A stunning drive from Dean Stoneman saw him secure his second win of the 2014 GP3 Series season after qualifying from P11 on the grid. A race of strategy saw drivers switching from wet to slicks before the lights went out, but it was Brit’ Stoneman who handled the pressure to drive a mature race to be triumphant in Belgium. ART Grand Prix’s Dino Zamparelli and Status Grand Prix’s Nick Yelloly completed the podium.
Rain had fallen prior to race one but conditions had improved before the lights went out – giving drivers and teams the tricky call of which tyre to start the race on. The first six drivers opted for wet with a large majority of the rest of the field starting on wets. Unfortunately for Marvin Kirchhöfer, he would not make it past the formation lap after spinning and making contact with the barrier.
Series leader Alex Lynn and title contender Richie Stanaway both made late calls to switch to the dry rubber before the lights went out, therefore starting from the pitlane. Trident debutant Luca Ghiotto in his first race weekend started from pole position but it was Emil Bernstorff (Carlin) who made a traditional good start to snatch the lead from second on the grid. Patric Niederhauser made contact with Jimmy Eriksson into Turn 1, which ended both of their races prematurely.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Kevin Ceccon and Hilmer Motorsport’s Nelson Mason made excellent starts into fourth and fifth whilst third place for Patrick Kujala was short lived after he spun and retired on the opening lap. Race leader Bernstorff pitted for slicks after the first lap, handing Ghiotto the lead.
Mathéo Tuscher in sixth was the first amongst the pack on slick tyres who began to carve his way up the order, with Stoneman hot on his heels. The Swiss rookie moved up to second as the drivers in front of him began to pit or fall back through the order with wet tyres no longer the best tyre to be on. After four laps, the Jenzer Motorsport driver passed Ghiotto for P1. The Italian then pitted for new rubber with Stoneman and Zamparelli in second and third.
Tuscher held a 2.9s margin over Stoneman with a further ten seconds back to Zamparelli. The Swiss was soon to be heartbroken, making an error on the approach of Eau Rouge and losing control – he managed to avoid the barrier with his spin but couldn’t re-start his car. As his Jenzer Motorsport car was in a dangerous position, the safety car was deployed for several laps whilst it was removed.
P1 was in the hands of Stoneman who had looked racy from the outset and he pulled out a one second gap to Zamparelli. After an eventful race, it was Stoneman and Marussia Manor Racing’s turn to celebrate after a brilliant win in challenging conditions. Zamparelli added another rostrum to his bow, awaiting his elusive maiden victory, with Yelloly coming home in third. Jann Mardenborough, Pal Varhaug, Alex Fontana, Stanaway, Lynn, Bernstorff and Riccardo Agostini completed the top ten. Stoneman pocketed the extra points on offer for fastest lap too.
Carlin and Red Bull Junior Team driver Lynn will start tomorrow’s race from reverse pole. Lynn remains on top of the Drivers’ Standings, with the deficit to Stanaway in second dropping to 29 points. Yelloly has moved up to third in the standings ahead of Bernstorff and Eriksson. Status Grand Prix close in on Carlin in the Teams’ Standings, with ART Grand Prix in third.
After a scintillating race today, tomorrow promises to provide yet another epic encounter – catch it at 09.25 local time tomorrow.
Spa-Francorchamps – Race 1
1. Dean Stoneman Marussia Manor Racing
2. Dino Zamparelli ART Grand Prix
3. Nick Yelloly Status Grand Prix
4. Jann Mardenborough Arden International
5. Pal Varhaug Jenzer Motorsport
6. Alex Fontana ART Grand Prix
7. Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix
8. Alex Lynn Carlin
9. Emil Bernstorff Carlin
10. Riccardo Agostini Hilmer Motorsport
11. Kevin Ceccon Jenzer Motorsport
12. Alfonso Celis. Jr Status Grand Prix
13. Santiago Urrutia Koiranen GP
14. Ryan Cullen Marussia Manor Racing
15. Nelson Mason Hilmer Motorsport
16. Luis Sa Silva Carlin
17. Carmen Jorda Koiranen GP
18. Luca Ghiotto Trident
19. Sébastian Balthasar Hilmer Motorsport
20. John Bryant-Meisner Trident
Fastest Lap : Matheo Tuscher (Jenzer Motorsport) : 2 :10.452 on lap 7
Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport
Robert Visoiu Arden International
Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP
Patrick Kujala Marussia Manor Racing
Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix