Hughes sweeps to victory in Spielberg Race 2

From left, Pedro Piquet (Trident), Jake Hughes (ART Grand Prix), Leonardo Pulcini (Campos Racing)
From left, Pedro Piquet (Trident), Jake Hughes (ART Grand Prix), Leonardo Pulcini (Campos Racing)

Jake Hughes took his first victory of 2018 in Race 2 of the GP3 Series round at Spielberg, Austria – the ART driver capitalizing on a first-corner incident and producing a strong defensive drive to win ahead of Trident’s Pedro Piquet. Absorbing an assault on the final lap, Leonardo Pulcini of Campos Racing secured third place.

On a cool Sunday morning, the action at the front immediately boiled over after polesitter David Beckmann got a slow start. Falling into the clutches of Trident pair Ryan Tveter and Giuliano Alesi, the two squeezed the Jenzer Motorsport driver from both sides and all three collided – ending their races on the spot. With a virtual safety car being called to clear the stricken trio, Hughes collected the lead with Piquet.

Hughes was allowed some breathing space at the start, opening a gap over Piquet to nullify the threat of DRS as the Brazilian came under fire from Pulcini, before the Italian dropped back. Soon, the Campos driver had the chasing pack of Callum Ilott, Dorian Boccolacci and Niko Kari for company, with Ilott making a pass for third place before Pulcini grabbed the place back.

With the threat behind him clear, Piquet began to set a collection of quick laps to reel Hughes back in, before Pulcini joined them having caught back up. A daring play for the lead from Pulcini on lap 8 at Turn 5 left Hughes and Piquet scrabbling to defend, but ultimately the status quo was preserved in the leading pack – before Piquet momentarily snatched the lead on the following lap. His tenure at the head of the pack barely lasted one tour of the Red Bull Ring, as Hughes used DRS to repass and reclaim the advantage.

The climb to turn 1 is much steeper than what it appears on TV
The climb to turn 1 is much steeper than what it appears on TV

Ilott and Boccolacci soon homed in on the leading trio having dropped Kari, and the Finnish driver was shoved out of the way by Nikita Mazepin at turn 3 to allow Alessio Lorandi to steal past the pair. Attempting another attack on Pulcini on lap 13, Ilott stuffed his car down the inside at turn 3, but Pulcini’s persistence paid off as he hung on around the outside of the following corner to preserve third place. Meanwhile, Hughes was having a far easier time defending after Piquet had used all of his DRS activations, turning down the pace and prompting a train of cars to form on the final laps.

On the penultimate lap, Boccolacci – who had saved his DRS activations for the end – blasted past Ilott and seemed set to challenge Pulcini for third place. Catching up on the final lap, the MP Motorsport driver launched his way past Pulcini at turn three, but went wide to hand the place back – with Lorandi taking advantage of the situation to sweep past both Boccolacci and Ilott.

Hughes, having built a sufficient gap over Piquet, cruised across the line to collect his first win of the season – becoming the fourth and final ART driver to take victory this season. Piquet collected second from Pulcini, who survived the late onslaught to beat Lorandi. Boccolacci rescued fifth from Ilott, as the hard-charging Mazepin took seventh ahead of Kari.

The next round of the GP3 Series will take place from the 6-8 July at Silverstone, and with the championship battle in full swing – Ilott and Hubert separated by only six points, with Pulcini just two points behind – the fourth round promises to be a real thriller as the Series moves toward the middle of the calendar.

Race 2 Results

1 4 J. Hughes ART Grand Prix 18 0.000s 0.000s
2 5 P. Piquet Trident 18 0.821 0.821
3 18 L. Pulcini Campos Racing 18 1.784 0.963
4 8 A. Lorandi Trident 18 2.202 0.418
5 22 D. Boccolacci MP Motorsport 18 2.914 0.712
6 1 C. Ilott ART Grand Prix 18 3.440 0.526
7 3 N. Mazepin ART Grand Prix 18 5.061 1.621
8 24 N. Kari MP Motorsport 18 6.163 1.102
9 2 A. Hubert ART Grand Prix 18 6.634 0.471
10 16 J. Mawson Arden International 18 7.682 1.048
11 23 D. DeFrancesco MP Motorsport 18 9.034 1.352
12 9 T. Calderon Jenzer Motorsport 18 12.396 3.362
13 10 J. Correa Jenzer Motorsport 18 16.335 3.939
14 15 J. Falchero Arden International 18 16.942 0.607
15 19 S. Laaksonen Campos Racing 18 18.437 1.495
16 20 D. Menchaca Campos Racing 18 22.620 4.183
DNF 14 G. Aubry Arden International 2 DNF
DNF 7 R. Tveter Trident 0 DNF
DNF 6 G. Alesi Trident 0 DNF
DNF 11 D. Beckmann Jenzer Motorsport 0 DNF

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