STRONG PACE FOR ATECH CRS GP IN GERMANY Atech CRS Grand Prix got its bid for another podium finish off to a great start in Germany at the weekend with Oli Oakes and Roberto Merhi among the pacesetters in testing. Despite driving with a broken ...
STRONG PACE FOR ATECH CRS GP IN GERMANY
Atech CRS Grand Prix got its bid for another podium finish off to a great start in Germany at the weekend with Oli Oakes and Roberto Merhi among the pacesetters in testing. Despite driving with a broken wrist, sustained in a crash in Spain, Oakes set the third fastest time with Merhi two places behind.
In the final minutes of qualifying, the top spot was continually changing, and it looked like Merhi was going to claim pole for the team, pipping the previous pole-sitter on his last flying lap. However, by the time the chequered flag fell had dropped to fourth, with Italian teenager Vittorio Ghirelli in 26th. Oakes was one of 21 drivers penalised for free practice yellow and red flag infringements and consequently put to the back of grid.
Saturday afternoon's opening race proved eventful even before the lights, with the first start aborted. Unfortunately for Merhi, his engine revs dropped at the first start, and as the field retook their positions for the restart, he was pushed to the back of the grid. However a sterling job by the Spaniard allowed him to claw his way back up through the field, taking advantage of two multi-car incidents to get up into the battle for eighth.
A last lap lunge to take the place which would have given him pole for Sunday's race two however ended when he collided with another car and lost his front wing in the process. He eventually finished 16th.
Ahead, Oakes had also made a great start and was carving his way up the order with a determined drive by the 23 year-old. With two safety car periods interrupting the 17 lap race, he finished 13th at the flag to give him that start position for race two. Ghirelli meanwhile also improved through the race to gain 13 places at the flag, the 16 year-old crossing the line 15th.
Race two on Sunday morning proved even more eventful for Oakes. Another great start was nearly ended at the first corner as he was hit from behind by another car. Despite that he held on to the place and got up to 12th place on the penultimate lap. Another incident which resulted in the safety car bringing the race to a conclusion should have seen the whole field slow down. However as they crossed the start finish straight for the last time Oakes was again hit by another car damaging his rear wing and forcing him out.
For Merhi meanwhile, his chances of another strong result ended on lap one when he was also hit from behind, the resultant damage to his rear wing and front left wheel forcing him into the pits and retirement.
This left Ghirelli to uphold team honours, the youngest driver on the GP3 grid recovering well from being pushed off wide at the mid-point to finish 16th.
The Atech CRS Grand Prix team now has just a week before the next double-header rounds, at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on 31 July/1 August.