Mucke  6 laps
     Michael Christensen   MW Arden   3 laps
     Alexander Rossi       ART        3 laps
     Leonardo Cordeiro     MW Arden   0 laps
     Nigel Melker          RSC Mucke  0 laps
     Miki Monras           MW Arden   0 laps
     Adrian Quaife-Hobbs   Manor      0 laps
     Lucas Foresti         Carlin     0 laps
     Nico Muller           Jenzer     0 laps
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