Spa GP3: Leclerc holds off charging Dennis for win

Charles Leclerc converted pole position into victory in the opening GP3 race of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, as Jake Dennis carved his way up from 13th on the grid to take second.

Spa GP3: Leclerc holds off charging Dennis for win

From pole, Leclerc grabbed the early advantage ahead of ART Grand Prix teammate Nyck de Vries, as front row starter Jake Hughes bogged down off the line and dropped several places heading into La Source.

Exiting the first corner, the DAMS driver got involved in a three-way tangle with Matt Parry and Arjun Maini that put all three out on the spot and brought out the Safety Car.

The race didn't get back underway until the end of the fourth lap, as Leclerc led de Vries, Antonio Fuoco and Dennis, who had made up nine places to grab fourth.

That was how the order up front remained for the bulk of the race, as Leclerc kept just out of the reach of de Vries until the Dutchman started to drop back in the closing stages.

Dennis was finally able to pick off Fuoco with four laps to go for third, having shadowed the Italian ever since the end of the caution period, and quickly threatened de Vries as Leclerc made good his escape.

By the time Dennis had moved into second, doing so approaching Les Combes, the gap to Leclerc up ahead was out to five seconds.

Two personal best laps by Dennis to end the race reduced the gap to 2.3s at the finish, but it wasn't enough to prevent Leclerc from recording his third victory of the season - and his first since Austria.

Behind, de Vries held on for the final podium spot ahead of Trident man Fuoco.

Steijn Schothorst spent the bulk of the race running in fifth, but found himself demoted on the last lap by Jack Aitken, who came within four tenths of denying Fuoco fourth.

The Arden driver had stormed up the order from outside the top 10, but not without being shown the black-and-white driving standards flag amid some chaotic battles.

Behind Schothorst, Santino Ferrucci was the best finisher for DAMS in seventh (Kevin Jorg stalling on the grid), ahead of Matevos Issakyan, who takes reverse grid pole for Sunday's race in eighth.

Alex Albon made his way up from an unpromising starting slot of P17 to take two points for ninth, while Giuliano Alesi scored his first GP3 point in 10th.

Red Bull junior Niko Kari's series debut ended with a retirement, suffering a rear-right puncture after being tagged by Tatiana Calderon at La Source shortly after the Safety Car period.

GP3 race results:

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