Daniel Juncadella took a surprise victory in an exciting Macau GP on Sunday, the Spaniard pulling off a 3-wide overtake to grab the lead after the 2nd of 3 safety car periods.
The Prema driver ran 3rd behind front-row starters Marco Wittmann and Felipe Nasr for the opening half of the prestigious event, before a safety car on lap 6 reset the field.
The regroup hit Wittmann the hardest – the pole-sitter had been dominating affairs out in front. The German resisted an opening lap challenge around the outside from Valtteri Bottas, but held the inside into Lisboa corner, before pulling out a 1.7 second gap by the end of lap 2. That had soon extended up to 2.7 seconds as the Signature driver’s pace in the twisty middle sector of the Guia circuit saw him scamper away from the chasing Juncadella.
Bottas’ run at the front was cut short when the Finn clipped the barrier exiting the treacherous Lisboa, breaking his front left suspension and promoting Nasr to 3rd.
But a lap 7 crash for Felix Rosenqvist once again at Faraways, saw Wittmann’s lead evaporate, and the restart on lap 8 left him helpless to the 3-car slipstream of Nasr, Juncadella and Yuhi Sekiguchi behind him.
As the quartet swept down towards Lisboa, a frantic 165mph reshuffle took place, with Wittmann slipping down to 4th whilst Juncadella squeezed past into the lead with the slippery Sekiguchi now in 2nd. Juncadella nearly piled into the barriers under braking, bogging himself and his pursuers, which also allowed Hannes von Asseldonk to slip past Wittmann – the German moving from 1st to 5th in 2 corners.
Juncadella quickly managed to pull a gap over Sekiguchi as the Japanese champion hindered Nasr’s progress for a few laps. Wittmann made quick work of Asseldonk then Sekiguchi in successive laps and began closing on Nasr with 2 to go.
But again, another safety car baulked his efforts after a huge crash between British F3 rivals Kevin Magnussen and William Buller on the main straight. The chasing Magnussen was reportedly launched over the top of Buller’s Fortec machine at top-speed and into the catch fencing, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Hywel Lloyd also caught in the incident.
Both Lloyd and Magnussen were taken to the medical centre for checks, with Magnussen escaping with only a minor injury to his left knee.
With debris littering the track and an ambulance tending to Magnussen and Lloyd, the race came to a quiet end under the safety car, easing Juncadella to victory in a spectacular 2011 Macau GP.
One notable absence from the head of the field was F3Euroseries champion Roberto Merhi. The Spanish Prema runner was on the brink of stalling off the start-line and was quickly collected by Laurens Vanthoor, who then collided with innocent team-mate Daniel Abt, triggering the 1st safety car of the race. Merhi limped on with a broken rear suspension but quickly retired in the pits, adding his name to a long list of retirements that accounted for over half the field.
Results - 15 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc 42m17.099s 2. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 0.359s 3. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW + 0.662s 4. Yuhi Sekiguchi Mucke Dallara-Merc + 1.378s 5. Hannes van Asseldonk Hitech Dallara-VW + 2.128s 6. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 3.301s 7. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 3.860s 8. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 4.062s 9. Richard Bradley TOM'S Dallara-Toyota + 4.595s 10. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 4.819s 11. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 5.551s 12. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW + 6.534s 13. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 8.336s Retirements: Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 13 laps Hideki Yamauchi Toda Dallara-Honda 13 laps Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 13 laps Carlos Sainz Jr Signature Dallara-VW 13 laps Alexander Sims TOM'S Dallara-Toyota 13 laps Marko Asmer Double R Dallara-Merc 13 laps Antonio Felix da Costa Hitech Dallara-VW 12 laps Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW 9 laps Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 6 laps Valtteri Bottas Double R Dallara-Merc 4 laps Mitch Evans Double R Dallara-Merc 4 laps Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 1 lap Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW 0 laps Richie Stanaway Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 0 laps Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW 0 laps Hironobu Yasuda Three Bond Dallara-Nissan 0 laps