Patric Niederhauser won the second GP3 Series race of the weekend at Valencia. It was his first victory in the category and it also makes him the fifth different winner from six races.
From pole on the reversed grid, Swiss driver Niederhauser got a shock when Lotus GP's Daniel Abt made a lightning getaway from third. Abt led through Turn 1, but Niederhauser retook the lead at Turn 2 and pulled away.
Reigning Formula Abarth champion Niederhauser, who is a first-year driver in GP3, extended his lead to 1.8sec by half distance, and then controlled the gap, which was 0.9sec at the finish.
Behind Abt, there was a fierce battle for third. It will be decided in the stewards room, but on the track it was Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor) who took the position. He forced longtime third-place man Kevin Ceccon of Ocean off the track after a huge lunge at the final corner on the last lap. Ceccon dropped to fifth, as Mathias Laine (Arden) also leapt ahead on the run to the finish line. Previously, Ellinas and Ceccon had banged wheels through the opening corners of the final lap, so there will be plenty for the stewards to mull over before making a decision on whether the result stands.
Yesterday's winner Mitch Evans, celebrating his 18th birthday, finished sixth to double his championship lead over title rival Aaro Vainio of Lotus to four points. Vainio, who started ahead of him, lost out to Evans in the opening corners, but got ahead with a smart move at Turn 4 on lap 3, which levelled their points.
But a move on Laine, which would have given him the points lead, went wrong at Turn 2, and after outbraking himself, he grazed the barrier as Evans shot past him. Vainio finished a distant seventh, ahead of Carlin's Antonio Felix da Costa, who set fastest lap on a brilliant drive from the back of the grid after he was given a 10-place grid penalty for a misdemeanor yesterday.
Results - 14 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer + 28m13.702s
2. Daniel Abt Lotus + 0.924s
3. Tio Ellinas Manor + 5.938s
4. Matias Laine MW Arden + 6.314s
5. Kevin Ceccon Ocean + 6.589s
6. Mitch Evans MW Arden + 6.940s
7. Aaro Vainio Lotus + 9.959s
8. Antonio Felix da Costa Carlin + 15.020s
9. Will Buller Carlin + 19.751s
10. Tamas Pal Kiss Atech CRS + 23.761s
11. Marlon Stockinger Status + 24.396s
12. Robert Visouiu Jenzer + 26.251s
13. Robert Cregan Ocean + 26.330s
14. Alex Brundle Carlin + 28.954s
15. Dmity Suranovich Manor + 33.481s
16. David Fumanelli MW Arden + 34.148s
17. Antonio Spavone Trident + 37.558s
18. Vicky Piria Trident + 46.606s
19. Fabiano Machado Manor + 56.689s
Conor Daly Lotus 8 laps
John Wartique Atech CRS 2 laps
Carmen Jorda Ocean 0 laps
Ethen Ringel Atech CRS 0 laps
Alice Powell Status 0 laps