PODIUM FOR MERHI IN SPA Atech CRS Grand Prix's Roberto Merhi drove a storming opening GP3 race at Spa on Saturday to take second place from 11th on the grid. Briton Oli Oakes took tenth in race two but there was disappointment for...
PODIUM FOR MERHI IN SPA
Atech CRS Grand Prix's Roberto Merhi drove a storming opening GP3 race at Spa on Saturday to take second place from 11th on the grid. Briton Oli Oakes took tenth in race two but there was disappointment for Italian Vittorio Ghirelli who was punted off on the opening lap in both races, after a promising start netted the ninth fastest lap in practice.
Saturday's opening race saw Merhi make a scintillating start from the sixth row, diving up the inside into the first corner to move into third place. A stalled car on the grid caused problems for Oakes however as he and the pack scattered to avoid a collision, dropping him down the order.
Meanwhile Ghirelli was the unfortunate victim of a first corner collision, the 16 year-old forced out on the spot after contact with Adrien Tambay.
The typically unpredictable Spa weather soon played its part in the outcome of the race, when torrential rain on lap four caused several cars to spin including the race leader and indeed Merhi. The Spaniard quickly recovered though and when the safety car was deployed he took the chance to pit for wet weather tyres, rejoining in second place, which he held to the flag.
Oakes recovered from his problem at the start to finish fifteenth. With the top eight reversed for race two's grid, Merhi lined up seventh with Oakes 17th and Ghirelli 26th.
Race two on Sunday morning proved equally chaotic as the changeable weather once again was a major factor in the results. Another good start by Merhi allowed him into fifth on lap one, but the opening lap proved disappointing for Ghirelli, the teenager spinning out and into the barrier at the first corner.
Oakes recovered well from his grid start to make steady progress over the course of the opening laps until another downpour forced the field into the pits for a tyre change. Merhi pitted while in third place but after his stop dropped two places.
Oakes continued his charge through the field, moving into tenth on the final lap as Merhi, desperate to reclaim sixth and the final championship point, fell foul of the tricky conditions and spun off into the barrier.
The team makes it final appearance of the season in the series finale at Monza in Italy over the weekend of 11/12 September.
-source: atech crs gp