Varhaug takes Race 2 win in Monza thriller
The second winner of the World Series era of Auto GP is Pal Varhaug: the Norwegian driver brought newcomers Virtuosi UK to a stunning victory after a thriller race that saw him recover from P7 on the grid, thanks to a great pace and a lightning quick pit-stop by the team. The early part of the race was led by Max Snegirev, taking a good start from P2 and so preceding Giacomo Ricci, Chris Van der Drift, Facu Regalia, reverse poleman Antonio Spavone and Varhaug into first corner.
The first laps immediately saw the Norwegian pass Spavone for fifth and start chasing the front-runners, while in the group there were some good fights: at the front Ricci tried to put pressure on Snegirev with no effect, while behind Sergio Campana and Sergey Sirotkin exchanged places twice between Parabolica and Prima Variante.
Anyway, the pit-stop had a big effect on the running order: Snegirev was among the first to pit but then struggled on cold tires, while Ricci lost time in the tire change. In the meantime both Virtuosi UK and Manor MP Motorsport executed two perfect pit-stops launching Varhaug and Van der Drift to first and second place respectively.
From then on Varhaug's leadership was never in doubt as the Virtuosi UK driver pulled away boasting a pace that nobody could match. With Van der Drift keeping P2 with a safe margin, the attention switched to the pack behind them. As Spavone emerged third from the pit-stop Ricci passed him at the first chicane braking on lap 10, but when Campana tried to do the same the MLR71 driver outbraked himself and jumped the chicane, then hitting the back of Ricci's car and putting an end to the race of both.
Spectators had just to wait for another two laps to witness another first chicane fight: this time it was a five car pack coming in attack mood at the braking zone, but Victor Guerin missed the braking point and hit Spavone, luckily with little damage for the Italian. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Sergey Sirotkin made the most of that to clinch third and fourth place, and started fighting for the last podium spot until the last lap: eventually it was the brit who got it, but the gap between the two on the finish line was just 0.07!
So Quaife-Hobbs finished third from a P8 start, while Sirotkin closed in 4th place after starting from seventh row, again posting the fastest lap of the race. Spavone was 5th after an eventful but consistent race, ahead of Max Snegirev, Adderly Fong and Giancarlo Serenelli. Facu Regalia and Giuseppe Cipriani where the last two scoring drivers ending in P9 and P10.
Pal Varhaug: "Yesterday's second race was a big achievement already, but winning gives you a completely different feeling. Today I had less troubles in getting heat in the tires, but the first braking after the pit-stop was again a very difficult one, I nearly lost it! After that it was just a matter of pushing as hard as I could, and that's what I did. I have to say thanks to the team because today the pit-stop was really quick, and it was a key point to this success".
Chris Van der Drift: "Frankly I wasn't expecting such a weekend. My deal for this race was confirmed just on Thursday, I was coming from a long stop and I had no testing at all in this car this year, so there were many question marks. Anyway Qualifying was already good and in the races I was feeling even better. Unluckily in Race 1 I did a mistake in Parabolica, but today I made up for it, clinching a podium that is a deserved prize for the team also. The race itself wasn't easy, but the team did a good job at the pit-stop, something that really helped. Then, luckily, I was just ahead of the first corner brawl on lap 10 and so didn't risk my 2nd place".
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs: "I'm obviously ok with this podium finish, but with some luck at the pit-stop it could have been even better. The team did a wonderful job with the tire change, but then when my car was already on the ground we decided to avoid a release that could have been a little unsafe, and so I had to let go a train of four cars. I had to start over again with my recovery, but luckily I was in the right place at the first chicane when the mess happened and could make the most of it. Then the last lap with Sirotkin so close wasn't too difficult, I just braked a bit more at the beginning of Parabolica to slow him down a bit, and then got a better exit speed".
Monza, Race 2
1 Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 14 giri 23'48"744
2 Chris Van der Drift Manor MP +3"519
3 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs SuperNova International +4"445
4 Sergey Sirotkin Euronova Racing +4"520
5 Antonio Spavone Euronova Racing +9"839
6 Max Snegirev Campos Racing +12"332
7 Adderly Fong Ombra Racing +20"060
8 Giancarlo Serenelli Ombra Racing +23"840
9 Facu Regalia Campos Racing +26"135
10 Giuseppe Cipriani Campos Racing +1 LAP
11 Victor Guerin SuperNova International +1 LAP
12 Michele La Rosa MLR71 +1 LAP
13 Sergio Campana MLR71 +3 LAPS
14 Giacomo Ricci Zele Racing +5 LAPS
15 Matteo Beretta Ombra Racing +7 LAPS
16 Daniel de Jong Manor MP Motorsport +8 LAPS
Lap 13 by Sergey SIROTKIN, Euronova Racing, in 1:36.958, media 215.09 km/h
Drivers Standings: 1. Varhaug e Quaife-Hobbs 38; 3 .Van der Drift 25; 4. De Jong 15; 5. Regalia 14; 6. Snegirev, Spavone e Sirotkin 12; 9. Ricci 8; 10. Serenelli 5; 11. Fong 4; 12. Cipriani e Campana 1.
Under 21 Standings: 1. Quaife-Hobbs 41; 2. Varhaug 38; 3. Sirotkin 22; 4. Regalia e Spavone 20; 6. De Jong 15; 7. Guerin 12; 8. Beretta 4.
Teams Standings: 1. Manor MP Motorsport 40; 2. SuperNova International e Virtuosi UK 38; 26; 4. Campos Racing 26; 5. Euronova Racing 24; 6. Ombra Racing 9; 7. Zele Racing 8; 8. MLR71 1.