Trident‘s Giuliano Alesi cruised to GP3 Series victory at the Circuit de Barclona-Catalunya despite having to survive three safety car restarts.
The Frenchman was joined on the podium by countryman Anthoine Hubert and Hubert’s ART Grand Prix team-mate Jake Hughes.
Drivers arrived at the circuit knowing all the rubber they had spent the weekend putting down on the new tarmac had been washed away following heavy rain over night.
As a result drivers opted to start the race on the wet compound of tyres with MP Motorsport‘s Will Palmer the only one attempting slicks.
Pole-sitter Juan Manuel Correa struggled off the grid in the wet conditions and soon found himself running three abreast with team-mate David Beckmann and Alesi with the Frenchman coming out on top.
Beckmann came of the worse of the trio as he ran off over the sausage kerbs before being given a puncture by Leonardo Pulcini which sent him off into the gravel, but he managed to keep going.
Further back, Hubert who having started following his second place yesterday had got himself into third at the start and was battling Correa for second. The newly announced Renault Sport affiliated driver made an audacious move on the American round the outside of Turn 12 – not a tradition overtaking spot – to take second place.
The first of the three safety car periods was deployed when Pedro Piquet lost control on the exit of Turn 9 on lap three and hit the barrier in a massive shunt.
Action resumed on lap seven, with Alesi easily maintaining the lead from Hubert and set the fastest lap on the next two laps to build a gap to his countryman.
It did not last for long however as Gabriel Aubry was edged into the gravel by team-mate Joey Mawson to bring out the safety car once again.
Jenzer Motorsport used this time to switch Beckmann and Tatiana Calderon onto slick tyres despite Palmer struggling to get heat into them.
Alesi once again comfortably dealt with Hubert at the restart but Beckmann immediately found himself running wide and into the gravel at Turn 5.
Just a lap later Calderon had an off an beached herself into the gravel, with the safety car being called on once again.
With time running out the race would not run full distance, losing one lap overall. The safety car came in for the drivers to have a final lap shootout but Alesi done as he had all race and managed it with easy to win from Hubert by two seconds.
Hubert found himself under pressure from Hughes who had started from thirteenth after a difficult Feature Race but the Frenchman managed to stay ahead of his team-mate.
The pole-sitter ended up in fourth, keeping a rapid Dorian Boccolacci behind. Niko Kari muscled his way past the ART of Callum Ilott to take sixth from last on the grid. Simo Laaksonen took the final point on offer in eighth.
The GP3 Series returns to action at Le Castellet on 22-24 June with Hubert leading the championship.
2018 GP3 Series Results: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – Sprint Race
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