|16-year old Sergey Sirotkin takes the win|
At just 16 Sergey Sirotkin became the youngest race winner of the Auto GP history taking a stunning success in today's Race 1 in Valencia. The only driver of the whole grid to start on a set of new medium tires (all the others were on used softs), Sirotkin made the most of the extra grip he had available to make a great start that allowed him to jump ahead of poleman Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
The brit pushed as much as he could to stay close to his rival, but Sirotkin's pace in the first laps was impossible to match, and by lap 7 he had already built a gap of more than 4 seconds. Still focused on giving his opponent the hardest possible time, Quaife-Hobbs managed to close the gap from 4"5 to 1"5 with two very good in and out laps and a great pit-stop by SuperNova when both drivers stopped to change tires on lap 13.
Anyway, after that Sirotkin showed again that today he was simply quicker by stretching the gap again. To make things a bit harder, an oil leak from Victor Guerin's car brought the Safety-Car out with 4 laps to go, erasing Sergey's advantage again: the race was restarted with just one lap to go but again Sirotkin pulled away easily and clinched a well deserved win ahead of Quaife-Hobbs.
Quite disappointed after the race as he started from pole, Adrian anyway bags a result that is good for the Championship as he improved his points advantage on Pal Varhaug. The Norwegian driver of Virtuosi UK clinched a third place finish, earning his podium with a good start and then with bold outside pass on Facu Regalia on lap 13: making his pit-stop one lap earlier than the Argentinean driver of Campos Racing, Varhaug had hotter tires and made the most of the advantage, closing the gap in the last corner and then using both the slipstream and the Overboost button to get wheel to wheel with Regalia, then outbraking him and keeping his P3 until the checkered flag.
Regalia, that had consistently run in 3rd place until that moment, was then set for a good 4th place finish, but the engine failure on Guerin's car had a bad effect on his race too, as he slipped on the Brazilian’s engine oil and lost precious time, ending the race in P7. The same happened a few seconds later to his team-mate Max Snegirev, meaning that home team Campos Racing had a very unlucky race.
It was Daniel de Jong who inherited 4th place, clinching a great result after starting from P10 on the grid. After a great start he was already 7th at the end of lap 1, and then also got the upper hand in a fight with team mate Chris Van der Drift. Being the first to pit, on lap 5, Daniel made the most of the clear track to post a sequence of good laps that brought him this great result.
Italian F3 reigning champion Sergio Campana had also a good race, finishing fifth ahead of Van der Drift, Regalia, Snegirev and Antonio Spavone, again in the top ten after a consistent race. The last point available went to Sten Pentus: starting from P15 on the grid, the Estonian driver of Virtuosi UK opted for an early pit-stop strategy that allowed him to make up some ground with quick laps on a clear track, beating the competition to P10.
Valencia, Race 1, 31 March 2012
1 Sergey SIROTKIN Euronova Racing 21 laps in 32'49"721, avg 153.71 kph
2 Adrian QUAIFE-HOBBS Super Nova International +0.969
3 Pal VARHAUG Virtuosi UK +3.374
4 Daniel DE JONG Manor MP Motorsport +4.831
5 Sergio CAMPANA MLR 71 +5.731
6 Chris VAN DER DRIFT Manor MP Motorsport +6.325
7 Facu REGALIA Campos Racing +7.301
8 Max SNEGIREV Campos Racing +7.967
9 Antonio SPAVONE Euronova Racing +8.300
10 Sten PENTUS Virtuosi UK +9.077
11 Giancarlo SERENELLI Ombra Racing +9.965
12 Giuseppe CIPRIANI Campos Racing +10.705
13 Yann CUNHA Ombra Racing +11.225
14 Michele LA ROSA MLR 71 +1 LAP
15 Peter MILAVEC Zele Racing +1 LAP
16 Victor GUERIN Super Nova International +5 LAPS
17 Matteo BERETTA Zele Racing +5 LAPS
FASTEST LAP Lap 17 by Sergey SIROTKIN in 1:25.340, avg 168.94 kph
Drivers Standings: 1. Quaife-Hobbs 57; 2. Varhaug 53; 3. Sirotkin 38; 4. Van der Drift 33; 5. De Jong 27; 6. Regalia 20; 7. Snegirev 16; 8. Spavone 14; 9. Campana 11; 10. Ricci 8; 11. Serenelli 5; 12. Fong 4; 13. Pentus and Cipriani 1.
Under 21 Standings: 1. Quaife-Hobbs 60; 2. Varhaug 53; 3. Sirotkin 48; 4. Regalia 30; 5. Spavone 28; 6. De Jong 27; 7. Guerin 16; 8. Beretta and Cunha 6.
Team Standings: 1. Manor MP Motorsport 60; 2. SuperNova International 57; 3. Virtuosi UK 54; 4. Euronova Racing 52; 5. Campos Racing 36; 6. MLR 11; 7. Ombra Racing 9; Zele Racing 8.