Having lost the GP3 Series title lead to Esteban Ocon during Friday’s first race, Luca Ghiotto fought back to take a commanding victory in Sakhir from fourth on the grid in race two on Saturday.
The Trident Motorsport driver held a comfortable two second margin over the ART Grand Prix driver to return to the head of the Drivers’ Standings, meaning the championship is going down to the wire at the final round of the series next weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Koiranen GP‘s Matthew Parry completed the podium, coming home in third place after having started down in eleventh place.
Alfonso Celis Jr had started on reverse grid pole, the Mexican made a good start to retain the lead into turn one but Ghiotto was keen to get up the order and was into the lead at turn two.
Jann Mardenborough – the man who had lined up alongside Celis Jr on the front row – had a disappointing start – a slow getaway meant he fell into the pack and he made contact with another driver which sent the Briton out wide and into an early retirement.
Feature Race winner Marvin Kirchhöfer also made a brilliant start from P8 to P3 on the opening lap, while his team-mate Ocon managed to find his way past Trident’s Artur Janosz which meant ART cars were running from second to fourth.
The safety car was deployed following an incident with Sandy Stuvik and Matheo Tuscher at turn 14. This eventually changed to a red flag period due to the marshals having to remove Stuvik’s car from its position, buried in the barrier.
The safety car led the field out of the pits at the re-start and once action resumed Ocon wasted no time in passing Kirchhöfer at turn one. His next target was his other team-mate of Celis Jr, who the Frenchman made quick work off as he set his sights on Ghiotto. The Italian, meanwhile, was out front lighting up the timing screen to post fastest laps with a 1.9s lead over Ocon on lap six.
Matthew Parry had started from P11 on the grid was busy carving his way through the field and was up to fourth on lap eight after overtaking Emil Bernstorff. Parry’s team-mate Jimmy Eriksson found himself in a great duel with Janosz for the final point on offer with the Swede claiming the upper hand.
Unfortunately for Janosz, he then found himself beginning to fall back through the field after an excellent start.
Parry, who had been on charge since the get-go found himself in a podium spot after overtaking Celis Jr on lap ten. Ghiotto continued to control the race with a 2s lead over Ocon and the Italian maintained this advantage to the chequered flag to win by 2.3s.
Ocon and Parry completed the podium, with Bernstorff, Antonio Fuoco, Kirchhöfer, Eriksson and Celis Jr rounding out the top eight and the points scorers.
The ninth and final round of the series takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi next week, with the driver’s title still up for and a mere two points separating Ghiotto and Ocon.