Palou Storms to Victory as Ocon Becomes Champion


2015 GP3 Series Round 9. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday 26 November 2015. Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service. ref: Digital Image _L0U3678

Alex Palou took his maiden GP3 Series victory in the Sprint race in Abu Dhabi, but all eyes were on the battle for third place, which decided the 2015 Championship crown.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon ultimately finished on the podium, meaning he defeated rival Luca Ghiotto to take the title by eight points; Carlin driver Antonio Fuoco beat them both to complete the podium, having come home in second place on the team’s final GP3 outing.

Palou was on reverse grid pole with Fuoco alongside but it was the drivers starting in fourth and fifth place – with Ghiotto starting ahead of Ocon – that the main focus was on during the fourteen-lap race.

Following Saturday’s Feature Race Ghiotto knew that a win was a must if Ocon was to finish on the podium, but as the lights went out Palou retained the lead ahead of Fuoco, with ART Grand Prix‘s Ocon slipping into third into the first corner.  The Frenchman found himself in the middle of Ghiotto and Welshman Matthew Parry and made brief contact with them both down the straight and into turn one.

Having found himself behind Parry at the start, Ghiotto made quick work of the Briton and set off for Ocon knowing he had to finish ahead to keep his title hopes alive.

By lap six Jimmy Eriksson had caught up and was on the rear of Ghiotto’s Trident Motorsport car as the Italian was beginning to fall away from Ocon and into the clutches on the Swede.

Out front, Palou was able to maintain a calm and confident race to continually increase his gap back to Fuoco. While Ghiotto seemed unable to match the pace of the rapid Ocon.

As the laps continued to tick down, on lap ten Ghiotto found himself almost seven seconds off of race leader Palou and was busy holding off the threat of Eriksson. Emil Bernstorff has consistently shown the pace he can hold in the closing stages of a race and joined the battle between the Swede and the Italian, but was unable to get past either of them before the chequered flag.

Palou crossed the line to not only take his but also his Campos Racing team’s first ever GP3 victory, finishing 4.429s ahead of Fuoco, while Ocon finished the final race of the season on the podium to clinch the championship.

Championship runner up Ghiotto finished in fourth ahead of Eriksson, Bernstorff, Feature Race winner Marvin Kirchhöfer (who edged out Bernstorff for third in the championship by just six points) and Pal Varhaug.