Jon Lancaster scored an emphatic home victory at just his second Auto GP race weekend in a rain-affected first race at Donington Park.
The conditions lead to the race starting under the safety car, but when the pit window opened at the end of the third lap much of the field elected to get their mandatory pitstop out of the way while the pace was still controlled by the safety car.
Polesitter Adam Carroll stayed out on track, but Super Nova pitted both Luca Filippi and Lancaster. Those that stopped were able to catch the back of the safety car train when they rejoined. Carroll came in on the following lap, but rejoined down in 12th place.
When the safety car came in on lap six, Rio Haryanto was the only man not to have stopped, and therefore led the pack. The Indonesian was soon passed by Filippi though on the first green flag lap. Lancaster then took third from Kevin Ceccon and second place from Fabrizio Crestani.
In three laps Lancaster closed a four second gap to Filippi and passed him at Coppice. He immediately started to pull away, going onto take the checkered flag with an advantage of more than seven seconds.
“Winning my home race at just my second Auto GP meeting is an incredible feeling,” said Lancaster. “It wasn't an easy race, and starting with the safety car was the right call, there was really a lot of water in the first minutes.
“Then at the pit-stop the race seemed gone: Filippi was in front so I had to pit behind him, meaning that I had to wait the SuperNova guys to change the tyres on his car before taking care of mine. Anyway, we thought that stopping immediately was so important that it was worth the disadvantage.
“Luckily, when I came out of the pits the car felt great, I pushed to see how it did feel and the quicker I was going the more confidence I was getting, so I started recovering at a rate that frankly was surprising even for myself. When I passed Luca I just flew away, it was really great”.
Filippi finished a lonely second, with Crestani completing the podium some 14 seconds behind his fellow Italian. Ceccon came home fourth ahead of Carroll who recovered to fifth. Daniel De Jong finished his and the MP Motorsport team's first Auto GP race in sixth, ahead of Bruno Mendez and Samuele Buttarelli. Buttarelli started the race from third but went off into the gravel during the safety car period.
Fabio Onidi crashed into the barriers with four laps remaining, while Adrian Campos Jr continues to wait for his maiden Auto GP start, electrical problems preventing him from taking the start.
Race 1 results – 21 laps:
|1||Jon Lancaster||Supernova Racing||38:46.643|
|2||Luca Filippi||Supernova Racing||7.675|
|4||Kevin Ceccon||Ombra Racing||26.141|
|5||Adam Carroll||Campos Racing||27.716|
|6||Daniel De Jong||MP Motorsport||39.272|
|7||Bruno Mendez||Campos Racing||43.294|
|8||Samuele Buttarelli||TP Formula||53.953|
|9||Giovanni Venturini||Griffitz Durango||1:11.664|
|10||Pasquale Di Sabatino||TP Formula||1:11.973|
|12||Giuseppe Cipriani||Griffitz Durango||+1 lap|
|13||Fabio Onidi||Lazarus||+4 laps|
|Ret||Francesco Dracone||Ombra Racing||3 laps|