Hegewald secures commanding maiden victory
Tobias Hegewald took a commanding maiden win at Spa-Francorchamps this afternoon (Saturday), ahead of Andy Soucek and Miloš Pavlović.
The race got off to a dramatic start when Robert Wickens failed to get away from the line. It looked as though the whole pack would be able to avoid him but Jason Moore collected him at speed, spreading the track with debris and bringing the safety car out for two laps.
At the restart, Soucek tried desperately to get past Hegewald but ended up running off the circuit at Les Combes. The Spaniard held on to his second place, but baulked Julien Jousse as he returned to circuit. Pavlović managed to overtake Jousse in the process and the two went on to enjoy a race-long battle.
Philipp Eng and Alex Brundle both retired after coming together in an incident that also involved Jolyon Palmer, whilst the trio fought for sixth place. Palmer suffered wing damage and eventually dropped down the order.
At the flag, Hegewald had increased his lead to four seconds to take his first victory of the season. Soucek was able to take a comfortable second as Pavlović came under increasing pressure from Jousse, but the Serbian defended gallantly to take a well deserved podium.
Behind Jousse came the British pair of Jack Clarke and Tom Gladdis - both drivers enjoying storming drives from 12th and 15th respectively on the grid to score top six finishes. Henri Karjalainen and Edoardo Piscopo also enjoyed similarly exciting races, making several overtaking maneuvers on their way to seventh and eighth. Mirko Bortolotti and Kazim Vasiliauskas rounded out the top ten - narrowly missing out on championship points.
Soucek now leads the championship standings, having moved to 23 points ahead of Bortolotti and Jousse on 21. Wickens is currently fourth on 20 points. Round six will take place tomorrow at 15:05.
Tobias Hegewald said: "I'm just hoping for more of the same tomorrow! My first two weekends unfortunately weren't so good, but hopefully now I am running better and I have put myself into championship contention. I was under a bit of pressure from Andy but I managed to get a gap and relax towards the end."
Andy Soucek said: "I tried to overtake Tobias in the early laps, at the start and after the Safety Car, but I saw he was too quick and I couldn't match his rhythm. I had a few big moments - including going across the grass at the chicane - so I decided to settle for second and with it the championship lead. I have to apologize to Julien Jousse because he had to avoid me when I went over the grass and he ended up losing third to Miloš. I'm happy with my race and the result, but I do have to apologize for this move."
Milos Pavlović said: "I really wanted a podium today and I pushed hard to get it. Maybe I was fortunate to get past Julien in the way I did, but I took my chances and the race went well. I got a really good start and was alongside Julien Jousse going into the first corner, and after I got by him I couldn't catch Andy so I just guided it home to third. I know I have to improve my feel for the car, but after this result I'm confident I can get there."
Race One results:
1. Tobias Hegewald, 11 laps
2. Andy Soucek, +4.149s
3. Milos Pavlovic, +7.896s
4. Julien Jousse, +8.619s
5. Jack Clarke, +19.406s
6. Tom Gladdis, +19.955s
7. Henri Karjalainen, +21.720s
8. Edoardo Piscopo, +27.003s
9. Mirko Bortolotti, +34.193s
10. Kazim Vasiliauskas, +36.390s