Cypriot Tio Ellinas won the first race of the second-generation GP3 Series at Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, fending off late-race pressure from Patric Niederhauser and Conor Daly.
Pole-sitter Ellinas stormed into the lead at the start in his Marussia machine, and quickly pulled away from Jenzer's Niederhauser. He extended a 3.8-second lead by half distance, but pre-race predictions that the 17-lap race would be decided by tire management turned out to be true.
Niederhauser closed the gap relentlessly in the second half of the race, and with three laps to go Ellinas's big lead had all but disappeared. But try as he might, Niederhauser just could not find a way past over the closing few laps as he too struggled for grip.
Ellinas held on to win by 0.428sec, with ART man Daly, who was almost 5s in arrears at one point, also within a second of the victor at the checkered flag.
Nick Yelloly finished a distant fourth, having been caught up behind Red Bull Junior Daniil Kvyat for the opening eight laps. Once past him, Yelloly pulled well clear, with Kvyat dropping like a stone to 20th by the finish as his tires turned to mush.
Aaro Vainio finished fifth, ahead of Jack Harvey, who just held off David Fumanelli for sixth. Kevin Korjus, who would have started from pole but for a yellow flag transgression in practice, finished eighth and will start Sunday's reversed-grid race from pole.
Dino Zamparelli was challenging Korjus for that spot when he misjudged a move at Turn 5 and flew over the back of him, removing his right-front wheel.
Results - 17 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Tio Ellinas Manor 28m06.022s
2. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer + 0.428s
3. Conor Daly ART + 0.940s
4. Nick Yelloly Carlin + 9.726s
5. Aaro Vainio Koiranen + 16.925s
6. Jack Harvey ART + 23.006s
7. David Fumanelli Trident + 23.572s
8. Kevin Korjus Koiranen + 28.615s
9. Robert Visoiu MW Arden + 29.053s
10. Alex Fontana Jenzer + 29.426s
11. Lewis Williamson Bamboo + 29.669s
12. Giovanni Venturini Trident + 30.832s
13. Luis Sa Silva Carlin + 37.044s
14. Melville McKee Bamboo + 37.277s
15. Carlos Sainz Jr MW Arden + 51.669s
16. Samin Gomez Jenzer + 51.949s
17. Emanuele Zonzini Trident + 52.325s
18. Eric Lichtenstein Carlin + 52.759s
19. Jimmy Eriksson Status + 53.858s
20. Daniil Kvyat MW Arden + 1m08.691s
21. Ryan Cullen Manor + 1m09.967s
22. Carmen Jorda Bamboo + 1m10.626s
23. Adderly Fong Status + 1m14.398s
24. Facu Regalia ART + 2 laps
Driver Team Laps
Dino Zamparelli Manor 14
Patrick Kujala Koiranen 10
Josh Webster Status 6