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Sergei Afanasiev dominates Auto GP race one at Valencia

Sergey Afanasiev Valencia DAMS AutoGP 2011

Sergei Afanasiev scored his third win of the Auto GP season at Valencia in Spain on Saturday, taking a dominant victory despite a tardy mandatory pitstop.

The DAMS driver romped home 4.3 seconds clear of Fabio Onidi, only giving up his lead briefly during the pitstop phase. At the start, where the red lights only came on for a fraction of a second, Afanasiev shot into the lead, but it was sixth-placed qualifier Onidi who made the best reaction, rocketing up to second by the opening corner.

The all-Campos Racing second row of Adam Carroll and Adrien Tambay made slow getaways, but whereas Carroll was able to recover to third, Tambay slumped to ninth.

Afanasiev pulled well clear in the opening stages, holding a 3.5s lead when Lazarus driver Onidi pitted on lap seven. Afanasiev stayed out for four more laps, as he was able to maintain his pace well on his tyres, but when he did stop his new right-rear wheel took two attempts to attach.

Onidi had been balked slightly by tailender Giuseppe Cipriani, hampering his pursuit. But then it was Afanasiev's turn to hit traffic, and he took half a lap to deal with Francesco Dracone who, like Cipriani, had stayed out for a long first stint.

Afanasiev had to lunge past Dracone at the fast right-hand kink at Turn 12, and Onidi quickly followed suit - now only 0.7s behind. It was as close as anyone would get to Afanasiev all day, however, as he re-established his lead in the closing stages to win comfortably.

Kevin Ceccon finished third for Ombra, having been caught out at the start from his front-row spot, holding off the close-following Fabrizio Crestani (Lazarus) and Rio Haryanto (DAMS). Tambay recovered to finish sixth, but team-mate Carroll suffered a shocking pitstop, and fell to eighth behind TP Formula's Samuele Buttarelli.

Practice pacesetter Luca Filippi (Super Nova) also suffered a nightmare pitstop, and finished outside the top 10.

Afanasiev is now just six points behind Ceccon in the championship race.

Results - 22 laps:

Pos  Driver                Team           Time/Gap
 1.  Sergei Afanasiev      DAMS         32m18.625s
 2.  Fabio Onidi           Lazarus        + 4.385s
 3.  Kevin Ceccon          Ombra         + 16.231s
 4.  Fabrizio Crestani     Lazarus       + 16.532s
 5.  Rio Haryanto          DAMS          + 17.392s
 6.  Adrien Tambay         Campos        + 21.780s
 7.  Samuele Buttarelli    TP            + 23.181s
 8.  Adam Carroll          Campos        + 26.949s
 9.  Adrian Campos Jr      Campos        + 31.300s
10.  Giovanni Venturini    Durango       + 34.094s
11.  Pasquale di Sabatino  TP            + 35.047s
12.  Luca Filippi          Super Nova    + 44.096s
13.  Daniel de Jong        MP            + 49.843s
14.  Francesco Dracone     Emmebi      + 1m02.253s
15.  Giuseppe Cipriani     Durango     + 1m03.581s
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