Giovinazzi takes a slippery Spa victory…
Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) bagged an important win at a very wet Spa-Francorchamps this morning, the Italian racer led from start to finish with Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough his lone challenger in the final 30-minute race that supports the annual 24 Hours of Spa event. Sun Zheng made it three wins out of three in the National Class, the Chinese driver mastered the tricky wet conditions to finish fifteen seconds ahead of West-Tec’s Jordan Oon.
Following earlier thunderstorms across the Ardennes forest, the race got underway on time and Giovinazzi drove impeccably throughout in his Double R Dallara. The Italian led following a lightning quick start, he then drove cautiously as he attempted to avoid the treacherous standing water that littered the 4.352 mile circuit, but after four laps Giovinazzi had built a lead over Mardenborough, who was himself a quick starter off the grid.
Mardenborough made the most of his second row starting position and passed team-mate Nicholas Latifi for second through Eau Rouge, the scene of their race one incident yesterday. The Cardiff-based racer then set about chasing after his Double R rival, reducing the gap to just 0.7s before a costly spin at Les Fagnes extended the gap to over five seconds. Mardenborough rejoined with no damage to his car, and then hotly pursued Giovinazzi, reducing the gap to just 2.5s at the flag.
Behind the leaders, Latifi yielded to team-mate Jordan King’s advances at Eau Rouge on the penultimate lap, enabling his British rival to score a vital fifteen championship points and claim the final spot on the podium.
Fortec’s Felipe Guimaraes finished fifth, his best result of the weekend, after a quiet race. The Brazilian closed to within 1.4s of Latifi by the end of the race and had a comfortable eight second gap to sixth placed Tatiana Calderon’s Double R Racing Dallara.
Championship leader, Will Buller had a miserable race, the Fortec man was handed a drive-through penalty after his team were reported to have been working on the car on the grid after the 30-second board had been shown. Buller pitted at the end of lap one to take his penalty, but conditions prevented his move up the order, the County Down racer finishing seventh after half an hour of racing.
Sean Gelael finished eighth, the final finisher in the International Class. The Indonesian driver crossed the line a handful of seconds off Buller’s Fortec, but did post the fastest lap on his final tour of the epic Belgian circuit, a 2:38.385.
There was yet another strong wet-race performance from CF Racing’s, Sun Zheng, who got amongst the International Class runners early on, enjoying a particularly good scrap with Guimaraes. Zheng was again a convincing winner, the Chinese racer had a perfect weekend, fastest in every session.
In recognition of his efforts, Zheng was made the Mobil Service Centre Driver of the Weekend. The trophy recognises a supreme showing at a race weekend by an entrant, and the 21-year-old’s results made it an easy choice for the panel.
Try as they might Team West-Tec’s Jordan Oon and Chris Vlok were unable to produce the pace of the CF Racing man, finishing second and third respectively at the line.
After the flag had fallen Giovinazzi slowed as he crossed the line and Mardenborough clipped the left rear wheel of the Double R Dallara, damaging both cars. Post-race Stewards determined the incident was the Carlin’s driver fault and handed him a five place grid penalty for the next race at Brands Hatch.
Buller’s lead (96 points) of the four-round series has been reduced to 21 points following King’s podium, and Giovinazzi (73 points) is now just two points off King (75 points), making it all to play for between Fortec, Carlin and Double R. Mardenborough’s second podium of the season sees the Carlin driver jump team-mate Latifi in the standings.
In the National Class, Zheng now has a commanding 44 point lead over West-Tec’s Ed Jones, the Emirati driver was unable to race in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend but returns in a fortnight at round three at the famous Kent track.
Antonio Giovinazzi, Double R Racing – Dallara Mercedes (1st in INT)
“The car felt really fast yesterday, so I knew we would be okay today too. On the warm-up lap I thought it felt good and I had a good start and got to the first corner in the lead. After a few laps I got more relaxed and kept my driving smooth. To get a full race win is fantastic and I think this closes up things in the points now which is good, it’s nice to head to Brands Hatch with a win.”
Jann Mardenborough, Carlin – Dallara – Volkswagen (2nd in INT)
“My start was pretty good, I did get a bit of wheelspin though. I followed Giovinazzi through La Source and then found myself alongside Nicholas in Eau Rouge again and he let me through this time. I did make a mistake, I was probably pushing too hard I wanted the win so much. I caught up with him again and as I crossed the line there was a wall of spray and then I saw his car. It was my mistake, but it’s nice to have a podium and the team have been great all weekend and they did an incredible job yesterday to get me out again.”
Jordan King, Carlin – Dallara – Volkswagen (3rd in INT)
“My start wasn’t great, which put me into the pack which isn’t where you want to be. The first few laps when visibility was better I managed to get past a few cars, then it chucked it down and with all the spray it was really hard. It was tough being stuck behind Nic, but I managed to pressurise him just enough to get by. I think we’ll be strong at Brands too, so hopefully we can close the gap to Will there too.”
Sun Zheng, CF Racing – Dallara – NBE (1st in NAT)
“It was an okay race. The beginning was difficult to hold my pace amongst the International cars, they had better grip, but I tried to hold on. Three wins is a great result though and we couldn’t have asked for anymore.”