Pål Varhaug and Virtuosi UK made history today winning the first ever Auto GP race on USA soil. The Norwegian driver crossed the line with a 1”481 gap on second placed Daniel de Jong and three full seconds on 3rd placed Sergey Sirotkin after a race that was deeply influenced by an eventful start.

The race was expected to be a close fight between the first two rows of the grid but as the lights went out drama happened: after a good start by Quaife-Hobbs, Sirotkin and Pizzonia, the Brazilian driver of Zele Racing lost control of his car entering Turn 2, cutting on the grass and hitting the side of Adrian’s car heavily. Both had to retire from the race, and another contact between Cipriani, Dracone and Snegirev meant that the latter two also had to pull off.

The outcome of the crash was that Varhaug was now leading, and Sirotkin had dropped from 2nd to P4 in order to avoid the crash ahead of him; in the meantime with four cars stranded on track Race Direction had no other choice than deploying the Saftey-Car in order to give the marshals enough time to clear the track.

On lap 5, with the Safety-Car still on track, the whole field elected to pit: it was a key moment for de Jong and Sirotkin, who managed to overtake Ricci with two very quick pit-stops, the Italian dropping to fifth.

The restart of the race was given on lap 8 and Varhaug immediately started pushing, posting the fastest lap of the race twice in a row and stretching his gap near the 2” mark. From then on the Norwegian driver and his rivals lapped for the whole race on the same pace: de Jong pushed hard in order to try and close the gap (even beating Varhaug’s fastest lap by just 0.005) but he could never get closer than 1”5, and Sirotkin tried to chase the front duo while keeping a charging Campana at bay. After 21 laps they crossed the line in the same order, giving Varhaug the first Race 1 success of the season (he had already won Race 2 twice) ahead of Daniel and Sergey.

Campana was 4th with Zele Racing after a very consistent race, and finished ahead of Ricci. Serenelli was 6th on his return to the Series, ahead of Sakurai who crowned his Auto GP debut with a points finish ahead of Spavone. Auto GP deb Pippa Mann finished in the points too with 9th place, with Michele La Rosa rounding out the top ten.

The race also marked a milestone for SuperNova Racing: they had already clinched the drivers’ title in Curitiba, and today’s result gave the british outfit the teams title too, as math denies second placed MP Manor any chance of filling the gap in tomorrow’s Race 2.

Auto GP, Sonoma, Race 1
1 Pal VARHAUG Virtuosi UK 21 laps in 35:20.704, avg 143.73
2 Daniel DE JONG Manor MP Motorsport +1.481
3 Sergey SIROTKIN Euronova Racing +3.062
4 Sergio CAMPANA Zele Racing +4.190
5 Giacomo RICCI MLR 71 +12.875
6 Giancarlo SERENELLI Ombra Racing +24.124
7 Kotaro SAKURAI Euronova Racing +31.442
8 Antonio SPAVONE Ombra Racing +48.695
9 Pippa MANN Campos Racing +1:00.705
10 Michele LA ROSA MLR 71 +1:02.979
NC Giuseppe CIPRIANI Campos Racing
NC Adrian QUAIFE-HOBBS Supernova International
NC Antonio PIZZONIA Zele Racing
NC Francesco DRACONE Virtuosi UK
NC Max SNEGIREV Campos Racing
Fastest Lap: Lap 11 by Daniel DE JONG in 1:28.595, avg 163.83kph

Drivers Standings:
1. Quaife-Hobbs 206 (Champion)
2. Varhaug 175
3. Sirtokin 155
4. Van Der Drift 127
5. De Jong 97
6. Campana 78
7. Regalia 68
8. Guerin 46
9. Pizzonia 45
10. Ricci 40
11. Serenelli 34
12. Spavone 31
13. Snegirev 30
14. Cipriani 18
15. Pentus 14
16. Suzuki & Dracone 12
18. Cunha 8
19. Sakurai 6
20. Fong 4
21. Sistos & La Rosa 2.

Under 21 Standings:
1. Quaife-Hobbs 225;
2. Varhaug 197;
3. Sirotkin 196;
4. De Jong 128;
5. Regalia 96;
6. Spavone 84;
7. Guerin 66;
8. Cunha 24;
9. Sakurai 12;
10. Beretta 9;
11. Sistos 6.

Teams Standings:
1. SuperNova 252 (Champion);
2. MP Manor 224;
3. Virtuosi UK 184;
4. Euronova 177;
5. Campos Racing 117;
6. Ombra 107;
7. MLR71 74;
8. Zele Racing 56.

All Photos Auto GP.

Pål Varhaug.

Daniel De Jong.

Sergey Sirotkin.

Sergio Campana.

Giacomo Ricci.

Giancarlo Serenelli.

Kotaro Sakurai.

Antonio Spavone.

Pippa Mann.

Michele La Rosa.

The start.

Close racing.

Pål Varhaug celebrates his win.

Race 1 podium.