Jerez F3.5: Isaakyan wins as title rivals Dillmann and Deletraz collide

Matevos Isaakyan took his maiden Formula V8 3.5 victory in a dramatic Saturday race at Jerez, which was headlined by a collision between leading title contenders Tom Dillmann and Louis Deletraz.

Dillmann entered Jerez with an 11-point cushion over Renault junior Deletraz, and powered past the Swiss driver early on, running the first half of the race in fourth.

But Deletraz kept with the Frenchman throughout and finally attempted a lunge at the Angel Nieto corner on lap 17, putting Dillmann into the gravel and out of the race.

Fellow Renault junior Jack Aitken, making his debut in the series, had topped qualifying earlier in the day - and while technical checks then found that his RP Motorsport car's left sidepod did not conform with the regulations, the team appealed the subsequent exclusion, allowing Aitken to start on pole.

However, the British-Korean driver struggled massively off the line at the start of the race and was second-to-last heading into the first corner.

With fellow front row starter Isaakyan making a distinctly average start, his teammate Matthieu Vaxiviere dashed to the left of Aitken's slowing car and took the lead of an SMP Racing 1-2 - with SMP-backed Arden driver Egor Orudzhev making up the top three.

The trio soon pulled well clear of fourth-placed Dillmann, Isaakyan initially running within a second of Vaxiviere before having to switch his attention to keeping Orudzhev at bay.

But when the podium order appeared settled for good, the incident between Deletraz and Dillmann brought out the safety car, bunching the field back up.

Vaxiviere controlled the restart comfortably, but then ran through the gravel at the chicane, with Isaakyan breezing past and Orudzhev then forcing Vaxiviere wide, which allowed Deletraz to briefly move up to third round the outside of the hairpin.

The Renault junior was soon re-passed by Vaxiviere, but the Frenchman's victory hopes were already gone, with Isaakyan and Orudzhev escaping out front.

And while Orudzhev got within half a second of the race lead on the final lap, 18-year-old Isaakyan kept his cool to bring home a career-first Formula V8 3.5 win.

Vaxiviere coasted home in third, ahead of Deletraz, Aurelien Panis and Rene Binder.

Yu Kanamaru, Beitske Visser, Roy Nissany and Pietro Fittipaldi completed the top 10, while RP Motorsport pair Aitken and Vitor Baptista made up the list of classified finishers.

There were three other retirements along with Dillmann, as Giuseppe Cipriani and series debut Tom Randle spun out early on, while Force India development driver Alfonso Celis called it a day in the pits after nine laps.

Deletraz's fourth-place finish provisionally puts him into the championship lead, one point clear of Dillmann, while their collision remains under investigations.

As it stands, Panis, Nissany, Vaxiviere, Orudzhev and Binder are all within 50 points of the Swiss driver.

UPDATE: A post-race decision by the stewards sees Deletraz receive a 10-second time penalty, dropping the Swiss driver out of the points and giving the championship lead back to Dillmann.

Among the title contenders, Panis has been promoted to fourth, while Binder takes fifth.

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Event Jerez
Track Circuito de Jerez
Drivers Tom Dillmann , Matthieu Vaxivière , Egor Orudzhev , Louis Deletraz , Matevos Isaakyan
Teams SMP Racing
Article type Race report