Luca Ghiotto won the second GP3 Series race in Bahrain on Saturday morning, ahead of title rival Esteban Ocon – which sets up a potentially epic title decider in next weekend’s finale.
Ocon came into this race with a three-point lead over Ghiotto, but leaves Bahrain two points in arrears – exactly the same deficit with which he came into this weekend.
From reversed-grid pole position, Alfonso Celis Jr rocketed into Turn 1, ahead of Jann Mardenborough who collided with Jimmy Eriksson as they went three-wide with a fast-starting Ghiotto. Eriksson was forced wide, and tumbled to ninth, while Mardenborough’s car took enough damage to force him out.
Ghiotto was instantly promoted to second ahead of yesterday’s winner Marvin Kirchhofer, who gained several places through Turn 2.
Artur Janosz and Ocon were next up, the latter making a slow start and then getting stuck behind a slowing Mardenborough through Turn 2, as Emil Bernstorff and Matt Parry raced hard for sixth
Ghiotto swept past Celis for the lead at Turn 1 on lap two, as Ocon passed Janosz through Turn 5 for fourth.
The race was then neutralized due to a huge accident when Sandy Stuvik flew over the rear of Matheo Tuscher at the final corner and slammed into the tyrewall.
Fortunately he walked away unscathed, but the race was red flagged to retrieve Stuvik’s battered machine, which had three corners swiped from it, and repair the barrier.
At the restart, Ghiotto made a clean getaway, with Ocon passing Kirchhofer for third. Janosz fell back to seventh, behind Bernstorff and Parry.
Ocon passed Celis for second at Turn 1, while Bernstorff did likewise to Kirchhofer, with Parry following suit on the run to Turn 4.
Ghiotto was 2s ahead by this point, however, with Ocon not making any inroads.
Parry passed Bernstorff for fourth at half distance, while Antonio Fuoco charged up to sixth, demoting Kirchhofer and Janosz. Eriksson passed Janosz for eighth with a bold move at Turn 10.
Parry caught Celis and muscled past for third with an aggressive move at Turn 8, which cost Celis places to Bernstorff and Fuoco too after they bumped wheels on the exit.
Eriksson overtook Celis for seventh on the penultimate lap.
Ghiotto crucially set the race’s fastest lap for two extra points, and won the race by 2.3s over Ocon. Parry was a distant third after a charging drive, ahead of fellow Brit Bernstorff.
Fuoco and Kirchhofer took their battle for fifth right to the chequered flag, the Italian only sealing the place at the final corner. Eriksson and Celis rounded out the point scorers.