Jack Clarke used a superb getaway to claim his maiden FIA Formula Two Championship victory in the first race at Brands Hatch.
Starting from third on the grid the Briton got the jump on front row starters Tobias Hegewald and Ramon Pineiro on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend to take the lead. Pineiro meanwhile slotted into second place ahead of his German rival who had started on pole.
The safety car was introduced at the end of the first lap after a crash at Graham Hill Bend. Youngster Jordan King lost his car under breaking and careered across the inside of the corner, hitting Kelvin Snoeks as he rejoined. Benjamin Lariche and Mihai Marinescu were also eliminated in the clash.
After the restart Clarke maintained a comfortable margin over Pineiro, taking the checkered flag three seconds ahead of the Spaniard.
“It's perfect,” declared an elated Clarke afterwards. “I couldn't have written that. I've not looked like knocking on the door of a win this year so to come here and to smash it so to speak is a big deal for me.”
Behind Pineiro, Hegewald finished some ten seconds behind the winner in third to complete the podium. He kept both Miki Monras and championship leader Mirko Bortolotti at bay. Bortolotti had started eighth on the grid after a five-place grid penalty for a collision in qualifying.
Alex Brundle ran fifth behind Monras early on but pulled off at Graham Hill Bend after contact with Christopher Zanella. Zanella was soon passed by both Bortolotti and Thiemo Storz, but Storz would later spin at Druids, promoting Zanella to sixth.
Max Snegirev scored his best ever F2 finish in seventh, just behind Zanella. James Cole scored his first ever points in eighth just ahead of Armaan Ebrahim. Jose Luis Abadin scored his maiden points finish in tenth.
Race 1 results:
1. Jack Clarke, 28 Laps
2. Ramon Pineiro, +3.137s
3. Tobias Hegewald, +10.729s
4. Miki Monras, +11.154s
5. Mirko Bortolotti, +11.930s
6. Christopher Zanella, +24.912s
7. Max Snegirev, +25.078s
8. James Cole, +40.075s
9. Armaan Ebrahim, +40.580s
10. Jose Luis Abadin, +1m10.258s
11. Parthiva Sureshwaren, +1m12.017
12. Plamen Kralev, + 1 lap
13. Mikkel Mac, + 1 lap
14. Sunghak Mun, + 2 laps
Ret. Thiemo Storz, 8 laps
Ret. Alex Brundle, 3 laps
Ret. Kelvin Snoeks, 0 laps
Ret. Benjamin Lariche, 0 laps
Ret. Mihai Marinescu, 0 laps
Ret. Jordan King, 0 laps