Dean Stoneman wins thrilling opening race Briton clinches maiden F2 victory on the streets of Marrakech Dean Stoneman has sealed his maiden F2 victory in a thrilling and chaotic first race on the streets of Marrakech, Morocco. Stoneman, who...
Dean Stoneman wins thrilling opening race
Briton clinches maiden F2 victory on the streets of Marrakech
Dean Stoneman has sealed his maiden F2 victory in a thrilling and chaotic first race on the streets of Marrakech, Morocco.
Stoneman, who started from pole, defended his position in the opening laps before steadily building a gap over Jolyon Palmer in second place. He was made to work for his win, however, as three safety car periods closed the field and allowed his rivals to revitalise their attack on the race leader. Stoneman defended well on each occasion, keeping his cool to take his maiden win in the Moroccan heat.
Palmer looked assured in second, even when under pressure from Philipp Eng in third, but suffered heartbreak in the closing stages as his car retired, which caused the third and final safety car period. That promoted Eng into second, with Kelvin Snoeks rounding out the top three.
The pattern of the incident filled race began as early as the opening lap although all 21 cars made it through turn one without a problem. It wasn't long before drama struck however, as Jack Clarke and Nicola De Marco ran side-by-side into the first chicane. Clarke overshot on entry and both cars bumped across the run-off area before making contact as they rejoined the circuit. Johan Jokinen nipped around the outside of both of them as Clarke and De Marco were fired off into the barrier.
In a separate yet simultaneous incident, Benjamin Bailly also outbraked himself going into turn four and the Belgian racer took out the unfortunate Will Bratt. With cars lay stricken all over the circuit, the Race Director was left with no alternative but to bring out the safety car for the first time.
The move of the race happened shortly after the restart as Eng slid down the inside of Johan Jokinen at turn four on lap six. It was a textbook manoeuvre and one that promoted the Austrian up to third position. Stoneman was in the process of checking out up front, and the Briton held a five second lead before the next major incident commenced.
Kazim Vasiliauskas was busy carving his way through the field, having missed qualifying yesterday due to crash damage, and the Lithuanian had already made his way into the points by lap nine. One lap later and he had also blasted by female racer Natalia Kowalska. As the Polish driver tried to stay in touch, she outbraked herself at the now infamous turn four chicane, and hit the back of Vasiliauskas' car. Kowalska was out on the spot, whilst Vasiliauskas returned at the back of the field.
A short safety car period followed by the pack were back underway on lap 13, as a battle began for the top four positions. Stoneman, with cold brakes, came under intense pressure from Jolyon Palmer, whilst Eng and Jokinen went side-by-side for third. Jokinen tried to hang on but Eng had the inside line as they ran down to turn one for the fourteenth time. Jokinen carried far too much speed into the corner and crashed heavily into the barrier on the outside.
It was no surprise to see another safety car period, but it was a surprise to see second placed Jolyon Palmer grind to a halt shortly after. It was not entirely clear what the technical problem was but his rear wheels seized up and his race was over.
But for a 100 yard dash to the finish line, the race effectively finished under the safety car with Stoneman, Eng and Snoeks completing the podium positions. There were also some great stories behind as Ivan Samarin took fourth after great move around the outside of Ricardo Teixeira. Armaan Ebrahim fought his way to seventh after starting from the pitlane while Paul Rees scored his maiden F2 points. Sergey Afanasiev, Benjamin Lariche and Kazim Vasiliauskas rounded out the top ten.