Brno Auto GP: Karthikeyan wins to keep title hopes alive
Narain Karthikeyan vaulted into second position in the Auto GP drivers' standings after clinching his fifth victory of the season at Brno
The Indian, who started the weekend as a title outsider in fourth place in the standings, made a flier from third on the grid to lead the field into Turn 1.
An anticipated challenge from Kevin Giovesi failed to materialise when the Italian hit technical trouble halfway around the opening tour, and it fell to the second Ghinzani entry of Robert Visoiu to provide Karthikeyan's chief opposition.
The GP3 race winner chipped away at a large early advantage established by Karthikeyan to close within 1.5 seconds of the lead. But, despite a wild trip down the grass exiting the final corner on lap 12, ex-Formula 1 driver Karthikeyan was able to summon a response to Visoiu's pace.
Slow-starting polesitter Vittorio Ghirelli completed a Super Nova one-two after opportunistically passing Visoiu for second when the Romanian emerged from the pits on cold tyres three laps from home.
The pair ran wheel-to-wheel for several corners, and championship leader Ghirelli admitted to taking a chance in order to complete the manoeuvre.
The Formula Renault 3.5 graduate has a 15-point lead over Karthikeyan, and remains favourite to earn his maiden crown in car racing on Sunday as there is a maximum score of 21 points available in the final race of the season.
Behind Visoiu, who secured his second podium of the season, Kimiya Sato held off Tamas Pal Kiss by 0.2s to take fourth place.
Sato maintains a mathematical possibility of winning the Auto GP drivers' title, but, barring any shock scrutineering dramas for the Super Nova duo, sixth-place finisher Sergio Campana appears to have dropped out of contention.
A yellow flag at Turn 12 in the closing stages, owing to Michela Cerruti's stranded car, denied the leaders any opportunity of wrestling the bonus point for fastest lap away from Tamas Pal Kiss.
Results - 16 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Narain Karthikeyan Super Nova 28m44.800s 2. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova +3.331s 3. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani +7.804s 4. Kimiya Sato Euronova +12.210s 5. Tamas Pal Kiss Zele +12.440s 6. Sergio Campana Ibiza +29.106s 7. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK +29.316s 8. Roberto La Rocca Comtec +31.389s 9. Daniel de Jong Manor +33.723s 10. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK +38.834s 11. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova +41.939s 12. Meindert van Buuren Manor +59.710s 13. Francesco Dracone Ibiza +1m04.743s 14. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 +1m15.204s 15. Josef Kral Zele +1m24.410s 16. Michela Cerruti MLR 71 +4 laps Retirements: Kevin Giovesi Ghinzani 0 laps
Auto GP Brno: Vittorio Ghirelli takes crucial pole at final round
Brno Auto GP: Kimiya Sato win can't deny Vittorio Ghirelli title