Antonio Pizzonia completed his dream comeback in the single-seater scenario with a dominating flag to flag win in the first race of the Curitiba Auto GP weekend.

The Brazilian driver made a slingshot getaway from P3 and made the most of a bad start by front row-runners Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Chris Van der Drift to take the lead, then drifting away lap after lap: his gap on the followers grew at a pace of nearly one second per lap and got as big as 6” before the mandatory pit-stop, allowing him to control Pål Varhaug’s comeback in the second half of the race.

The Norwegian driver also got a great start from P4 and kept second place for the whole race. In the early stages he had to fend off attacks by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, but as the laps passed his pace got better and better, allowing him to build a little gap on the Brit. Then a really quick pit-stop by the Virtuosi UK crew launched him back in contention for the win, as he exited the pits just 1” adrift from Pizzonia.

Pål tried his best to give the home hero an hard time, but Antonio’s pace was just too quick for him to try an overtaking move.

Sergey Sirotkin was third after a great start and a late pit-stop strategy that gave him the chance to run in clean air in the late part of the race, closing with a big gap on fourth placed Daniel de Jong.

The young Dutchman drove an aggressive race, posted the fastest lap and gained the upper hand in a duel with team mate Chris Van der Drift, who finished 5th six seconds adrift.

The Kiwi driver had his share of worries in keeping Adrian Quaife-Hobbs at bay: the championship leader had the chance to seal the title today but after the start more bad news came for him: a problem with the rear-right wheelnut at the pit-stop meant that the SuperNova crew lost 15” in the tyre change and, even if Adrian pushed as much as he could to recover, Van der Drift’s good defensive drive stopped him in P6.

As a consequence the Brit still needs to gain 5 points on Varhaug if he wants to close the title fight in Brazil without risking surprises in the last round of the championship in Sonoma.

Rafael Suzuki crowned a very good Auto GP debut with a P7 finish after running as high as 5th in the early part of the race, and closed the race ahead of Francesco Dracone and Michele La Rosa, the latter grabbing the first points finish of his season.

Curitiba, 21 July, Race 1
1 Antonio PIZZONIA Ombra Racing 23 laps in 28:51.68
2 Pal VARHAUG Virtuosi UK +1.142
3 Sergey SIROTKIN Euronova Racing +5.104
4 Daniel DE JONG Manor MP Motorsport +17.299
5 Chris VAN DER DRIFT Manor MP Motorsport +23.755
6 Adrian QUAIFE-HOBBS Supernova International +24.065
7 Rafael SUZUKI Ombra Racing +33.184
8 Francesco DRACONE Virtuosi UK +55.201
9 Michele LA ROSA MLR 71 +1:07.697
10 Max SNEGIREV Campos Racing +7 LAPS
11 Sergio CAMPANA Euronova Racing +10 LAPS

Drivers Standings:
1. Quaife-Hobbs 205;
2. Varhaug 141;
3. Sirotkin 130;
4. Van der Drift 112;
5. Regalia 68;
6. De Jong 66;
7. Campana 63;
8. Guerin 46;
9. Ricci 30;
10. Spavone 27.

Under 21 Standings:
1. Quaife-Hobbs 224;
2. Sirotkin 166;
3. Varhaug 160;
4. Regalia 96;
5. De Jong 89;
6. Spavone 74;
7. Guerin 66;
8. Cunha 24;
9. Beretta 9;
10. Sistos 6.

Teams Standings:
1. SuperNova 251;
2. MP Manor 178;
3. Euronova 155;
4. Virtuosi Uk 148;
5. Campos Racing 110;
6. Ombra 69;
7. MLR71 63;
8. Zele Racing 44.

All Photos Auto GP.

Antonio Pizzonia.

Pål Varhaug.

Sergey Sirotkin.

Daniel De Jong.

Chris Van Der Drift.

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

Rafael Suzuki.

Francesco Dracone.

Michele La Rosa.

Max Snegirev.

The start.

Close racing.

Antonio Pizzonia celebrates his win.

The Race 2 podium.