The Marussia Manor Racing team had a strong opening weekend of the 2014 GP3 Series, with Dean Stoneman taking his first win in the series in race two, while Patrick Kujala had his best GP3 race to date with a strong fourth in race one. Ryan Cullen continued his development with two solid results in challenging races.
After making his debut in GP3 in the season-ending event in Abu Dhabi last season, it did not take long for Briton Stoneman to win a race. He qualified a disappointing 13th for race one, but a fighting drive through to seventh on Saturday meant a front row grid slot for race two, which he converted into a first race win by overtaking pole man Matheo Tuscher of Jenzer Motorsport on lap two.
“It’s been a solid weekend for us and a great recovery from our qualifying position,” said Stoneman. “I pulled off some nice overtaking in race 1 to put us in the top eight for the reverse grid race 2. I am really happy to get my first win for Marussia Manor Racing and some good points in the bag.”
Koiranen GP refugee Kujala had a good opening race of the weekend, qualifying fifth and finishing a career best fourth. He unfortunately retired in race two with damage after attempting an overtaking manoeuvre on the Status Grand Prix car of Nick Yelloly.
“A very positive weekend for me despite not finishing the second race,” said Kujala. “Qualifying was good in P5 which put us in the hunt for Race 1. 4th was a great result and the pace pretty good. I’m disappointed to have clashed with Yelloly in the second race and not finish, but it’s been a good weekend for confidence and shows that I will be a contender this season.”
For Briton Cullen, he felt more at ease with the car than he did at any point in 2013. He qualified 16th, then took two mid-pack finishes.
“Qualifying was good,” admitted Cullen. “I have learnt such a lot since this time last year and I’m feeling like I’m getting to grips with GP3. I achieved that target this weekend to finish the races and gain more vital experience. I can’t wait to get to Austria.”
Pete Sliwinkski, the Marussia Manor Racing team principal, was happy about how the weekend progressed, and was delighted especially with the performances of Stoneman and Kujala in Spain.
“I am delighted with the performance of our drivers the weekend and Dean proved his talent with a fantastic drive in very tricky conditions to take our first victory of the season,” said Sliwinkski. “Patrick did a great job and is proving to be a very exciting prospect. Ryan’s development as a driver over the past six months continues with a solid weekend. We had a good haul of points in Barcelona but we need to work hard between now and Austria to improve our package.”