Abu Dhabi GP3: Kirchhofer wins after points leader Ocon penalised

Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon was handed a five-second penalty in the opening GP3 race of the weekend in Abu Dhabi, gifting victory to his ART Grand Prix team-mate Marvin Kirchhofer

Abu Dhabi GP3: Kirchhofer wins after points leader Ocon penalised

Ocon made a decent start from pole but so did fellow front-row starter Kevin Ceccon.

Ceccon was able to get alongside the Frenchman and was looking to make a move on the inside of Turn 1.

Ocon, however, ran wide and rejoined the track ahead of Ceccon.

The stewards investigated the incident and came to the decision that Ocon did gain an advantage, and he was subsequently handed a five-second time penalty.

This would have been music to title rival Luca Ghiotto's ears as he had a poor start, falling down to sixth from fourth on the grid.

Ghiotto was slow off the line and was immediately demoted by a fast-starting Emil Bernstorff.

Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson also made the most of a good run out of Turn 1 to take fifth away from Ghiotto on the outside of Turn 2.

Out front when told of his penalty, Ocon set consecutive fastest laps to try to build a big enough gap, and salvage as many points as he could.

Ultimately Ocon could not pull far enough away from team-mate Kirchhofer, which meant the German was gifted his fifth win of the season.

Kirchhofer did have to work for it, though, coming under immense pressure from Bernstorff throughout.

His job was made slightly easier when Ceccon retired from second halfway through the race with mechanical problems, which brought out the virtual safety car.

From that point on the ART driver was able to keep his cool and he crossed the line 0.6 seconds clear of the Brit.

Eriksson was a close third, after defending hard from Ghiotto early in the race.

Ghiotto finished more than five seconds down on his rival in fifth, meaning Ocon finished ahead of him, and extended his championship lead in the process.

Ocon, who defiantly parked his Dallara in the number one spot in parc ferme after the race, will start Sunday's season finale leading by six points.

After his poor start, Trident driver Ghiotto was pushing hard to make amends.

He wasn't able to make any progress, though. He locked up twice going into Turn 17, while trying to hunt down Eriksson for fourth.

This meant he kept falling back into the clutches of Matt Parry, who he was able to fend off on several occasions.

Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco fended off Campos Racing's Alex Palou for seventh.

Fuoco, who was embroiled in an early off track excursion with Parry, edged out Palou by 0.6s.

Palou will start Sundays race from reverse grid pole position, after holding off a late charge from Matevos Isaakyan in ninth.

Arthur Janosz completed the points paying positions in tenth.

RESULTS - 18 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix 38m13.565s
2 Emil Bernstorff Arden International 0.618s
3 Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP 1.299s
4 Esteban Ocon ART Grand Prix 1.973s
5 Luca Ghiotto Trident 5.407s
6 Matt Parry Koiranen GP 6.694s
7 Antonio Fuoco Carlin 14.728s
8 Alex Palou Campos Racing 15.382s
9 Matevos Isaakyan Koiranen GP 15.946s
10 Artur Janosz Trident 17.538s
11 Pal Varhaug Jenzer Motorsport 18.810s
12 Ralph Boschung Jenzer Motorsport 19.274s
13 Seb Morris Status Grand Prix 20.244s
14 Mitch Gilbert Carlin 21.205s
15 Alex Fontana Status Grand Prix 21.760s
16 Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport 24.542s
17 Sandy Stuvik Status Grand Prix 32.754s
18 Alex Bosak Arden International 36.882s
19 Zaid Ashkanani Campos Racing 39.805s
20 Michele Beretta Trident 1m43.964s
- Kevin Ceccon Arden International Retirement
- Alfonso Celis ART Grand Prix Retirement
- Adderly Fong Carlin Retirement
- Konstantin Tereschenko Campos Racing Not started


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Abu Dhabi GP3: Mercedes' Ocon takes pole and championship lead

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