ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Gutierrez sailed to victory around the streets of Valencia. The Mexican dominated the race from the start and increased his Series lead to 16 points.
It was the perfect getaway for Gutiérrez and Status GP’s Robert Wickens, with both drivers managing to avoid the start line chaos that ensued behind them. After his previous disappointing race starts RSC Mucke Motorsport’s Nigel Melker held onto his fourth spot and was up the inside of third place man Jean-Eric Vergne at Tech 1, but sadly his change of fortune was short lived and the Dutchman was involved in an incident with Addax Teams’ Felipe Guimaraes. Further incidents on the opening lap saw five more race casualties including ART Grand Prix Series frontrunner Alexander Rossi. Michael Christensen had a good start making the most of the incidents in front of him and putting pressure on Jean-Eric Vergne for third. However, by lap 4 the yellow flags were waving after the Dane pushed a bit too hard and hit barrier all on his own prematurely ending his race.
Meanwhile Gutiérrez was banging in fastest laps and pulling out a gap over Wickens in second spot. Further down the field MW Arden’s Miki Monras, Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto and Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Muller were jostling for fifth spot. RSC Mucke Motorsport’s Tobias Hegewald was locked in battle with a Manor Racing’s James Jakes – the British driver making an outstanding start from 27th on the grid – giving Tech 1 Racing’s Stefano Coletti the perfect opportunity to slip up behind the two feuding racers.
At the mid way point Gutiérrez was leading Wickens by 2.5 seconds, Monras was out on his own in fifth and the battle for sixth was raging between Haryanto and Muller. Atech CRS GP’s Roberto Merhi had also move up into third ahead of Vergne. Man on a mission Jakes overtook Hegewald for the coveted 8th spot, and the Brit then pulled away from the German giving him the final point of the race and reverse pole position for Race 2 tomorrow. Hegewald then nearly lost his ninth place finish from a charging Coletti, but the RSC Mucke driver managed to hold on until the checkered flag.
Out in front Wickens had been putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, but the leading man responded on his final lap of the race posting the best lap time of the race and taking a bonus point to help increase his Series points tally even further to 35 and even further reward his hard-working team who managed to have his car ready and flying for the race although he had crashed it earlier this morning in the barrier during qualifications. Wickens has moved up into second spot with 19 points, with ART driver Rossi now trailing the Canadian by 2 points. Race 2 action starts tomorrow morning at 09:25 local time, and after today’s action packed race you won’t want to miss it.
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