Wickens dominates messy GP3 race
|By Mark Glendenning||Saturday, July 24th 2010, 16:27 GMT|
Robert 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 Retirements: 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