Nurburgring Auto GP: Narain Karthikeyan beats Kevin Giovesi to win
Narain Karthikeyan scored his third Auto GP victory of the 2013 season after a close-fought battle with Kevin Giovesi at the Nurburgring
Starting from pole position, Karthikeyan was pressured for the lead by impressive rookie Giovesi until making a late mandatory tyre change on lap 18 of the 23-lap race.
Giovesi's Ghinzani Motorsport team called its man in on the following tour, and on exiting the pits it fleetingly appeared that Giovesi might steal the win.
But under braking for Turn 1, Giovesi suffered a massive front brake lock-up and overshot the corner.
As Giovesi scrabbled back on the road, Super Nova driver Karthikeyan gratefully recovered the position and eked out a 2.2s margin of victory at the chequered flag.
"Everyone likes to change fronts here as it is quicker, but they do take a while to come up to temperature," said Karthikeyan.
Giovesi, who has challenged for victory at every meeting since joining the series at Silverstone in June, was far from despondent with second.
"Narain was very fast and there was no way to pass him," he said. "At the first corner I couldn't tell how close it was between us, I tried a big move but my fronts were too cold and I overshot the corner."
Starting from the dirty side of the grid, front-row qualifier Vittorio Ghirelli lost ground away from the lights. The GP2 driver braved a move on the outside of championship leader Sergio Campana at the first sequence of corners to wrestle back third position.
Thereafter the Italian had a relatively lonely run to earn the final place on the podium.
By far the most intense battle of the race was the wheel-banging scrap between championship protagonists Kimiya Sato and Campana for fourth.
Sato had lined up sixth on the grid, one place behind the Italian, after suffering electrical trouble in qualifying. The Euronova racer undoubtedly had superior race pace over Campana and was in determined mood to recover the lead in the drivers' standings.
Campana and Sato clashed into the final corner on lap 10 and ran Kumho-to-Kumho for almost a third of the following lap.
The fight continued after both emerged from their mandatory tyre changes, but once through Sato pulled out a comfortable nine seconds over Campana at the finish.
After entering the meeting tied on 138 points, Sato now moves ahead of Campana in the drivers' classification.
Campana's new Ibiza Racing team-mate Tamas Pal Kiss completed the top six. Kiss joined Guiseppe Cipriani's team this weekend after his previous squad Zele Racing elected to miss the meeting.
Auto GP debutants Roberto La Rocca and Michela Cerruti finished eighth and ninth.
GP2 driver Daniel de Jong posted the only retirement after being punted into a spin by Michele La Rosa at the final chicane on the opening lap.
Results - 23 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Narain Karthikeyan Super Nova 31m21.515s 2. Kevin Giovesi Ghinzani +2.324s 3. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova +4.940s 4. Kimiya Sato Euronova +16.959s 5. Sergio Campana Ibiza +25.739s 6. Tamas Pal Kiss Ibiza +32.160s 7. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani +32.486s 8. Roberto La Rocca Comtec/Virtuosi +35.580s 9. Michela Cerruti MLR 71 +36.909s 10. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova +48.407s 11. Max Snegirev Virtuosi +54.762s 12. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP +57.748s 13. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 +1 lap 14. Andrea Roda Virtuosi +1 lap Retirements: Daniel de Jong Manor MP 0 laps
Nurburgring Auto GP: Narain Karthikeyan continues pole streak
Nurburgring Auto GP: Kevin Giovesi given grid penalty for race two