Rio Haryanto took his first GP3 Series victory of the season today in a wet and wild race at Nürburgring. The Marussia Manor Racing driver finished ahead of MW Arden’s Lewis Williamson and Lotus ART’s Valtteri Bottas after an epic battle to the line which saw the lead change constantly during the final few laps with the top 3 fighting on slick tires on a wet track.
Drama ensued when light rain started to fall as the young drivers lined up on the starting grid. At the front of the field poleman Mitch Evans and Antonio Felix Da Costa both took a gamble and switched to wet tires before the start of the race, as did fourth place man Addax Team’s Tom Dillmann.
As the lights went out Evans went wide but held on to his lead. Behind the New Zealander Haryanto moved up into second as it quickly became clear that Felix Da Costa was going nowhere fast on wets as the rain stopped. By the end of sector 1 Evans was leading from Haryanto and Williamson – who moved up five spots at the start – while the Portuguese driver was already down to sixth. Bottas had a storming start from eleventh on the grid and was soon fighting for the final podium spot.
Felix Da Costa’s race was to go from bad to worse as the Status driver was given a ten second stop and go penalty for not having his wheels fitted at the three minute race start warning. As the rest of the drivers tried to find their rhythm in the tricky conditions Evans was holding onto his lead by 1.1 seconds from Williamson who had passed Haryanto, and Bottas was in third. But any hopes the New Zealander had of becoming the first GP3 driver to win two races this season were dashed when midway through the race he was also handed a ten second stop and go penalty for the same reason as Felix da Costa. Evans eventually rejoined the race down in twenty-fourth handing the lead to Williamson.
For the final 5 laps of the race the heavens opened and an epic battle for the victory begun. Leader Williamson, Haryanto and Bottas all opted to stay out on track on slicks while most of the field entered the pits to change to wets. And as it turned out, fortune favored the brave. The battle saw the lead change multiple times but it was Haryanto who eventually hung on to the top spot. Williamson crossed the line in second and despite a last minute charge from his teammate James Calado, Bottas took the final podium spot. Race 2 will see an all front row for Tech 1 Racing with Tamas Pal Kiss lining up on pole ahead of Aaro Vainio.
Next up for GP3 Series is Race 2 tomorrow morning at 08:20 local time.
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