Storming start propels Kirchhöfer to victory in Bahrain


Starting from P5 for the GP3 Series Feature Race, Marvin Kirchhöfer took the lead for the race going into turn one on the opening lap as he went on to take his fourth win of the season.

His victory, coupled with both of his team-mates finishing inside the top eight, was enough to seal the GP3 Teams’ Championship for ART Grand Prix for the fifth time in six seasons.

Arden International‘s Emil Bernstorff passed Esteban Ocon for second place to end the Frenchman’s run of ten consecutive races in which he has finished in second place. Ocon’s title rival Luca Ghiotto came home in fourth place.

As the drivers took to the grid it was with Ocon on pole with rival Ghiotto lining up alongside him. Campos Racing‘s Alex Palou was meant to start from fourth place but he suffered from technical gremlins that confined him to the pit lane.

As the lights went out, Ocon covered the attack from Ghiotto but it was Kirchhöfer who found the advantage and flew past the pair of them going into the first turn. Ghiotto was right on the tail of Ocon whilst the rest of the field were busy battling each other following the frantic start.

Kevin Ceccon was embroiled in a battle with Jimmy Eriksson for fifth whilst Artur Janosz and Jann Mardenborough behind fought over P7.

Alfonso Celis Jr – who was looking to impress following being named Sahara Force India‘s development driver – was busy carving his way through the field after starting from 14th place. On lap 14, Celis Jr managed to pass Ceccon for sixth. Mardenborough who was close behind tries to follow suit but he ended up running wide.

With five laps left, Bernstorff, who had been settled in fourth began his charge to the front, passed Ghiotto into turn 1 on lap 17, and with just two laps remaining the top three were covered by just one second with the prospect of a mouth-watering fight being on the cards.

Bernstorff was certainly on a mission as he raced side by side with Ocon – the two briefly made light contact and the Arden start jumped into second place after attempting some bold moves on the final lap.

At the chequered flag, Kirchhöfer was triumphant ahead of Bernstorff with ART team-mate Ocon in third. Ghiotto posted the fastest lap of the race in fourth to earn himself the two bonus points, ahead of Eriksson, Janosz, Mardenborough, Celis Jr, Antonio Fuoco and Ralph Boschung.

Ocon now holds a three point advantage over Ghiotto in the Drivers’ Standings, whilst Kirchhöfer had moved back into third place five points clear of Bernstorff. ART Grand Prix are champions for the fifth time, with Trident Motorsport and Arden in second and third with all to play for.

Race 2 will commence at 9.00am local time (GMT+3) on Saturday with Celis. Jr starting from reverse pole.