James Calado took his and reigning champions Lotus ART’s first win of the 2011 season in an action packed race at the Valencia Street Circuit today.
The race was won from the start when the British driver made a clean getaway to retain the lead, and went unchallenged for the remainder of the 14-lap race. Calado is the sixth winner of the season, from six races, proving how competitive the young Series is.
When the lights went out for the early morning race start Calado made a good getaway at the front of grid to hold off his teammate Valtteri Bottas for the lead. Behind the ART duo Status Grand Prix’s Alexander Sims was defending hard, but was unable to stop a charging Dean Smith from taking third. The Addax driver then set his sights firmly on Bottas, whilst MW Arden’s Mitch Evans and Lewis Williamson were locked in battle with Adrian Quaife-Hobbs straight off the line.
By the end of lap 4, a hard charging Sims had passed both Bottas and Smith to take second. Running in fifth, Gaby Chaves was quick to capitalize on the battle ahead and overtook Smith who dropped into the clutches of Evans. Calado responded to his new second place challenger, and by the mid-way point of the race had pulled out a 3.9 second lead.
As Bottas settled into third spot, Smith was once again busy looking for a way passed his teammate Chaves leaving himself open for Evans to make a lunge and snatch fifth – the New Zealander then made light work of passing Chaves in the last corner for fourth. Smith then put a move on Chaves and this time it stuck.
As the end of the race approached the final battle came from Chaves, Williamson and Connor Daly with the latter hoping to score his first GP3 points for Carlin. The American and the Scot went wheel-to-wheel until Daly managed to get the upper hand. Further drama ensued when Smith was handed a drive through penalty for ignoring waved yellow flags, handing Daly the final points paying spot, but Daly was to go without when an ambitious, and ultimately fruitless, final move on Chaves let Williamson back through into sixth. And so Calado took a well earned victory ahead of Sims and Bottas; with Evans, Chaves and Williamson filling the remaining points paying spots.
Evans now has 26 points, and has now extended his lead in the Series to 4 points ahead of Nigel Melker. MW Arden continue to lead the teams’ table with 37 points.
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