Sergei Afanasiev bounced back from being forced to miss the Auto GP round at Donington Park by winning the first race at Oschersleben in Germany.

The Russian, who was unable to race in Britain last time out after problems obtaining a visa, took advantage when polesitter Fabrizio Crestani was taken out by the fast-starting Samuele Buttarelli at Turn 1. Buttarelli, who won a race at both Brno and Donington, was punished with a grid penalty for the next round at Valencia.

Afanasiev inherited the lead ahead of Adrien Tambay, who flew from seventh on the damp grid. The Frenchman had returned to the series with Campos Racing, having been dropped by the Gravity management firm after the races at Brno. He replaced Adam Carroll, who was racing in GP2 in Hungary.

DAMS driver Afanasiev pulled out a lead over Tambay, but after the pitstops he was caught again by Tambay who had picked up his pace. Tambay tried to make a move for the lead but Afanasiev held on before posting the fastest lap of the race two laps from the end on his way to the checkered flag.

“I knew that at the start there could have been issues with the damp side of the track, so I was very careful,” explained Afansasiev. “After that my rivals helped me going out the race wasn't easy anyway, especially after the pit-stop. The team mounted me new rear tyres and this changed the car's balance, while Adrien was really quick after his pit-stop and catched up. Anyway I managed to control him, and when my balance was good again I started pushing as much as I could. I'm really happy of this win, clinching it after missing Donington makes it even better!”

Tambay said: “I think that everything was due to the balance of our cars. His was a bit better at the start and much better in the central part of the race, but after the pit-stop he was having understeer while I could push easily, so I got back on his tail. Anyway I didn't have a real chance to attack him, and when he was able to push again I couldn't go quicker. Anyway I think that second place starting from P7 is very good. My start? It wasn't anything special, I knew what the track conditions were and so I started very cautiously, as I do when I'm in the pitlane. This allowed me to pass everybody while their wheels where still spinning.”

Buttarelli hits leader Crestani at the start, Afanasiev (left) is ready to pounce for the race lead. Photo Credit: Auto GP

The final place on the podium came down to a battle between Fabio Onidi, Kevin Ceccon and Kevin Korjus. Onidi passed Ceccon for third at the last corner on the first lap, and held the position until the mandatory pitstops. A problem for Onidi during his stop and a very quick stop for Korjus allowed the young Estonian, who was making his series debut in place of Rio Haryanto at DAMS, to jump both and take third place.

Onidi tried to take the place back but lost fourth to Ceccon in the process, while Korjus seemed set for third until he was forced to retire near the end with a mechanical issue. Ceccon claimed third place, ahead of Onidi.

Adrian Campos Jr finished fifth, ahead of Daniel De Jong who took advantage of an early pitstop to move up the order. Pasquale di Sabatino was seventh, with Giovanni Venturini eighth.

Race results – 24 laps:

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1 Sergei Afanasiev Dams 32:58.137
2 Adrien Tambay Campos Racing 0.644
3 Kevin Ceccon Ombra Racing 16.135
4 Fabio Onidi Lazarus 19.329
5 Adrian Campos Jr Campos Racing 24.415
6 Daniel De Jong MP Motorsport 28.249
7 Pasquale Di Sabatino TP Formula 31.690
8 Giovanni Venturini Griffitz Durango 34.183
9 Bruno Mendez Campos Racing +1 lap
10 Kevin Korjus Dams +2 laps
Ret Francesco Dracone Ombra Racing 1 lap
Ret Fabrizio Crestani Lazarus 1 lap
Ret Giuseppe Cipriani Griffitz Durango 0 laps
Ret Samuele Buttarelli TP Formula 0 laps