Varhaug storms to victory in Barcelona
Jenzer Motorsport driver Pal Varhaug pulled away from the rest of the field at Circuit de Catalunya to take a historic victory in the first ever GP3 Series race.
Young Pal Varhaug started his GP3 Series season with a bang today in Barcelona for the opening of the GP3 Series first season: he led today's race from start to finish, managing race-long pressure from Status' Robert Wickens and snatching a first win that puts him logically at the top of the drivers' standings.
After difficult conditions during qualifying this morning, Race one was a much different story. When the lights turned green at Circuit de Catalunya for the inaugural first GP3 race, the track temperature was 33 degrees and the sun was brightly shining. Thirty young drivers starting their first ever GP3 race was always going to be exciting, and sure enough there was plenty of action on the first lap, including a couple of casualties at the start. After the lights turned green Daniel Morad was tapped from behind and flew across the starting grid, unfortunately for the rest of the field it was sideways, and a slow starting pole sitter Nigel Melker ended up a casualty of the carnage. By the end of the first lap Daniel Morad and Nigel Melker were in pits.
While Varhaug took the lead and tried to pull away from his closest rivals, Esteban Gutierrez also had a storming start and by the end of the first lap had moved up from seventh to third and from then on spent a frustrating fifteen laps behind Wickens who was busy trying to reduce the gap between him and Varhaug. The Canadian put in a strong performance to hold off the charging Mexican and despite the ART driver's best efforts Wickens wouldn't yield and Guttierez had to settle for third.
By the end of lap four there were more wounded; Michael Christensen and Felipe Guimaraes had a tussle prematurely ending both MW Arden and Addax Team driver's races. A feisty Josef Newgarden and Pablo Sanchez Lopez also touched putting each other out of the remainder of the race. The top three were now status quo with Varhaug holding his own at the front of the field to take the victory. The young Norwegian put in a fine performance at the front ending the race 1.563 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
In fourth place, Dean Smith had a relatively lonely race 3.276 seconds ahead of GP3 newcomer Jean-Eric Vergne for Tech 1 Racing. Simon Trummer couldn't match his team race winning teammate, but still finished in a strong sixth spot.
Further down the field Alexander Rossi, who started at the back of the grid, put in an impressive performance making his way up into 15th by the end of the first lap. He carried on pushing eventually finishing 8th behind Carlin's Lucas Foresti, and will start tomorrow's race on pole position on the reversed grid.