Donington Auto GP: Narain Karthikeyan claims fourth victory
Narain Karthikeyan maintained his mathematical hopes of winning the Auto GP crown by claiming his fourth win of the season in the Donington Park reversed-grid race
The former Formula 1 driver survived a lap two clash with fellow title hopeful Sergio Campana at Redgate to claim victory by a comfortable 13.7 seconds over rookie polesitter Meindert van Buuren.
Key to Karthikeyan's success was an early mandatory tyre, from which the Indian emerged in clear air and able to maximise his race pace.
"We always planned to stop early," said Karthikeyan. "I made a great start, but Campana came from nowhere at Turn 1. He dived on the inside and we made contact.
"After that the front-right corner felt a bit awkward, but fortunately there aren't too many left-hand corners here and I was able pull out a big lead at the end."
The win sets-up a four-way title decider at Brno in October. Starting from seventh, after finishing second in this morning's opener, Karthikeyan made an excellent start to jump into fifth place by the opening corner.
The Super Nova driver's progress was aided by a terrible getaway by front-row starter Tamas Pal Kiss, who immediately dropped to ninth.
Poleman van Buuren led Manor MP Motorsport team-mate Daniel de Jong on the opening lap, ahead of consistent podium finisher Kevin Giovesi.
Rookie van Buuren looked assured at the head of the field and eked out a one second lead over de Jong. In fact, van Buuren would not be passed on track during the race, only losing position during the pitstop phase.
Campana emerged from a late tyre change just two laps from home having also leapfrogged van Buuren during the pitstops.
The triple 2013 victor held the position by a slender margin, and was forced to defend his second position on cold tyres through the Craner Curves. Under pressure from van Buuren, the 2011 Italian Formula 3 champion ran off-track on the exit of the Old Hairpin, incurring a heavy blow to his championship aspirations.
Campana slipped down to sixth as he rallycrossed back onto asphalt, falling behind Giovesi, Kimiya Sato and race one victor Vittorio Ghirelli.
Sato's eventual fifth place was a fine effort after a controlled display from last on the grid. The Japanese driver was forced to start from the rear of the field after posting race one's only retirement when he spun into the gravel at McLeans.
GP2 driver de Jong dropped out of contention when he suffered a severe delay during the change of his left-rear wheel, and would end a frustrating afternoon in the penultimate position.
Victories for Karthikeyan and Ghirelli at Donington this weekend have secured their Super Nova team victory in the teams' championship.
Results - 21 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Narain Karthikeyan Super Nova 28m00.985s 2. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP +13.684s 3. Kevin Giovesi Ghinzani +14.114s 4. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova +15.874s 5. Kimiya Sato Euronova +18.054s 6. Sergio Campana Ibiza +21.626s 7. Roberto La Rocca Comtec/Virtuosi +22.864s 8. Tamas Pal Kiss Ibiza +24.076s 9. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova +43.475s 10. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi +45.113s 11. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani +45.396s 12. Andrea Roda Virtuosi +46.144s 13. Daniel de Jong Manor MP +46.523s 14. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 +57.252s
Donington Auto GP: Ghirelli beats Karthikeyan and takes points lead
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