When crossing the line to finish third in race two at the Nurburgring, Euronova Racing driver Kimiya Sato clinched the 2014 Auto GP World Series title with a round to spare.
The Japanese driver becomes the fifth winner of the series since it became Auto GP back in 2010, and follows last years winner Vittorio Ghirelli into the history books. He is also the first non-European winner of the series since Augusto Fargus won it when it was called Euro Formula 3000 back in 2003.
“I’m really happy to have become Champion,” said Sato after the second race at the Nurburgring. “It’s quite a special feeling, especially as I have been waiting for it since last year when I lead the Championship for most of the season but lost out due to a mistake I made at Donington.”
Six wins and four further podium finishes in 2014 have seen Sato dominate the series. He even had the luxury of skipping the round at Monza as the original plan was for the Japanese driver to concentrate on his GP2 Series campaign with Campos Racing, but with him doing so well in Auto GP, the plans changed and he was able to skip the German round of GP2 to race in Austria in Auto GP.
He was able to hit the ground running in Morocco with a win in the opening race of the year, and followed that up with a second place in race two. A couple of third place finishes followed at Paul Ricard in France, before a near perfect weekend at the Hungaroring in Hungary where he won both races.
After skipping Monza, he returned to the series at Imola and won the opening race of the weekend before finishing fourth – his first time off the podium all season – in race two. He also won race one in Austria – from his first ever Auto GP pole position – before his first (and only) retirement in race two.
A third consecutive race one win, and his fifth race one win of the season, followed at the Nurburgring, and the third place finish in race two ensured the gap to his closest rival Tamas Pal Kiss was greater than 49 points, the maximum number of points on offer during an Auto GP weekend.
“I have to thank the team for giving me a great car,” added Sato. “We’ve always been the fastest in the field and this has given me the confidence to take the Championship comfortably despite missing the Monza round. Now I’m going to focus on the remaining races in the GP2 Championship and try to build on the speed we had in Budapest last time out.”
Euronova team boss Vincenzo Sospiri, a former racing driver himself who attempted to qualify the infamous MasterCard Lola car at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix back in 1997, was delighted to see his driver claim the championship, and praised the work his driver and team put in to get this result.
“I’m very happy for Kimi and for the whole team who have been working very hard to achieve this Championship,” said Sospiri. “This is an incredible result considering Kimi missed the Monza race and we still have one round left so he won six races out of twelve which really shows his talent and what a fast driver he is.”