Japanese driver victorious in Barcelona
Nirei Fukuzumi has dominated his rivals for his first GP3 Series win this afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, leading a close fight with ART teammate Jack Aitken before the Briton suffered a mechanical gremlin which eased the pressure on the Japanese driver, who then flew to a 7 second victory over Leonardo Pulcini and Alessio Lorandi.
The race took place under scorching conditions, with front row starters Aitken and Fukuzumi storming off when the lights went out towards turn one: the Honda development driver had the outside line as they ran three abreast with Dorian Boccolacci and nabbed the lead into turn two, with the Frenchman running wide at turn two and allowing Pulcini a run through to P3.
Aitken and Fukuzumi were swapping fastest laps as they looked for any advantage over the other, pulling away from the rest of the field as they did, while further back Lorandi was on a charge: moving up a spot to P6 off the line, the Italian mugged Arjun Maini for 5th on lap 9 and ran through Boccolacci 4 laps later as the battle for the lead intensified.
But the fight came to an end on lap 16 as Aitken stuttered on track before being slowly swallowed up by his pursuers as he limped back to the pits and retirement: with the pressure now off Fukuzumi soared to the flag, while the battle shifted to the two Italian rivals behind him. Lorandi was all over the rear wing of his countryman for the closing laps, but to no avail: Pulcini was impervious to attack and punched the air as he crossed the line in P2.
Behind them George Russell had stayed out of trouble and preserved his tyres to push up to 4th place at the flag, just holding off teammate Anthoine Hubert as he did so, while Boccolacci will have picked up a lot of lessons on his way to P6, denying Maini at the end of the race. Further back Campos pair Raoul Hyman and Marcos Siebert had a huge fight over the closing laps for team bragging rights, with the South African just holding on for 8th and reverse pole when Santino Ferrucci got in the mix, nicking P9 from Siebert at the final corner.
Race 1 Provisional Classification
|1.||Nirei Fukuzumi||ART Grand Prix|
|2.||Leonardo Pulcini||Arden International||7.433|
|3.||Alessio Lorandi||Jenzer Motorsport||7.889|
|4.||George Russell||ART Grand Prix||11.807|
|5.||Anthoine Hubert||ART Grand Prix||12.159|
|7.||Arjun Maini||Jenzer Motorsport||14.906|
|8.||Raoul Hyman||Campos Racing||30.986|
|10.||Marcos Siebert||Campos Racing||31.357|
|11.||Julien Falchero||Campos Racing||31.912|
|15.||Niko Kari||Arden International||35.996|
|18.||Steijn Schothorst||Arden International||39.412|
|Jack Aitken||ART Grand Prix|