Egor Orudzhev clinched his fifth victory of the season in the opening race of the weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya but it was not enough to keep him in the championship hunt as Louis Deletraz and Tom Dillmann locked out the podium.
Orudzhev made another great start from fifth on the grid to lead into the first turn, diving into the inside of Dillmann, and ultimately was unchallenged until the chequered flag, extending his lead almost at will, ultimately cruising home with an advantage of 9.891 seconds.
But all eyes were on the battle for second between Deletraz and Dillmann. Initially Dillmann was in control of the position, and was on course to assume the lead in the championship with Deletraz down in fourth, but once the Swiss driver jumped ahead of Matthieu Vaxiviere on the third lap, the battle was on.
Deletraz shadowed the AVF by Adrian Vallés for a number of laps before finally getting a great run out of the final turn, forcing Dillmann to out-brake himself into turn one, with the Fortec Motorsports driver sweeping around the outside of his rival on the exit of turn two.
Dillmann was unable to take the attack back on Deletraz in the closing laps, ultimately being forced to look in his mirrors as Aurélien Panis closed the gap, but the two Frenchmen retained position, but the lead for Deletraz in the championship is now six points with just Sunday’s finale to come.
Matevos Isaakyan took fifth for SMP Racing ahead of Vitor Baptista of RP Motorsport, with the latter surviving a late race mistake when he ran heavily over the kerbs at the back chicane to take sixth ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi of Fortec Motorsports and Yu Kanamaru of Teo Martin Motorsport.
Roy Nissany saw his championship chances also come to an end after a disappointing race to ninth for Lotus, while Beitske Visser claimed the final point in the second of the Teo Martin Motorsport entries.
Jack Aitken missed out on points after the RP Motorsport driver stalled on the dummy grid, causing an aborted start. The Briton also made a mid-race pit stop and twice had to pass Giuseppe Cipriani on track.
Vaxiviere’s race went from bad to worse as the Frenchman fell down the order with an every-increasingly difficult SMP Racing car to drive before pulling into the pits to retire, meaning he also fell out of contention for the title, as did Rene Binder, who was an early retiree in the second Lotus.
As well as Vaxiviere and Binder, there were retirements for Thomas Randle of Comtec Racing, who pulled into the pits with a problem, and for Alfonso Celis Jr of AVF, who crashed out at turn one on the opening lap.
Circuit de Catalunya Race 1 Result
|1||7||Egor Orudzhev||RUS||Arden Motorsport||39:41.097|
|2||1||Louis Deletraz||SWI||Fortec Motorsports||+9.891|
|4||8||Aurelien Panis||FRA||Arden Motorsport||+13.422|
|5||24||Matevos Isaakyan||RUS||SMP Racing||+22.646|
|6||22||Vitor Baptista||BRZ||RP Motorsport||+26.592|
|7||2||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRZ||Fortec Motorsports||+31.454|
|8||25||Yu Kanamaru||JAP||Teo Martin Motorsport||+32.139|
|10||6||Beitske Visser||NED||Teo Martin Motorsport||+37.188|
|11||21||Jack Aitken||GBR||RP Motorsport||+1:23.722|
|12||20||Giuseppe Cipriani||ITA||Durango Racing Team||+1 Lap|
|RET||23||Matthieu Vaxiviere||FRA||SMP Racing||Retired|
|RET||17||Thomas Randle||AUS||Comtec Racing||Retired|
|RET||15||Alfonso Celis Jr||MEX||AVF||Retired|