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Safety Car Contoversy Hands Ceccon A Dominant Win

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17-year-old Kevin Ceccon scored his maiden Auto GP victory in a controversial manner in Race 1 at the Hungaroring. The Ombra Racing driver took the checkered flag 50 seconds ahead of nearest rival Adrien Tambay after being handed a huge lead during a safety car period.

A good start from Fabio Onidi saw the Lazarus driver take the lead at the beginning of the race, passing both Ceccon and polesitter Luca Filippi. Super Nova driver Filippi regained the lead from Onidi on lap six and set about building up a gap.

On lap nine Marco Barba crashed into the tyre barrier at Turn 1, bringing out the safety car. Most of the leaders opted to make their mandatory pitstop, though Ceccon stayed out. Rather than picking up the new leader, the safety car picked up Filippi, who in turn had missed his pit box so would have to come in again. Meanwhile, Ceccon was able to complete two laps at nearly racing speed ahead of the safety car.

This meant that at the restart Ceccon had a big enough lead to change his tyres and still win the race with a 50 second advantage. After the race he was handed a 60 second penalty for not slowing enough during the safety car, dropping him to fifth place. However, Ombra immediately appealed the decision, meaning that Ceccon is reinstated as the race winner until the matter is discussed by the Hungarian sporting authority.

“We decided to lodge an appeal because we think that we can't pay for a mistake made by whoever called the Safety-Car in,” said Ceccon. “Furthermore, I've been punished for not slowing down when both those laps were around two seconds slower than my race pace. This is why we think that appealing was our right. It's a pity because I'm not really enjoying this win.”

Tambay pitted earlier than his rivals, meaning he moved into third place after the pitstops, behind Giovani Venturini. Venturini struggled with tyre wear in the closing stages, which allowed Tambay to take second posititon.

“I'm a bit confused by what happened with the Safety-Car, but apart from this my race was really good, and the call we did with the team with the early pit-stop was the right one,” said Tambay. “A second place is a good result anyway, and I hope that the appeal will be refused.”

Venturini said: “My start was good, I passed Ceccon and I tried to go on the inside of Onidi, but he quickly closed the door. From then on the race was good, my car was really quick so I managed to control the race with no worries until the last laps, when tyre wear made things tricky. Anyway without my mistake I would have been second, I touched the grass under braking and Adrien went through.”

Onidi finished fourth, ahead of Sergei Afanasiev and Rodolfo Gonzalez. Fabrizio Crestani finished seventh, ahead of Pasquale di Sabatino, who switched from Ombra to TP Formula for the Hungarian rounds.

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