Monza GP3: Dennis takes maiden win in action-packed race

Jake Dennis powered through to a maiden GP3 victory at Monza, as teammate Jack Aitken made it an Arden 1-2.

Monza GP3: Dennis takes maiden win in action-packed race
Jake Dennis, Arden International
Jake Dennis, Arden International
Jack Aitken, Arden International
Charles Leclerc, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken, Arden International
Jack Aitken, Arden International
Jake Dennis, Arden International

The duo eased past championship leader Charles Leclerc on an early restart and never looked back, bringing it home in formation despite late pressure from Jake Hughes.

Having taken a surprise last-second pole earlier on Saturday, Leclerc kept the Arden duo behind at the start, with Aitken unsuccessfully challenging Dennis for runner-up.

And as DAMS' Kevin Jorg crawled to a halt on lap 2, bringing out a safety car, only to get going again, Leclerc got to spend a few more laps at the helm.

But the championship leader did not have the pace to lead the pack - as Dennis again held off a charging Aitken on the lap 4 restart, he then came from 0.4s behind at the line next time around to pick off Leclerc for the lead at Variante del Rettifilo.

The Monegasque surrendered the spot without much of a fight, and did the same for Aitken a lap later.

However, he would extend no such courtesy to title rival and fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco, who was next up the road, having overtaken Leclerc's teammates Nirei Fukuzumi and Alex Albon.

Fuoco clearly had the pace on Leclerc in the early stages and was all over the championship leader, eventually being forced slightly off-track on entry into Variante della Roggia - an incident which was investigated by the stewards, but yielded no further action.

And that incident wound up Fuoco's best chance to pass Leclerc, as the Trident driver's pace dropped off immediately after and tumbled down the order.

Meanwhile, DAMS driver Hughes, who had started eighth, was moving in the opposite direction, setting the pace as he eased past Albon, Fukuzumi and eventually Leclerc, who did not put up a fight when being passed on lap 15.

Hughes closed in on Aitken by the end but could only make up an all-British podium, as Dennis ended the race with a winning margin of 1.9 seconds.

Despite late pressure from Fukuzumi, Leclerc came home in fourth, with fellow ART drivers Albon and Nyck de Vries in sixth and seventh.

A major drop-off in pace did not stop Fuoco from hanging on to eighth and reverse-grid pole, with Matt Parry coming up 0.4s short in ninth and Tatiana Calderon bagging the final point in 10th.

Despite the hectic nature of the race, collisions and accidents were few and far between, with the notable exceptions of a crash between teammates Ralph Boschung and Matevos Isaakyan early on and Haas development driver Santino Ferrucci going off in the gravel with one lap to go.

The outcome of the race means that ART Grand Prix, which has failed to get a car on the podium for only the fourth third time in 2016, has sealed the teams' title with five races to spare.

It's the French team's sixth GP3 title from seven seasons.

Race results

 

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