AUTO GP DONINGTON RACE 1: LANCASTER AND SUPERNOVA TAKE ALL
Racing at home had a very good effect on Jon Lancaster and SuperNova Racing: the British pair emerged from a treacherous Race 1 in Donington with a win for Jon and a one-two result for the team thanks to the 2nd place clinched by Luca Filippi, both boasting some great driving and a good strategy by the team.
Rain, as expected, fell on the Donington track making it so soaking wet that Race Direction was forced to opt for a start under Safety-Car. This made race tactics by the teams as important as outright pace: with the Safety-Car on track, completing the mandatory pit-stop as soon as the pit window opened seemed to be the best solution, and that's what SuperNova did with both cars, immediately on lap 4.
Lazarus did the same with Fabizio Crestani, as well as Ombra with Kevin Ceccon and Mp Motorsport with Daniel de Jong, names that ended the race in the top spots of the classification. This was because pitting so early they were able to make the most of the Safety-Car's slow pace to get back to the tail of the group, then passing their rivals while it was their turn to pit.
The only driver of the front pack that did choose a different strategy, pitting one lap later, was Adam Carroll and this cost him the race: he came back on track in P12, and he if he finished the race in fifth position it was just thanks to a great recovery that he made together with team mate Bruno Mendez.
In front, in the meantime, the race had some amazing moments: when the Safety-Car was called back into the pits, on lap 6, Filippi took the lead overtaking Haryanto (the only driver that opted for a very late pit-stop) on the outside in the downhill Craner section, and flew away easily gaining a 6 seconds advantage on the closest rival.
Anyway, Lancaster had just started his staggering recovery: 4th after his pit-stop, he first passed Kevin Ceccon at Coppice, and then made the most of a mistake by Crestani to take P2. Then he put Filippi in his crosshair and in just three laps he managed to clear a 4 seconds gap: as soon as he arrived on the Italian's tail he attacked and passed him at Coppice, leaving Luca no space for a reply. The Italian tried to keep the same pace in the first corner, but in half a lap Lancaster had already gained a 1" advantage so Luca decided to settle for 2nd, a good result for his Championship.
Crestani was third, clinching the second podium in a row after the Brno one: in the first part of the race Fabrizio seemed in the condition to challenge Filippi, but after the mistake that let Lancaster through he preferred to control the race, keeping the gap to Ceccon behind him. Kevin, from his side, did the same settling for a fourth place that strengthens his leadership in the Under 21 Trophy.
Carroll was sixth after an amazing recovery, and behind him was a surprising Daniel de Jong: the Dutchman took advantage of the fight between Carroll and Mendez to squeeze between the Campos pair: MP Motorsport used the same strategy as the winner and Daniel made the best use of it, with a quick but cautious drive that gave the team a result beyond their expectations on their debut event.
Eighth was Samuele Buttarelli for TP Formula: starting from third place on the grid he made a mistake in the Safety-Car period, going off at the bottom of the Craners and remaining nearly stuck in the gravel. Anyway he managed to rejoin, and in the last laps of the race emerged as the winner in a duel with Giovanni Venturini, grabbing a very important pole position for tomorrow's Race 2.
On the less lucky side of the race, Onidi went out with 4 laps to go hitting the barriers and suffering a displaced fracture of his right hand's metacarpus which will require surgery, while Adrian Campos Jr. couldn't start due to electrical issues.
Jon Lancaster:"Winning my home race at just my second Auto GP meeting is an incredible feeling. It wasn't an easy race, and starting with the Safety-Car was the right call, there was really a lot of water in the first minutes. Then at the pit-stop the race seemed gone: Filippi was in front so I had to pit behind him, meaning that I had to wait the SuperNova guys to change the tyres on his car before taking care of mine. Anyway, we thought that stopping immediately was so important that it was worth the disadvantage. Luckily, when I came out of the pits the car felt great, I pushed to see how it did feel and the quicker I was going the more confidence I was getting, so I started recovering at a rate that frankly was surprising even for myself. When I passed Luca I just flew away, it was really great".
Luca Filippi:"Stopping immediately was the right call, and after that the race seemed in my hand. Then Jon started his recovery with a pace that was frankly impressive, and when he passed me I had to choose what to do. I tried to follow him at first, but then I realized that he was really giving everything to clinch his first Auto GP win, and that I had to take too many risks to stay with him. I must think to my championship, so I decided to let him go, 2nd is a great result anyway".
Fabrizio Crestani:"We are again on the podium after Brno, and this pleases me as it means that we are starting to be consistent. When I saw the rain I was quite happy because usually I cope quite well with wet conditions, and indeed I was really quick at the start of the race: I was catching Filippi when I locked my front wheels and I went off at the hairpin, luckily being able to rejoin. Anyway at that point the gap was so big that I decided to settle for 3rd, it's a very good result for me and for the team".
Donington, 16 July, Race 11 Jon LANCASTER Supernova Racing 38:46.643, 129,97 km/h
2 Luca FILIPPI Supernova Racing +7.675
3 Fabrizio CRESTANI Lazarus +21.718
4 Kevin CECCON Ombra Racing +26.141
5 Adam CARROLL Campos Racing +27.716
6 Daniel DE JONG MP Motorsport +39.272
7 Bruno MENDEZ Campos Racing +43.294
8 Samuele BUTTARELLI TP Formula +53.953
9 Giovanni VENTURINI Griffitz Durango +1:11.664
10 Pasquale DI SABATINO TP Formula +1:11.973
11 Rio HARYANTO Dams +1:23.973
12 Giuseppe CIPRIANI Griffitz Durango +1 LAP
13 Fabio ONIDI Lazarus +4 LAPS
DNF Francesco DRACONE Ombra Racing
Fastest Lap: Jon LANCASTER, Supernova Racing 1:35.637
Drivers Standings:1. Filippi 92; 2. Ceccon 75; 3. Venturini 519; 4. Crestani 47; 5. Buttarelli, Onidi and Afanasiev 44; 8. Lancaster 43; 9. Tambay 40; 10. Haryanto 29.
Under 21 Standings:1. Ceccon 120; 2. Buttarelli 81; 3. Venturini 75; 4. Haryanto 66; 5. Mendez 61; 6. Tambay 57; 7. de Jong 18; 8. Bizzarri 10.
Team Standings:1. SuperNova 138; 2. DAMS 106; 3. Lazarus 91; 4. Ombra 81; 5. TP Formula 60; 6. Griffitz Durango and Campos Racing 53; 8. Mp Motorsport 8; 9. Emmebi 1.
All pictures Auto GP.
Fabrizio Crestani and Kevin Ceccon.
Daniel de Jong.
Pasquale Di Sabatino.
A very wet pits.
The Safety Car was called into use.
Lancaster takes the chequered flag.
A delighted Lancaster.
The Race 1 podium.