Lotus GP’s Aaro Vainio takes first GP3 win in Monte Carlo
After securing pole yesterday, Finnish ace Aaro Vainio went one step better by winning the prestigious Monaco race, the first in the history of the GP3 Series. It was a debut career win in the Series for the Lotus GP driver to make a perfect start to the weekend.
With so much anticipation before the race, 26 eager drivers got their first wheel to wheel action around the famous street circuit as the race got underway in hot and sunny conditions. Vainio made the start and defended P1 but it was Atech CRS GP’s Tamas Pal Kiss who got the better of Ocean Racing Technology’s Kevin Ceccon and snuck into P2 before the first corner.
Conor Daly who had started from P8 on the grid was deemed to have made a jump start and later suffered a drive through penalty. However, after initially moving away at the start, he was unable to getaway and yellow flags were waved as miraculously all the drivers behind the American managed to avoid his Lotus GP car.
After the first lap, the Finn had already built up a 1.170s advantage over Pal Kiss and maintained his pace. With Monaco notorious as a circuit extremely hard to overtake, there were battles throughout the field, which were very intense. David Fumanelli got the jump over his MW Arden team mate Mitch Evans at the start to go P4 and then had to hold off a very determined New Zealander for the remainder of the race. There was also a titanic tussle for P6 between Daniel Abt and Antonio Felix Da Costa (Carlin), with the Portuguese star crawling all over the back of the Lotus GP star in an attempt to find a place to out-manouerve the German.
Ethan Ringel made contact with the barrier at the exit of Sainte Devote, which brought an abrupt end to his race, his Atech CRS GP was cleared under yellow flags. Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Vainio edged out his lead over his Hungarian rival and was over three seconds ahead. Marlon Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) and Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) got into a dogfight that was too last until the chequered flag for P8, as did Alex Brundle who was defending the last points position in the top ten from Alice Powell (Status Grand Prix) and his Carlin team mate William Buller who started 15th after an imposed grid penalty from Round 1 in Barcelona.
Pal Kiss continued to try and claw back the advantage Vainio had built up and the duo pulled out a near 8 second margin over Ceccon in P3. The Finn was not going to surrender his lead and produced a lights to flag victory in Monaco to charge to the top of the Drivers Standings. Pal Kiss took P2 and Ceccon produced his best result of his GP3 career with a rostrum finish. Fumanelli maintained P4 to beat his team mate Evans home, ahead of Abt, Felix Da Costa, Stockinger, Ellinas and Brundle.
Vainio now has an 18 point lead over Evans in the Standings with Daly third. Reverse pole for Race 2 goes to Marlon Stockinger and the race will take place tomorrow – Saturday at 17.55 CET.