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Chris van der Drift wins second Auto GP race at Marrakech

Chris van der Drift Manor Mp Auto GP Marrakech 2012Chris van der Drift scored his maiden Auto GP victory in a manic reversed-grid race at Marrakech, securing his first win of any kind since sustaining multiple injuries in an enormous Superleague Formula crash at Brands Hatch in 2010.

Van der Drift had trailed early leader Sergey Sirotkin by 4.8s when the Russian made his mandatory pitstop on lap 12. But the 2008 Formula Master champion upped his pace, and benefitted from a quick tyre change by his MP crew four laps later to exit the pitlane with a slender lead.

"I was surprised to come out of the stops ahead," said van der Drift, who along with his Manor MP Motorsport team-mate Daniel de Jong formed the only pairing to start on new soft compound Kumho tyres. "After tyre problems in race one, I made a point of preserving my rubber early in today's race. Once Sergey pitted, I found I could up my pace without a problem. This is my first win since the accident, so you can say I haven't lost it!"

Third on the road, Monza winner Pal Varhaug is under investigation after cutting a chicane during a fraught final lap. The Norwegian struggled for pace after striking a piece of debris on track, which reduced his front-end grip.

A four-car train of Zele Racing's Giacomo Ricci, championship leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Venezuelan Giancarlo Serenelli and Quaife-Hobbs' Super Nova team-mate Victor Guerin formed behind the compromised Virtuosi UK machine of Varhaug.

Guerin and Serenelli were eliminated from the battle when the former lost control into a chicane on lap 16 and tagged the rear of Campos driver Serenelli while regaining control.

On the last lap Varhaug failed to negotiate a chicane when under intense pressure from Quaife-Hobbs. The Briton became slightly crossed-up on the exit of the corner, promoting an opportunistic Ricci into fourth spot.

"There was something wrong with my steering," said Varhaug. "I had to use more lock than normal to turn into the chicanes, and getting around the final hairpin was almost impossible. When I cut the chicane I lifted off the throttle to allow Adrian ahead, but when I saw that he had been overtaken by Ricci I wasn't sure what to do. I just decided to continue onto the chequered flag."

Guerin recovered from his incident to complete the top six, ahead of Ombra's Yann Cunha.

Pole-sitter on the reversed grid, Euronova's Antonio Spavone, was overtaken by Sirotkin on the opening lap. The Italian's race came to a premature end when he was rammed out of second place by de Jong at the final hairpin at the completion of lap two.

Race one victor Sergio Campana retired in an unfortunate accident with his MLR71 team-mate and boss Michele la Rosa at the same corner. La Rosa had moved off line to allow Ricci to pass, but turned into the path of the Italian Formula 3 champion at the apex.

Results - 19 laps:

Pos Driver                Team             Time/Gap
 1. Chris van der Drift   Manor MP         29m10.823s
 2. Sergey Sirotkin       Euronova           + 0.651s
 3. Pal Varhaug           Virtuosi UK       + 19.943s
 4. Giacomo Ricci         Zele              + 20.597s
 5. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs   Super Nova        + 27.791s
 6. Victor Guerin         Super Nova        + 39.774s
 7. Yann Cunha            Ombra             + 44.552s
 8. Francesco Dracone     Virtuosi UK       + 59.733s
 9. Giuseppe Cipriani     Campos            + 59.932s
10. Facu Regalia          Campos          + 1m06.262s
11. Giancarlo Serenelli   Ombra               + 1 lap
12. Michele La Rosa       MLR 71             + 8 laps
13. Sergio Campana        MLR 71             + 8 laps

Did not finish:

    Antonio Spavone       Euronova             1 lap
    Daniel de Jong        Manor MP             1 lap
    Maxim Snegirev        Campos              0 laps

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