Adrian Quaife-Hobbs scored his second Auto GP World Series win with a fine drive through from seventh place in Race 2 at Valencia, strengthening his points lead.
The Super Nova driver, who also won the series opener at Monza three weeks beforehand, had finished second in the weekend's opening race after starting from pole. Lining up seventh on the reverse grid, the Briton was already up to third by the first corner thanks to a great start.
Starting on worn tyres, he couldn't keep up with leaders Sergio Campana and Max Snegirev. But making an early pitstop at the end of lap four paid off for Quaife-Hobbs, as he put in a series of fast laps on fresh tyres.
This meant that by the time everyone had made their pitstop by lap 17, he was in the lead by more than six seconds. He nursed that advantage over the remaining laps to take the checkered flag.
“Both I and the team didn't expect to be up in third at the first corner, but I made a great start, and that was the case,” said Quaife-Hobbs afterwards. “We had committed to starting on old tyres, so even if my position was better than expected I stuck to my pre-race strategy. As I was holding everyone up, it wasn’t going to be long before someone started trying to make an overtaking attempt, so I came in as planned. After that I had a clear track and pushed like it was qualifying.”
Facu Regalia had started on the front row alongside Campos Racing teammate Snegirev, but a poor getaway saw him fall all the way back to sixth on the opening lap. He stopped the lap after Quaife-Hobbs, and that similar strategy allowed him to finish back up in second place, recording a podium finish in his team's back yard.
“The start was really awful, maybe I was focusing too much on overtaking my team-mate Snegirev who was starting from pole and I nearly stalled,” said the Argentinian. “It was a pity because I really had a chance to win and instead I was sixth at the end of the lap. Luckily my team got the strategy right and called me in on lap 6. From then on the pace was good, but obviously stopping so early my tyres started suffering a bit in the last few laps. I had to look in the mirrors for Sirotkin, but I managed to control the gap quite easily.”
Race 1 winner Sergey Sirotkin moved from eighth to fifth at the start, and then followed Quaife-Hobbs in at the end of lap four. A slow pitstop caused him to rejoin ten seconds behind the Brit and then fall back behind Regalia, but the Russian teenager came through to finish third and join the duo on the podium, crossing the line just a tenth behind Regalia.
“I feel that finally I can relax,” said Sirotkin, who also contested three Italian F3 races over the weekend. “It was a tough weekend, but going home with one win and a third place feels great! I could have been even better anyway: today I was on the same strategy as Adrian, we planned to stop on lap 5 also and that's what we did. Anyway we had a problem at the pit-stop, and I really lost a lot of time. Then, to make things worse, I also found myself stuck in traffic, finding slower cars in the wrong spots all the time for a couple of lap.”
Daniel De Jong had been tucked up behind Quaife-Hobbs early on in fourth place, but used an opposite strategy to those around him by stopping late and coming home close behind Sirotkin. The second Super Nova car of Victor Guerin crossed the line in fifth, the Brazilian having made up a number of places after starting 16th following his Race 1 oil leak.
Snegirev lost second place on the road to De Jong on lap eight, and rejoined down in sixth once he had made his stop. Chris van der Drift was seventh, with Monza Race 2 winner Pal Varhaug a quiet eighth. Early leader Campana fell to ninth after overshooting his pit box.
Quaife-Hobbs' victory extends his points lead to 21 points over Varhaug, with Sirotkin now just five points further back. Auto GP joins the WTCC in making the trip to Marrakech in two weeks' time.
|1||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||Super Nova International||21 laps in 30:55.874|
|2||Facu Regalia||Campos Racing||5.496|
|3||Sergey Sirotkin||Euronova Racing||5.652|
|4||Daniel De Jong||Manor MP Motorsport||7.605|
|5||Victor Guerin||Super Nova International||8.894|
|6||Max Snegirev||Campos Racing||17.292|
|7||Chris Van Der Drift||Manor MP Motorsport||17.776|
|8||Pal Varhaug||Virtuosi UK||19.039|
|9||Sergio Campana||MLR 71||20.288|
|10||Sten Pentus||Virtuosi UK||26.112|
|11||Antonio Spavone||Euronova Racing||28.374|
|12||Giancarlo Serenelli||Ombra Racing||41.213|
|13||Matteo Beretta||Zele Racing||44.232|
|14||Giuseppe Cipriani||Campos Racing||44.952|
|15||Michele La Rosa||MLR 71||+1 lap|
|16||Peter Milavec||Zele Racing||+1 lap|
|Yann Cunha||Ombra Racing||2 laps|