Sergio Campana is the fourth different winner of the Auto GP 2012 season
The Italian F3 Champion took an amazing success crossing the line with an advantage of just two tenths on championship leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, after a glowing-hot fight in the last five laps of the Race.
The duel for the win was the last act of an action-packed Race 1 that proved to be eventful right from the start: poleman Sergey Sirotkin nearly stalled when the lights went off and dropped to P9, while Pål Varhaug clinched a perfect start and took the lead ahead of Campana, Quaife-Hobbs, Giancarlo Serenelli, Chris Van Der Drift, Facu Regalia and Daniel de Jong.
Despite some big pressure from Campana in the first few laps, Varhaug held the lead quite comfortably ahead of the MLR71 driver, while Quaife-Hobbs already seemed to struggle with tyres and had to defend his 3rd place by some well placed attacks by Serenelli.
On lap 4 the Briton stopped to change tyres with an early pit-stop strategy, followed by Van der Drift, Victor Guerin and Max Snegirev. Behind the leaders, the very first laps also saw some action: after his bad start Sirotkin gave his best to recover and went past Ricci on the first lap, then doing the same with de Jong one lap later; in the meantime Regalia was putting pressure on Van der Drift for fifth place but on lap 3 the Argentinian driver of Campos Racing spun at the second chicane and went into the wall, luckily with damages for the car alone.
At half race Varhaug started stretching his lead on Campana, who stopped for his mandatory tyre change on lap 10. Varhaug did the same at the end of lap 12, and that was a key moment of the race: the Norwegian, who seemed headed for an easy win, stalled his Virtuosi UK car at the restart and lost a lot of time, exiting the pits in third place 10” adrift from Quaife-Hobbs.
So the fight for the win became a matter between Campana and the talented Briton of SuperNova: Sergio had just a 1” gap on Adrian after the pit-stop and managed to control the situation until 3 laps to go, when the grip of his rear tyres really started fading.
Quaife-Hobbs tried to make the most of his rival’s traction struggles, but Campana used the layout of the Moulay El Hassan circuit and the Overboost he had left in the best possible way, boasting a stunning defensive drive. The two went side by side many times but Campana managed to keep the inside line at every chicane and eventually crossed the line first, giving newcomer MLR71 their first win in the Championship.
A disappointed Varhaug closed the race in third place followed by Van der Drift, with Ricci 5th ahead of Sirotkin. De Jong was 7th, while Antonio Spavone took P8 and hence will start from pole on tomorrow’s reversed grid. The Italian got a penalty for cutting a chicane while he was fighting with Quaife-Hobbs, but despite that he managed to finish well into the top ten, boasting another convincing performance. 9th place went to Ombra’s Yann Cunha, while Series returnee Francesco Dracone got the last available point with P10.
Marrakech, Race 1: the drivers’ quotes
The first race of the Marrakech Auto GP weekend was a real thriller that in the end saw Sergio Campana clinch an impressive win ahead of Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and early race leader Pål Varhaug. Here is what the podium finishers said after the race.
That final laps were really the highlight of the Race, tell us how it was from your cockpit.
“It was really hard, because in the last few laps my rear tyres were really gone. I had wheelspin everywhere, even on the straight, and so keeping Adrian at bay was really difficult. He had more traction than me and that meant that at each corner exit he was getting really close. He came alongside me more than once, but I was determined not to let him through and that’s what I did. At the last chicane he managed to get the inside line but as soon as I realized that, I decided that I was going to brake as late as possible and I kept the lead”.
The result is a deserved reward for MLR71, taking a win at their fifth race in the Series is quite an achievement…
“I’m really happy for the team, they did a terrific job. If you look at our performances we have always been quick with this car, we were on top right from the Official Test in Monza. Then for many reasons we didn’t manage to make the most of our potential, we made some mistakes that can happen in a very young team like ours, but the potential was always there. So getting this win means having the deserved reward for all the hard work we put in our commitment”.
Were you expecting Quaife-Hobbs to try so hard considering that he’s leading the championship?
“At first I thought that maybe he would have been happy with 2nd place, as it was good for his championship aims. Anyway, I soon realized that he was going to give me a hard time. It was an hard but fair fight, I enjoyed it a lot”.
One of the keys to your second place was a good start: you made up two places, and then opted for an early pit-stop.
“We knew that from P5 on the grid a good start was needed to hope for a podium finish, and luckily I got away well. Anyway, my first laps were a bit difficult: we opted for starting on very old tyres and that meant that I lost five seconds to Campana before my stop. Once I changed to new softs, I knew I really had to push. I did it, and if it wasn’t for Spavone, who made me lose at least a couple of second cutting the chicane when I had already gone through, I think that I would have gone past Campana when he pitted. Instead, I was right on his gearbox when he came out of the pit-lane.
And then at least three amazing laps came…
“In the first couple of laps tried to understand if Sergio was leaving some gaps, but when I saw that he really started to struggle with traction I decided to attack. I was trying as hard as I could without risking crashing and one time I did manage to get onto Sergio’s inside, but he had some power-boost to spare and was able to get ahead. I had used all mine in the first part of the race, and so there was nothing I could do”.
We were expecting you to think a bit more about the championship, taking less risks maybe.
“It’s too early for that, we are just into the 3rd event and still have four to go, so I just want to win races. Everybody can still be a title contender at this stage, so winning is the best thing you can do to keep your rivals at bay”.
Losing a win for a mistake is always disappointing, but until the pit-stop your race had been perfect…
“The start was good, but in the first few laps I was struggling a bit in putting heat into the tyres and Campana was making a lot of pressure from behind. Anyway the situation improved lap after lap, I started building a gap and the race was looking good.
Then the pit-stop came and I made a mistake and stalled the car, there isn’t much more to say.
A win, with Quaife-Hobbs third, would have been good for the Championship…
“As Adrian said, at this stage it’s not that much about the championship, basically you just want to win races, that’s what we’re here for. Anyway it’s still a third place, a good podium finish, so I don’t want to think too much about it. I’m gonna take the positives from today: we were really quick, we have a good potential and we still have another race to try and make the most of it”.
source: Auto GP, autogp.org
SIROTKIN & SPAVONE RACE TO POINTS FINISHES AT MARRAKECH
Today’s Auto GP race on the thrilling Marrakech street circuit provided close and spectacular racing and points finishes for both Euronova drivers.
However finishing in the points was not what pole sitter Sergey Sirotkin had in mind when he lined up on the front row of the grid for the 19 lap race. A rare mistake from the Russian driver, who is a member of the Lukoil Driver Development programme, saw him make a slow getaway when the lights changed and he slotted into 9th place as the field streamed into the first chicane. Unfazed, Sirotkin was quickly past Ricci and then De Jong before losing out to both of them on lap 3 when he went off line to avoid a spinning Regalia. Sirotkin pitted at the end of lap 5 and came out behind Cunha who he quickly put behind him before chasing down a three second gap to De Jong. Sirotkin dispatched the Dutch driver on lap 12 to move into 6th place but the remaining laps were not enough for him to catch Ricci in 5th.
Antonio Spavone started from eleventh on the grid and in the chaos of the opening lap slipped down to 14th but a combination of good strategy and his fast race pace allowed the Italian to climb through the field to an 8th placed finish. Spavone chose to stay out on track when the other drivers started entering the pits for their obligatory tyre changes and was able to push hard to make up time. At the end of lap 6 Spavone was in 4th place and battling with Serenelli for 3rd. Their entertaining fight saw them racing wheel to wheel along the fast straights and lasted until Serenelli pitted leaving Spavone in 3rd with Championship leader Quiafe-Hobbs behind him. As the two scrapped the Euronova driver braked too late and cut the chicane earning himself a drive through penalty which he took on the lap immediately after his pitstop. When he rejoined there were 7 laps remaining and he was in 10th place with a 10 second gap to Serenelli. It took Spavone four laps to catch Serenelli and pass him and a lap later he sliced his way past Cunha as well. The seventeen year old took the chequered flag in 8th place after a fine race which, but for the drive-through penalty, would have seen him in contention for a place on the podium.
Race 2 will be live on Eurosport tomorrow at 1515 cet. Spavone will start from the pole with Sirotkin immediately behind him on the second row.
Auto GP Round 3 – Marrakech Race One
Adrian continued his fine run of form by finishing on the podium again today and thus extended his championship lead with second place.
With a high probability of an early safety car the first lap was surprisingly trouble free and Adrian made it up to third, with Victor struggling to get of the line. Both Super Nova cars planned to pit early but unfortunately Victor did not make it to the pit window with a race-ending spin on the third lap. After his pit stop Adrian pushed to try to get a jump on the race leaders and were it not for losing time in traffic, this was looking possible. After a fantastic battle with Campana towards the end of the race Adrian had to settle for second at the flag with not enough power boosts remaining to get past.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs – P2
“After being hindered by the red flags in qualifying we knew we would have the pace to fight for the win in the race today. I made a good start and got up to third but we still decided to stick to our strategy of pitting early. After a good pit stop I pushed in clean air for a few laps before coming across some slower cars which, for me, is where the race was defined. I caught Spavone who decided to use some unusual defensive techniques, which not only cost me a lot of time but also nearly ended my race. After this we quickly caught Campana after he pitted and I spent the last laps of the race trying to find a way past him to win the race. Unfortunately he had more power boosts remaining at the end as I was forced to use so many getting past the slower cars and every time I got along side him he could come back past me. Anyway, today was good for our championship and we will see what we can do from seventh on the grid tomorrow.”
Victor Guerin – DNF
“There is not much to say today as my race was very short. I didn’t have a very good start and got caught up amongst the slower cars, then started pushing to make up some time. I felt that my tyres had come in and the grip was very good but then I made a mistake, spinning at the first corner and unfortunately the car stalled. Tomorrow will be difficult but I am sure we can still get some points as we did last time in Valencia.”
David Sears – Team Principal
“What a race today in Marrakech – Adrian drove superbly once again and took his fifth Auto GP podium in a row, narrowly missing out on the win. He made a great start and then drove an intellegent race after the pit stop to conserve his tyres and have enough left to attack Campana at the end of the race. It was then a fair fight between the two with Adrian giving his all and we can’t ask any more than that.
Victor’s race was over quite quickly. After a poor start he was pushing to make up the lost time and positions and made a mistake at turn one which ended his race. There is still a good opportunity tomorrow for him to score some points.”