“I’m confident about my chances considering my third place in standings”
The British-based racer, who started from the pole thanks to the top-8 reverse grid format from Race 1, scored his maiden victory by edging Vittorio Ghirelli (Super Nova International) and Kimiya Sato (Euronova Racing). The Italian fought back from 9th place on the grid as he stayed fast and consistent, setting the best lap of the day en-route to a result that handed him the lead in the Under 21 standings. Sato drove a recovery race too as he made it back to third, reclaiming the overall championship’s lead with 66 points. His positive streak is now up to four straight podium finish.
Robert Visoiu (Ghinzani Motorsprt) recovered several positions too to secure 4th while Max Snegirev (Virtuosi UK) rounded out the top-5 in what turned out to be his best position this season. The Russian who had retired in Race 1, made it back from the rear to top 6th-placed Meindert van Buuren (MP Motorsport). It’s been a tough day for Andrea Roda, who was fighting for the front but was assessed a drive-through penalty for a contact with Antonio Spavone (Super Nova International) settling for 7th.
Several other major names were also forced to retire. A 4-car contact put out of contention both the Ibizia Racing Team drivers, Race 1 winner Sergio Campana and Giuseppe Cipriani, plus Riccardo Agostini (MP Motorsport). A safety-car condition was required to clean up the track on lap 3 pushing early-stopper Spavone to top. Following the contact with Roda, Bacheta was then able to power away while another first-lap tangle involved Narain Karthikeyan (Zele Racing) and Daniel De Jong (MP Motorsport), depriving them of a chance for a podium finish.
The next round for the 2013 Auto GP series is scheduled at Budapest on the 4th and 5th of May.
Luciano Bacheta (Zele Racing): “I took the lead at the start and held it until the pit-stops came. At the re-start I tried to stay out of trouble and recover the ground lost in the pits and this is how I handed my team their first win of the season. The car was great, we had a balanced set-up and I’m confident about my chances for the next few rounds considering my third place in standings”.
Vittorio Ghirelli (Super Nova International): “I started from the back due to a penalty on Race 1, but I was able to keep a good pace a I avoided the incidents in front. In the closing stages I also completed some good passes that enabled me to score such a great result. Having the fastest lap of the race is a further proof of how well the team performed”.
Kimiya Sato (Euronova Racing): “I scored four podiums on four races and I got back to the front in standings. I haven’t been quick at the start, but I recovered some important spots and was back in the top pack. I’m confident I will be relying on a car that will enable me to repeat these great results”.
source: Auto GP, autogp.org
SASAHARA IN THE POINTS AGAIN IN RACE 2 AT VALLELUNGA
Ukyo Sasahara finished in 8th place again at Vallelunga today completing a fine weekend which saw him finish in the points in his first two single-seater races.
Sasahara started race 2 from 10th on the grid, Ramsay from 21st and Amado from 34th. The 25 minute race was aborted after just one and a half laps due to a mid-field accident. A great shame for the Euronova boys who had all made great starts; Ramsay had gained 5 places over the course of the first lap and Amado had moved up an astounding 10 places.
The race was re-started over a shorter period of 19 minutes. When the lights changed Sasahara maintained 10th place but half way round the first lap Ramsay was pushed off the track by another car.
His Formula Renault jumped over the grass and he was forced to return to the pits to replace his nose, losing a lap in the process. He rejoined and his pace showed that had he not had to pit he would easily have been once again among the front runners.
As the race continued Sasahara maintained his 10th spot and set about challenging Capitano ahead of him whilst Amado battled his way up through the field from 34th on the grid. When Bonifacio and De Vries clashed in the closing stages of the race Sasahara moved up to 8th place, an excellent result for the 16 year old debutant. Amado meanwhile had climbed up to 23rd place by the time the chequered flag fell.
The Formula Renault Alps Championship continues at Imola next month but the team will be in action again next week, testing at Misano.
DOUBLE PODIUM FOR SATO AT MARRAKECH KEEPS HIM AT THE TOP
Japan’s Kimiya Sato repeated yesterday’s success with a second podium finish in today’s Auto GP race at Marrakech. The race was as dramatic as race 1 but for different reasons providing the large crowd with another fantastic spectacle.
Sato started from 6th on the grid and team-mate Yoshitaka Kuroda from 11th. Both made good starts and avoided the first lap tussles which caught out yesterday’s winner Campana and ex F1 driver Karthikeyan. At the end of lap 1 Sato had moved up to 4th place and Kuroda was in 9th. A safety car period at the end of lap 4 meant that all the drivers, with the exception of Roda, Spavone and Snegeriv, filed in to the pits to change tyres.
At the end of the 4 lap safety car period Sato was running in 6th and Kuroda in 8th. A mistake by race leader Spavone moved them both up a position and with 6 laps left to go the top 7 cars were covered by less than 6 seconds.
Visoiu was the next driver to succumb to the pressure of such tight racing on the tricky Marrakech street circuit and a mistake from the Romanian moved Sato into 4th place and Kuroda into 6th. At the end of lap 15 they benefited from Roda’s pit stop and Sato moved into the podium zone. On the penultimate lap Kuroda ran into trouble, exiting in the second sector, but he had done enough to be classified in 8th place earning himself further championship points. Sato went on to claim 3rd place, less than three seconds behind race winner Bacheta, a result which ensures that he leaves Marrakech once more at the top of the drivers’ championship.
The Auto GP Championship resumes in May at Budapest.
Super Nova Marrakech Race Report
Auto GP Round Two in Marrakech proved to be a tough weekend for the Super Nova team but with taking home a decent points haul, there are a number of positives to take to the next event in Budapest, including another podium for Vittorio and a good performance by Antonio which saw him leading race two on merit.
With a very busy stewards office after race one, the results could have been very different but it was one key factor that affected the results the most. Euronova driver Sato was adjudged to have made his pit stop on the final lap of the race and, following some mistakes made on this subject in Monza, was penalized with a one minute time penalty. The team decided to race under appeal, demoting Vittorio from the reverse grid pole to 9th position and Antonio back to his finishing position of 5th. Antonio’s result could have easily been a podium but again the stewards were lenient with a severe blocking maneuver by Agostini when he rejoined the track in front of Antonio.
If their appeal is unsuccessful then Sato will lose all points from Marrakech, leaving Super Nova at the top of the teams’ championship.
“Race one was not bad, I did I good start and lost no positions and then the pace was good and the pit stop fast. Starting P8 and finishing P5 is ok, considering the time I lost with Agostini when he blocked me off whilst rejoining the track.
Race two was a good start from 4th and I decided to make my pit stop before the safety car meaning that I was P1 after all the other cars stopped. I think my restart was quite good, gaining time from second, but I slowed for a yellow flag in turn one and Roda got in my slipstream. Then at the braking point for turn 4 my right rear tyre got caught up with him and I hit the wall, destroying my race.
Anyway the weekend was quite positive and I made a good step to improve my driving and concentration, which should put me in good shape for Budapest.”
“It was a hard weekend. First race I was P5/P6 and then we had a problem in the pit stop and we lost a lot of time. Then I caught back up to P7 from P11 which was a good result considering. Then they decided to penalise me two seconds for a yellow flag infringement. This meant that I should have started on pole due to a penalty issued to Sato for stopping on the final lap of the race but they decided to appeal and I had to start race two from P9.
In the second race I had a difficult start / first corner as two people crashed in front of me and I paid attention to avoid any incident. I then made some good passes and gained positions to finish in second, which was a good result after the start of the weekend.
For Budapest we have to focus to make sure qualifying is good so that we have the chance to score highly in both races.”
Round 3 takes place in Budapest on 4/5th May
Manor MP Motorsport – De Jong Takes Podium On AUTO GP Return
Daniël De Jong produced a headline-grabbing performance on his return to AUTO GP at Marrakech street circuit in Morocco over the weekend, 6th/7th April, by claiming a fantastic second place finish for Manor MP Motorsport in the first of the event’s two races.
Marking the Dutchman’s first competitive outing in the category since last season, having been forced to miss the championship opener a fortnight ago due to a clash with his commitments in the GP2 Series, he wasted no time in showing the pace which brought him several podiums in 2012. Only damage to his suspension in race two prevented De Jong from celebrating double podium success.
Joining team-mates Riccardo Agostini and Meindert van Buuren, all three Manor MP Motorsport drivers began the event well during free practice on Saturday – the first running of the weekend due to the cancellation of testing on Friday, 5th April, because of torrential rain and flooding.
Category rookie Agostini, who starred at Monza two weeks ago with pole position on his debut, wasn’t all that far away from repeating the result by posting an excellent third fastest time in qualifying – a mere 0.172 seconds away from the top spot. He was closely followed by De Jong with the fourth quickest lap while van Buuren, the least experienced of the trio, was 11th fastest.
At the beginning of round three on Saturday afternoon, in much improved weather compared to Friday, Agostini fought his way through into second position with De Jong holding fourth and van Buuren moving up well into ninth. Unfortunately for promising youngster Meindert though, his race was run before the end of the opening lap when he retired to the pits with clutch problems.
Back on track, Agostini had slipped to third and he and De Jong ran nose-to-tail during the early stages until Romania’s Robert Visoiu managed to split them. Then, on lap seven, a spin for Agostini while pushing hard led to him glancing the barriers with his rear wing.
Going on to immediately make his mandatory pit-stop, and have the car checked over, he rejoined in 10th place and mounted a superb recovery to battle back into fourth at the finish. He also posted the second fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m28.682 seconds, just 0.2 seconds shy of former FIA Formula One World Championship driver Narain Karthikeyan’s best.
De Jong, re-adapting superbly to AUTO GP from his GP2 car, moved into fourth after Agostini’s moment and held the place until his stop on lap 13. Great work by the Manor MP Motorsport crew got the Dutch ace back out in fifth and he moved into the podium placings three laps from the end before taking second on the last lap.
His result came after a tense build-up to the race when a puncture was discovered on one of the soft compound Kumho tyres he had chosen to run with. The team therefore switched his car onto super-soft tyres before the race got underway.
“Saturday was really good for us, some great results and it was fantastic to see Daniël on the podium on his first weekend back in AUTO GP”, said team principal Sander Dorsman, “It wasn’t easy though, just before the start there was a puncture with one of the tyres – it picked up a staple in the paddock – which meant we had to make a late change to our strategy.
“We wanted to run the soft tyres but the puncture meant we had to go with super-soft, so we had to manage that change in strategy but he looked after the tyres really well. We made a good pit-stop and finishing second was a great result.”
Dorsman added: “Riccardo was really quick again this weekend, he’s done a great job here like he did at Monza. Fourth in the first race was a strong result but it could be third as there is an appeal going on about [Kimiya] Sato making his pit-stop when the window had closed. We have to wait and see what happens with that.”
In round four on Sunday, van Buuren was the sole Manor MP Motorsport finisher after Agostini and De Jong both hit trouble. Slow starts for Andrea Roda and Karthikeyan, from second and third on the grid, bunched-up the cars behind and Agostini was caught-up in the ensuing chaos and sent into retirement. De Jong departed the race too on the opening lap, sustaining suspension damage.
Dutch teenager van Buuren wasn’t free from trouble, he tangled with La Rosa on lap 10 of the race, but the category rookie recovered strongly and raced to a very well deserved sixth place finish to continue his strong start to the 2013 AUTO GP season.
“Meindert has been great in Marrakech, he did a fantastic job, was fast and was just a bit unlucky really”, reflected team principal Dorsman, “Depending what happens with the result and the appeal, he could even be fifth – he’s definitely had a strong weekend in terms of his pace and performance.”
Hungary will be the next stop on the 2013 AUTO GP calendar, four weeks from now, when rounds five and six of the season take place at the world-famous Hungaroring on 4th/5th May.
2013 AUTO GP Driver Standings (after Rd4):
6th Riccardo Agostini, 27pts; 9th Daniël De Jong, 18pts; 12th Meindert van Buuren, 7pts
2013 AUTO GP ‘Under 21’ Standings (after Rd4):
3rd Riccardo Agostini, 27pts; 5th Daniël De Jong, 18pts
2013 AUTO GP Team Standings (after Rd4):
5th Manor MP Motorsport, 52pts