Van der Drift pips Sirotkin to Marrakech Race 2 win
15.04.2012: Chris Van der Drift is the second “king” of the Marrakech Auto GP weekend, after winning today’s race 2
Chris Van der Drift is the second “king” of the Marrakech Auto GP weekend, after winning today’s race 2 with a stunning performance. In a season that already saw 5 different winners in 6 rounds, the Kiwi driver bagged the first success for him and MP Motorsport thanks to both a masterful drive and a very good job by his pit-wall staff.
Chris, together with his team-mate Daniel de Jong, was the only driver to start on a full set of new soft tyres and so opted for a very late pit-stop strategy that was the key to success.
At the beginning of the race, tough, it was Sergey Sirotkin who took the lead with an amazing start that allowed him to go past de Jong and then pass team-mate Antonio Spavone on the outside of Turn 1. The Russian driver of Euronova started pushing as hard as he could and at the end of lap 2 his gap on the followers was already 4” wide.
Behind those two the start was action packed, with de Jong getting off the line slowly and being overtaken by Van der Drift for P3. The Dutchman of MP Motorsport managed to get his position back with a great move at the third chicane, but immediately after he locked-up his front wheels at the hairpin and crashed into Spavone’s rear, bringing the race of both to an early end.
At the end of lap 3 the order was Sirotkin, Van der Drift, Ricci, Campana, Varhaug, Quaife-Hobbs, with Serenelli running in seventh place after a great start from P11 on the grid.
Lap 4 saw the first pit-stops from Varhaug, Quaife-Hobbs and Serenelli, with Campana and Ricci coming in for their tyre change one lap later. Giacomo managed to keep his position, but behind him Campana exited the pits right ahead of Varhaug: the Norwegian driver of Virtuosi UK outbraked him on the outside of Turn 1 to take fourth, with Quaife-Hobbs also closing the gap on the Race 1 Winner. In a very good moment of his race, Varhaug then started catching Ricci, and passed his rival for third place at the last chicane with a bold outside move on lap 8.
On lap 11 the pack catched Michele La Rosa, who still had to pit: Varhaug passed him at the last chicane, followed by Ricci at the hairpin. Campana tried a late braking to enter the same gap but his team-mate didn’t understand his intentions and closed the door, ending in a crash that took both MLR71 cars out of the race.
In the meantime at the front the fight for the win was hotter than ever: Sirotkin pitted on lap 12 when he had a 4”8 lead on Van der Drift, while the kiwi driver made the most of his new tyres to stay out on track as long as he could: in doing so, the MP Motorsport driver pulled a sequence of very fast laps on the 1’29” pace that allowed him to stretch his lead on Sergey to 27” before lap 16, a gap that was enough to keep the lead when he finally entered the pits for his mandatory tyre change.
In the very last lap Sirotkin got really close but wasn’t in the condition to try a move, and so the pair crossed the line with no changes in the order, with Van der Drift giving MP Motorsport their first Auto GP win.
Behind them the duel for third position was a close one as well, with Varhaug, Ricci and Quaife-Hobbs packed in less than 1”. The Italian tried to pass Varhaug on lap 18, but he had to back-off and Quaife-Hobbs made the most of it with a good outside move at Turn 3. The Briton of SuperNova started making a lot of pressure on Pål and at the last chicane of the last lap he eventually got on the inside, trying to get third place.
They both braked as late as possible but their manoeuver ended with a chicane cut for Varhaug and a bad exit from the corner for Quaife-Hobbs, who was then passed by Ricci. Varhaug crossed the line in third place ahead of Ricci and Quaife-Hobbs, but after the race he was handed a 25” penaly for cutting the chicane, hence being demoted to P7.
So Ricci got the last podium spot, ahead of Quaife-Hobbs and Victor Guerin. The Brazilian drove a very aggressive race after the pit-stop, even crashing into Serenelli after losing the car under heavy braking. The venezuelan’s race was ruined, but Guerin managed to get away with just a broken front wing and crossed the line in fifth place.
Brazilian Yann Cunha was the last driver to pit and ended sixth after a very consistent performance, while Dracone, Cipriani and Regalia closed the top ten. The Argentinian of Campos Racing drove a good race but was delayed by an issue with the right rear tyre at the pit-stop.
Marrakech, Race 2, 15 April 2012
1 Chris VAN DER DRIFT Manor MP Motorsport 19 laps in 29:10.823,avg 177.56 kph
2 Sergey SIROTKIN Euronova Racing +0.651
3 Giacomo RICCI Zele Racing +19.943
4 Adrian QUAIFE-HOBBS Supernova International +20.597
5 Victor GUERIN Supernova International +27.791
6 Yann CUNHA Ombra Racing +39.774
7 Pal VARHAUG Virtuosi UK +44.552
8 Francesco DRACONE Virtuosi UK +59.733
9 Giuseppe CIPRIANI Campos Racing +59.932
10 Facu REGALIA Campos Racing +1:06.262
11 Giancarlo SERENELLI Ombra Racing +1 LAP
12 Michele LA ROSA MLR 71 +9 LAPS
13 Sergio CAMPANA MLR 71 +9 LAPS
NC Antonio SPAVONE Euronova Racing
NC Daniel DE JONG Manor MP Motorsport
NC Max SNEGIREV Campos Racing
FASTEST LAP Lap 12 by Sergey SIROTKIN in 1:29.223, avg 183.38kph
Auto GP Round 3 - Marrakech Race One
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