After a somewhat bad-tempered race this afternoon the Carlin team scored yet another 1-2-3 on the streets of Bucharest, netting the team their 150th victory. The win for Jaime Alguersuari over Oliver Turvey and Brendon Hartley means the title...
After a somewhat bad-tempered race this afternoon the Carlin team scored yet another 1-2-3 on the streets of Bucharest, netting the team their 150th victory. The win for Jaime Alguersuari over Oliver Turvey and Brendon Hartley means the title fight goes down to the wire at Donington Park 6 weeks from now, with Turvey 12 points ahead of Alguersuari and 30 ahead of Hartley. After an attack of idiocy on the part of Max Chilton (Hitech Racing) put out Sergio Perez (T-Sport) the Mexican still has a mathematical chance as he is 39 points off Turvey with a maximum of 42 points up for grabs, but it looks like it will take a miracle to stop the Carlin bandwagon now it's really gathered speed. In the National Class Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) got the better of Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) after the Safety Car period caused by Chilton ended, while Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport) ended up 3rd despite starting on class pole.
The race started in blistering heat (36ºC) and high humidity, and it was clear that things were likely to get interesting with Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing) starting from the back after messing up in qualifying and Henry Arundel (Double R Racing) was banished back there with him for stalling on the grid before the green flag lap and dropping behind the rest of the field.
Things got heated even as the lights went out, and they tore into the first corner with Turvey and Hartley both attempting to occupy the same bit of track. As a result they both went wide and that let Alguersuari through into the lead. Afterwards, Brendon was pretty miffed about it, feeling that Oliver had pushed him far too hard, though it's fair to say that Oliver seemed to feel the same about Brendon. When the dust cleared, Turvey was 2nd and Hartley was 5th so he probably had more to feel aggrieved about, stuck as he was behind John Martin (Double R Racing) and Chilton. Perez, on the other hand, made a pretty good start and managed to move up to 8th, while Ericsson got it all wrong and ended up pretty much last after stalling on the grid. That helped Mustonen who jumped up four places, and Arundel who followed him through.
In the National Class, Bridger messed up the first corner, dropping back to 4th in class, which allowed Lloyd into the lead from Wilson with Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) also getting through.
At the front Turvey was trying to find a way past Alguersuari but couldn't quite match the Spaniard's pace, while Hartley was all over the back of Chilton. Eventually he found a way through, and then set about Martin. He went round one side of the Australian while Chilton attempted to go round the other. There was nowhere near enough space for all three cars which meant something had to give. What gave was Chilton, who simply ran out of room while Hartley breezed past and vanished into the distance. And in a way that's where the trouble really started, with a train of cars building up behind Martin whose car was comparatively a lot slower but also seemingly much wider than anyone else's. He now had Esteban Guerrieri (Ultimate Motorsport) all over him while Perez was a place back with Chilton now behind him and trying to recover. They were joined in the procession by Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing), Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) and Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport), all of them bumping and barging as they tried not to trip over each other.
While they were all stuck behind Martin, the Carlin boys were now 1-2- 3 and were running away from the squabbling mob behind Martin. In his pursuit of Alguersuari and Turvey Hartley set the fastest lap of the race, but the real action was in the midfield area. Perez was now looking very leery behind Chilton, and no-one looked too comfortable. However it was clear that whatever else was going on, Perez really, really wanted to get past Chilton. He was glued to the Hitech car in every corner while he worked out where to make his move, while Grubmuller was giving Devaney similar treatment and Guerrieri was skittering after Martin. It wasn't long before Chilton and Guerrieri were both warned for using the escape road, and then Perez found his way alongside Chilton into the first corner. Perez pulled ahead and cut across and Chilton simply declined to concede the corner, punting the Mexican driver in the gearbox. Perez spun, Chilton ended up going a long way off and then, just as Perez was figuring out whether he could get going again or now, Teixeira arrived completely unsighted and smacked into the side of the T-Sport car. Chilton drove away which was probably as well for him, while Perez and Teixeira were left to await the rescue truck.
Needless to say the Safety Car had to be deployed. Alguersuari's lead evaporated as he led round Turvey and Hartley while Martin and the rest of the mob caught up again. Guerrieri was 5th from Devaney, Grubmuller, Abay, Oliver Oakes (Eurotek Racing) and National Class leader Lloyd. 11th was Wilson who was in front of Bridger, Mustonen, Guerrero, Ericsson, Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport), Arundel, Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport) and the cause of all the trouble, Chilton. The only thing to be said in favour of the Demolition Derby was that it had put Mustonen and Ericsson back into the points. Chilton was almost immediately given a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident while the rest of the field settled down to wait for the restart.
At the restart, Alguersuari held steady and the Carlin trio began to break away again almost immediately, leaving Martin to his own devices once again. Chilton gets drive through for causing accident. Of course all that had allowed Hartley to catch right up and now he was looking very keen to pass Turvey if he possibly could. In fact he was all over the show, desperately looking for a way round. He wasn't about to do anything silly though and two laps into the restart they were around 4 seconds clear of the pack, where things seemed to have calmed down slightly. It was now all happening further back as evidenced by Major's retirement and Mustonen following him out of the running shortly after. The other thing that happened at the restart was that Wilson got the drop on Lloyd when the latter made a mistake and was now leading the National Class.
While Turvey seemed unable to shake off Hartley, and Martin had a queue behind him, Chilton finally came in to serve his penalty, pretty much just as Martin un-stoppered the bottleneck by going off all on his own in the usual spot and ending up in the barriers but fairly well out of the way. That all had a ripple effect, letting the Ultimate pair of Guerrieri and Devaney finally run a sensible pace, while the problem area was now behind Abay, who had the National Class leaders stuck behind him, and Bridger who wasn't at all keen to let Ericsson through even if he wasn't in the same class. Abay was really holding up Wilson and Lloyd but there wasn't a thing they could do about it. It must have given Wilson the odd heart-in-mouth moment though, given how close Lloyd was getting now.
However, from here on in common sense prevailed, and Alguersuari came home to a classy win, ahead of Turvey, who consolidated his series lead despite the fact that Hartley took more than a couple of looks at ways past his team-mate. Guerrieri claimed 4th from Devaney, Grubmuller, Oakes, Abay, National Class winner Wilson, and Lloyd. 11th was Bridger from Ericsson, Al Khalifa, Guerrero, Arundel and Chilton. There were no other survivors. Afterwards it was announced that Chilton had been awarded a further penalty for taking Perez out of the race and will he will consequently start the next race ten grid places back from wherever he qualifies.
The fastest laps of the race went to Hartley and Bridger.
Weather: Very hot, sunny.
Next Races: Rounds 21 & 22, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 11th/12th October.