OSCHERLEBEN AUTO GP RACE 1: UNSTOPPABLE AFANASIEV
Sergei Afanasiev shines again in Auto GP: the Russian driver, who just two weeks ago had to miss the Donington round due to problems in obtaining a visa, passed from bad to good clinching a dominating win (the second of his season) in the first race of the Oschersleben weekend.
Sergei boasted a performance that left no room for his rivals to reply and that launches him back in contention for the title, as he's now third, 28 points adrift from Filippi. The most delicate phase of the race was the start, as the two sides of the grid showed very different grip, with wet spots off the racing line.
Crestani was starting from pole on the dry side of the track, and this allowed him a perfect start: behind, anyway, the others were immediately fighting for position. Buttarelli emerged from P6 to P2, but then he braked too late and slipped on the wet, collecting the Lazarus driver who could do nothing to avoid the crash.
With the two rivals already out, Sergei Afanasiev took the lead ahead of Adrien Tambay, who boasted an incredible start passing from 7th place on the grid to second. The Russian driver of DAMS, anyway, quickly built a gap racing on a pace that was steadily half a second quicker than anybody else. Thing changed right after the pit-stop, when a change in the balance of the cars forced Sergei to slow down a bit allowing Tambay, who was pushing really hard, to catch him: Adrien tried a move at the braking zone for the first corner and the two were really close for a couple of laps, but then Afanasiev started pushing again, posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 22 and winning the race.
Behind them, the fight for 3rd position was as exciting: at the beginning of the race the duel was between Fabio Onidi and Kevin Ceccon, with the Lazarus driver pushing really hard despite his fractured hand: he passed the 17 year-old rival at the last corner on lap 1, and then kept 3rd place until it was time for the mandatory pit-stop: Ceccon pitted on lap 14 and his tyre change wasn't really quick but Onidi's one, on lap 16, was slower due to some issues with the rear right tyre: Kevin Korjus, who had been 5th until that moment, made the most of the situation and with a very quick pit-stop by DAMS he took third place. Anyway his tyres were still cold, and Onidi felt that he was quicker than him: Fabio tried an outside move but Korjus closed the door, and Ceccon made the most of the open gap to dive on the inside, securing P4. The trio had a close fight for some laps, until Korjus' car stopped at the exit of Turn 7, probably due to an electrical glitch.
Ceccon defended himself from Onidi in the last laps to clinch third place, while Fabio can be very happy of his P4 finish: he was coming to this weekend with no expectations because of the injury, so this is definitely a great result. Behind them were a very consistent Adrian Campos Jr, 6th for the most of the race, and Daniel de Jong, who passed from 11th place to sixth thanks to an early pit-stop strategy by MP Motorsport. The Dutchman finished ahead of Pasquale Di Sabatino, who survived a first lap contact with Francesco Dracone, and Giovanni Venturini, who will start from pole position in tomorrow's Race 2.
Sergei Afanasiev:"I knew that at the start there could have been issues with the damp side of the track, so I was very careful. After that my rivals helped me going out the race wasn't easy anyway, especially after the pit-stop. The team mounted me new rear tyres and this changed the car's balance, while Adrien was really quick after his pit-stop and catched up. Anyway I managed to control him, and when my balance was good again I started pushing as much as I could. I'm really happy of this win, clinching it after missing Donington makes it even better!".
Adrien Tambay:"I think that everything was due to the balance of our cars. His was a bit better at the start and much better in the central part of the race, but after the pit-stop he was having understeer while I could push easily, so I got back on his tail. Anyway I didn't have a real chance to attack him, and when he was able to push again I couldn't go quicker. Anyway I think that 2nd place starting from P7 is very good! My start? It wasn't anything special, I knew what the track conditions were and so I started very cautiously, as I do when I'm in the pitlane. This allowed me to pass everybody while their wheels where still spinning...".
Kevin Ceccon:"The key moment of my race was at the pit-stop, when Korjus came back on track in front of me and Onidi. Fabio tried the outside and when I saw that gap on the inside I went for it and I overtook him for P4. Then Kevin was just unlucky, his car just stopped exiting a corner, and I had to avoid him. Then controlling Onidi wasn't too difficult, and I took a third place finish that makes me really happy, because now I'm really close to Filippi. With a good race tomorrow I can take the lead of the championship, that's my aim now".
Race 11 Sergei AFANASIEV Dams 24 laps in 32'58"137
2 Adrien TAMBAY Campos Racing +0.644
3 Kevin CECCON Ombra Racing +16.135
4 Fabio ONIDI Lazarus +19.329
5 Adrian CAMPOS-JR Campos Racing +24.415
6 Daniel De JONG MP Motorsport +28.249
7 Pasquale DI SABATINO TP Formula +31.690
8 Giovanni VENTURINI Griffitz Durango +34.183
9 Bruno MENDEZ Campos Racing +1 lap
10 Kevin KORJUS Dams +2 laps
DNF Francesco DRACONE Ombra Racing
DNF Fabrizio CRESTANI Lazarus
DNF Giuseppe CIPRIANI Griffitz Durango
DNF Samuele BUTTARELLI TP Formula
Fastest lap Sergei AFANASIEV, Dams, in 1:18.846, avg 168.75kph
Drivers Standings:1. Filippi 98; 2. Ceccon 95; 3. Afanasiev 70; 4. Buttarelli 62; 5. Crestani & Tambay 58; 7. Venturini 57; 8. Onidi 56; 9. Lancaster 51; 10. Haryanto 29.
Under 21 Standings:1. Ceccon 152; 2. Buttarelli 99; 3. Venturini 97; 4. Tambay 82; 5. Haryanto 72; 6. Mendez 71; 7. de Jong 41; 8. Bizzarri 10; 9. Korjus 8.
Teams Standings:1. SuperNova 152; 2. DAMS 133; 3. Lazarus 113; 4. Ombra 101; 5. Campos Racing 94; 6. TP Formula 84; 7. Griffitz Durango 59; 8. Mp Motorsport 17; 9. Emmebi 1.
All pictures Auto GP.
Adrian Campos Jr.
Daniel de Jong.
Pasquale di Sabatino.
Samuele Buttarelli and Fabrizio Crestani were both eliminated on the opening lap.
A delighted Sergei Afanasiev greets his team.
The Race 1 podium.