Adrian Quaife-Hobbs - Photo Credit: Auto GP

Quaife-Hobbs takes the checkered flag at Monza - Photo Credit: Auto GP

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs won on his first start in the Auto GP World Series, converting pole position to victory in the first race of the season at Monza.

The former GP3 driver made a good start in his Super Nova car to lead into the first corner. His case was helped when fellow front-row starter Sergey Sirotkin stalled on the grid.

Italian F3 champion Sergio Campana took up second place ahead of Pal Varhaug, but Quaife-Hobbs maintained a safe advantage throughout the race including the pitstops to take the checkered flag with a margin of one and a half seconds.

“Starting from pole surely is an advantage, but it doesn't mean that you get an easy race,” said Quaife-Hobbs. “It was my first start on such an heavy and powerful car so the first braking with cold tyres was a bit tricky. Anyway I wanted to push very hard right from the start to immediately break the tow, as I know that this is a key to success in Monza, and that's what I did.

“It did work, but then I again had the same gearbox glitch as yesterday and part of my lead was gone. I was able to control the race anyway, and even the pit-stop, which was the first of my career, was really smooth, so I couldn't ask for more.”

Campana made it home in second in the first race for the MLR71 team, but he would later lose that position when both Campana and teammate and owner Michele La Rosa were handed a one minute penalty. At the mandatory pitstop where teams must change the rear tyres, the team changed the front tyres on both cars. The penalty dropped Campana to tenth, with La Rosa falling from his original finishing place of 11th to 12th.

This meant that former GP2 racer Varhaug inherited second – also driving for a brand new team in the form of British outfit Virtuosi.

“At the start Sirotkin stalled right in front of me so I had to steer a lot to avoid him,” said the Norwegian driver. “Despite that I managed a good start, but at the first braking I didn't close the door on the inside and Campana passed, and that was a little mistake.

“In the race I was third and pretty close to the front duo, but then after the pit-stop I struggled a bit in getting temperature back in the tyres, and lost some ground. I still have to get used to the car and the Kumhos, so this podium is a great result already.”

Third went to Daniel De Jong, who made up several places early on to take fourth in his Marussia-liveried Manor MP car, before getting the better of Campos driver Facundo Regalia.

“Obviously getting a podium finish because another driver has been penalized doesn't get you the same feeling of a 'real' one, but even when I was fourth I was already very satisfied of my race,” explained De Jong.

“I had a good start and managed to get the inside, there's where you want to be at the first chicane in Monza. The fight with Regalia was fun as the whole race, as the car felt really great, so quick that it allowed me to recover from P10. Now I hope that Race 2 will be as good.”

Chris van der Drift recovered to fifth in the second Manor MP car having fallen from P4 to P8 with a trip through the gravel at the Parabolica.

Giacomo Ricci was sixth for Zele Racing, just ahead of Campos' Max Snegirev with Antonio Spavone eighth for Euronova. Giancarlo Serenelli took ninth, with Campana getting the final point after his penalty.

Adderly Fong and Victor Guerin both lost time in the pits for repairs, while Sirotkin got going again and finished a lap down. The 16-year-old did manage to claim the bonus point for fastest lap though, with a time quicker than the pole position lap from qualifying.

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Super Nova International 23:36.782
2 Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 4.880
3 Daniel De Jong Manor MP Motorsport 11.480
4 Facundo Regalia Campos Racing 13.444
5 Chris Van Der Drift Manor MP Motorsport 22.896
6 Giacomo Ricci Zele Racing 27.137
7 Max Snegirev Campos Racing 28.245
8 Antonio Spavone Euronova Racing 32.073
9 Giancarlo Serenelli Ombra Racing 40.862
10 Sergio Campana MLR 71 1:01.499
11 Giuseppe Cipriani Campos Racing 1:27.688
12 Michele La Rosa MLR 71 1:54.340
13 Adderly Fong Ombra Racing 1 LAP
14 Sergey Sirotkin Euronova Racing 1 LAP
15 Victor Guerin Super Nova International 2 LAPS