Spa GP3: Ocon holds off Bernstorff to win chaotic race

Esteban Ocon sealed a second victory of the GP3 season, holding off the challenge of Emil Bernstorff at the conclusion of a bizarre, incident-filled race.

Poleman Luca Ghiotto made a sluggish getaway from pole position, allowing Ocon through from second on the grid to lead the opening lap from Bernstorff, Kevin Ceccon and Ghiotto.

The points leader wasted no time in making up for lost ground, passing fellow countryman Ceccon for third at the final chicane - but tagging the Arden man's left-rear tyre with his front wing in the process.

Ceccon's tyre duly let go at Eau Rouge, putting him out of contention and leaving Ocon, Bernstorff and Ghiotto clear out front when Jann Mardenborough lost control of his Carlin-run machine and suffered a huge sideways shunt at the top of Eau Rouge.

This caused a Virtual Safety Car period, after which Ghiotto dived up the inside of Bernstorff for second before being handed a five-second time penalty for the earlier contact with Ceccon, effectively promoting the Brit back to second place.

That was how things stood when a second, lengthier VSC was called to remove the stricken car of GP3 returnee Beitske Visser.

Ocon appeared to jump the gun somewhat when the action resumed, maintaining his advantage over Ghiotto when a third VSC was caused by a crash at Fagnes between Sandy Stuvik and Matheo Tuscher.

The race got back under way on what appeared to be the final lap after the race clock reached zero, with Ghiotto being caught out and jumped by Bernstorff.

Confusion followed as the chequered flag was not there to greet Ocon at the end of the lap, forcing the Frenchman to hang on for one last tour to take the win by just over a second.

Ghiotto was third on the road, but his penalty dropped him down to sixth behind Marvin Kirchhofer, Antonio Fuoco and Jimmy Eriksson, who served a drive-through penalty for jumping the start under the VSC.

Race results:

Pos  Driver  Team  Time/Gap
Esteban Ocon ART Grand Prix 43'59.187
Emil Bernstorff Arden International 1.055
Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix 5.542
Antonio Fuoco Carlin 5.818
Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP 8.497
Luca Ghiotto Trident 9.606
Alfonso Celis ART Grand Prix 15.596
Alex Palou Campos Racing 18.547
Alex Bosak Arden International 23.487
10  Ralph Boschung Jenzer Motorsport 23.726
11  Alex Fontana Status Grand Prix 24.200
12  Mitch Gilbert Carlin 25.817
13  Artur Janosz Trident 28.445
14  Zaid Ashkanani Campos Racing 30.382
15  Adderly Fong Koiranen GP 46.358
Ret  Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport  
Ret  Sandy Stuvik Status Grand Prix  
Ret  Pal Varhaug Jenzer Motorsport  
Ret  Seb Morris Status Grand Prix  
Ret  Beitske Visser Trident  
Ret  Matt Parry Koiranen GP  
Ret  Jann Mardenborough Carlin  
Ret  Kevin Ceccon Arden International  
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About this article
Series GP3
Event Spa-Francorchamps
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Emil Bernstorff , Esteban Ocon , Luca Ghiotto
Teams ART Grand Prix
Article type Race report