Silverstone FR3.5: Tio Ellinas dominates action-packed race

Strakka Racing's Tio Ellinas scored a breakthrough maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory in a breathless opening race of the weekend at Silverstone

Silverstone FR3.5: Tio Ellinas dominates action-packed race

From pole position, the Cypriot made an excellent getaway to extend a 14.5-second lead before half-distance.

The result is Ellinas' first win since the Abu Dhabi GP3 finale in 2013.

He was hit up the rear by fast-starting fourth qualifier Jazeman Jaafar into Maggotts on the opening lap, and damage to the nose of the Malaysian's Petronas-liveried car assisted Ellinas in making a break from the pack.

"It has been a couple of hard weeks as I just lost my grandfather, so this is a special victory," said Ellinas.

"It is really good for the team, as we have been quickest on Friday in several races this year, but things have been going wrong in qualifying because of traffic or other reasons.

"The competition in this series is huge, so I am not expecting to be beating Oliver Rowland and Matthieu Vaxiviere in all of the remaining races, but I am hoping we can stay in the top three."

Jaafar initially defended second position valiantly in a battle-scarred Fortec machine, but lost ground as the race unfolded and slipped to an eventual 10th.

In the closing laps, Ellinas paced himself to achieve an eight-second margin of victory over championship leader Rowland, who was engaged in a fierce scrap with title rival Vaxiviere at the beginning of the race.

"When I got ahead of Matthieu I was happy to finish there, but then I got past Tom Dillmann and Jazeman Jaafar in one move at The Loop," explained Rowland.

"It was difficult to know what to do behind Jaz, whether to attack him or defend your third position.

"Matthieu had his turn and then I had mine. It was really frantic but clean racing.

"The only contact was when I think Jaz hit Tio and then when Matthieu caught Jaz's rear wheel going onto the Wellington Straight."

Lotus racer Vaxiviere also sustained damage to his front wing after contact with Jaafar on lap seven. The Frenchman dropped to fifth place, but fought back and finally secured third place from Jaafar on lap 12.

Tom Dillmann was in the thick of the action and hunting for a podium for Carlin, but the Frenchman lost control and speared off the road at Becketts, dropping to ninth on lap 11.

As he clawed his way back through the field, Dillmann was rudely squeezed onto the grass by Ellinas' Strakka team-mate Gustav Malja on the approach to Brooklands.

Dillmann eventually secured fifth place by passing the Swede at Stowe on the penultimate lap.

Ahead of them, McLaren-backed DAMS driver Nyck de Vries finished fourth in a comparatively quiet run.

Rowland's runner-up position extends his lead in the drivers' standings to 184 points, 29 ahead of Vaxiviere.

Jaafar maintains third on 91, four points clear of Red Bull junior Dean Stoneman, who retired on the first lap after sustaining a left-rear puncture.

RESULTS - 24 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 42m07.547s
2 Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 8.025s
3 Matthieu Vaxiviere Lotus 9.017s
4 Nyck de Vries DAMS 19.947s
5 Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 21.459s
6 Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 24.387s
7 Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 35.177s
8 Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 35.563s
9 Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 39.122s
10 Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 43.841s
11 Pietro Fantin International Draco Racing 56.276s
12 Will Bratt Pons Racing 1m02.106s
13 Alfonso Celis AVF 1 Lap
14 Nick Yelloly Lotus 1 Lap
- Beitske Visser AVF Retirement
- Bruno Bonifacio International Draco Racing Retirement
- Philo Paz Armand Pons Racing Retirement
- Dean Stoneman DAMS Retirement
- Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Retirement
- Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing Retirement


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FR3.5 Silverstone: Tio Ellinas takes maiden pole position

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