Nigel Melker took victory in the GP3 season opener at Istanbul Park after going from third to first with an impressive opening lap. The RSC Mucke driver picked off slow-starting polesitter Tom Dillmann (Carlin) at the first corner, and instantly picked up the chase of race leader Andrea Caldarelli (Tech 1).
Melker grabbed the lead by passing Caldarelli around the outside of Turn 12 at the end of the backstraight, and would hold on to the lead until the finish.
Caldarelli failed to capitalise on a mid-race safety car period – caused after Lewis Williamson collided with Leonardo Cordeiro and rolled at Turn 12. Williamson had been recovering from an early spin when he tried to pass MW Arden teammate Mitch Evans for sixth on the opening lap, but he and Cordeiro clashed under braking at the end of the backstraight and the Briton's car rolled at relatively low speed when it reached the gravel. But the bunching up of the field did not cause Melker any problems, as he made a good restart and crossed the line with a gap of 1.2 seconds to the snoozing Caldarelli. The Italian then closed up again in the final laps, but Melker held his nerve to take victory.
Behind them, Dillmann spent the whole race defending from ART's Valtteri Bottas, and he held on to take third. Antonio Felix da Costa (Status) climbed from 10th to fifth on the first lap and stayed there until the end, while behind him there was a bit more action.
Evans lost sixth place to Alexander Sims after the restart, but he got the place back on the penultimate lap as Sims's pace dropped. The Briton then had his hands full defending from Addax driver Dean Smith on the final lap, and as the pair scrapped into Turn 12, Mucke's Michael Christensen was able to get past them both to take seventh.