Campos Racing‘s Leonardo Pulcini powered to his maiden victory in the GP3 Series at Sochi.
The Italian crossed the line just under four seconds ahead of home favourite Nikita Mazepin who overtook championship leader Anthoine Hubert on the final lap.
In a manic opening lap, Pulcini started well and pulled across fellow front-row started Callum Ilott off the line.
Pulcini, kept the ART Grand Prix driver behind him to complete the first lap well out of DRS range.
Behind, action began to unfold with Richard Verschoor engaged in battle with Simo Laaksonen as the two looked to progress up the field.
David Beckmann soon joined the pair’s battle.
On lap five, Ilott began his descent down the field. Firstly, losing second to Hubert the Briton quickly dropped behind Giuliano Alesi and Mazepin.
The following lap, his ART team-mate Jake Hughes passed him.
Out front, Pulcini was flexing his muscles to build up a 2.5s lead by the end of lap six.
For the first half of the race, the gap between Pulcini and Hubert remained rather stagnant, whilst Verschoor continued his climb through the field to pass the ailing Ilott.
The Briton then fell victim to Beckmann and Laaksonen shortly after as his hopes of closing in on Hubert in the championship began to dwindle.
At the half point, Verschoor found his way through Hughes and began hunting down the leading trio as the ART-man fell into the clutches of Beckmann.
Ilott meanwhile was fighting with Juan Manuel Correa and Joey Mawson with the trio trading places as they battled for eighth and hope for reverse-grid pole for tomorrow’s Sprint Race.
Out front, Hubert was reeling in Pulcini but the Italian was able to reopen the gap to the Frenchman.
This allowed Mazepin the shot of catching Hubert and did so after the Frenchman went very at Turn Five on the penultimate lap.
Mazepin attempted to pass with the aid of DRS into Turn 13 but Hubert was able to cover him off.
However, Hubert had no answer to Mazepin’s advances on the final lap and had to concede defeat in Turn 2 with Verschoor quickly catching the pair.
Pulcini, however had been able to built an unassailable lead to claim his maiden GP3 win and the first for Campos in 2018.
Mazepin was second in his first home race, just remaining out of reach for Hubert.
The championship leader managed to hold onto third, benefiting from the chasing Verschoor using up his DRS allocation.
Beckmann recovered from a disastrous qualifying to fifth ahead of Laaksonen as the pair cleared Hughes on the final lap.
Mawson came home in eighth and along with it reverse grid pole.
Jenzer Motorsport pair Correa and Tatiana Calderon completed the top ten.
Having started in the front row, Ilott finished way down in thirteenth.
The Sprint Race gets underway at 10.05 local time tomorrow.
2018 GP3 Series Results: Sochi – Feature Race
|1||18||Leonardo Pulcini||ITA||Campos Racing||38m56.960|
|2||3||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||ART Grand Prix||+3.955|
|3||2||Anthoine Hubert||FRA||ART Grand Prix||+7.037|
|4||22||Richard Verschoor||NED||MP Motorsport||+8.314|
|6||19||Simo Laaksonen||FIN||Campos Racing||+13.442|
|7||4||Jake Hughes||GBR||ART Grand Prix||+14.198|
|8||16||Joey Mawson||AUS||Arden International||+24.084|
|9||10||Juan Manuel Correa||USA||Jenzer Motorsport||+25.503|
|10||9||Tatiana Calderon||COL||Jenzer Motorsport||+31.565|
|11||14||Gabriel Aubry||FRA||Arden International||+31.973|
|12||11||Jannes Fittje||DEU||Jenzer Motorsport||+33.156|
|13||1||Callum Ilott||GBR||ART Grand Prix||+35.793|
|16||15||Sacha Fenestraz||FRA||Arden International||+38.412|
|17||23||Devlin DeFrancesco||CAN||MP Motorsport||+39.357|
|DNF||20||Diego Mechaca||MEX||Campos Racing||DNF|