Victory for Parente!
Alvaro Parente (Victory Engineering) took a splendid win here in Istanbul after an incident-packed race. Like the winner, Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) and Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) also make it onto the podium for the first time this season!
Penalized for taking an unorthodox line in the pit-lane during qualifying, Davide Valsecchi (Epsilon Euskadi) had to start from row eight instead of row three.
When the red lights went out, Pastor Maldonado squeezed Borja Garcia up against the pit wall. But the Spaniard hit back with a clash of wheels that dispatched the Venezuelan into the safety barriers! This meant Borja Garcia completed lap one in the lead ahead of Alx Danielsson, Mikhail Aleshin, Alvaro Parente, Ben Hanley, Davide Valsecchi, Patrick Pilet, Colin Fleming, Andy Soucek and McIntosh.
Borja Garcia was then shown the black flag on lap five for his antics at the start. The race lead then fell to Danielsson just as compulsory pit stop window opened.
While the leaders opted to stay out, several drivers decided to go in early: Montanari, Kerr, Valsecchi, McIntosh, Rossiter and Salignon all tried to pull the same trick that had worked so well for Hanley in Zolder.
At the front, Danielsson, Aleshin, Parente, Hanley and Pilet all remained tightly grouped. Parente and Pilet decided to make their stops on lap eight. At the same time, Alvaro Barba's race came to an abrupt end in the gravel trap after a spectacular collision with his countryman Celso Miguez.
Alx Danielsson made his stop on lap ten, but was caught in the traffic when he came back out. Aleshin then took his turn at the front ahead of Hanley. But it was to last for one lap only, as both men went in for new tyres.
Aleshin came back out just ahead of Danielsson. The two collided, resulting in a spin for Danielsson. So on lap thirteen, the safety car finally had to be called out. Kostka and Kane, who were yet to make their stops, then held the lead ahead of Parente and Aleshin, who had lost his front wing in the collision with Danielsson.
Racing resumed at the end of lap 16. Kane came in immediately leaving only Kostka yet to make his stop. Kostka duly handed over the race lead to Parente on the following lap. Montanari, who was in the hunt for a podium spot, then crashed out. Robbie Kerr was unable to avoid the man from San Marino's car and was in turn forced to abandon!
After this, Parente had no trouble to move clear, with Aleshin trying to stay in touch without a front nose section. The Russian was however able to hold off Hanley, Valsecchi, McIntosh, Pilet and Rossiter. Valsecchi passed Hanley with two laps to go. In the closing stages, Rossiter found his way past both Pilet then McIntosh to finish fifth.
Alvaro Parente: "This completes a fantastic weekend for me. I'm not sure that we had the best strategy. But I just went on the attack after the safety car peeled off to put myself clear."
Mikhail Aleshin: "This was the definitely the most hard-fought podium of my career. We've been waiting for this since the start of the season! The car was of course difficult to drive with no front wing."
Davide Valsecchi: "I drove a good race with some nice overtaking manoeuvres. Montanari span right in front of me but I managed to avoid him. The car was superb today."