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Esteban Ocon dominates on GP3 debut

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
Photo: Zak Mauger / GP3 Series Media Service

Photo: Zak Mauger / GP3 Series Media Service

Esteban Ocon proved unstoppable in the opening race of the 2015 GP3 season at Catalunya, converting second place on the grid into a comfortable win.

Off the line, Ocon managed a sublime start and, with poleman Luca Ghiotto somewhat bogging d0wn, the ART Grand Prix driver was well in the clear in turn one.

His advantage over the rest would only increase over the next few corners, eventually rising to a massive 2.5s in just two laps.

Ghiotto could subsequently make up little ground under green flag conditions, but a comfortable cruise to victory for Ocon was interrupted by a safety car midway through the race.

Newcomers Ralph Boschung and Seb Morris had come together, their cars stranded on the side of the track and requiring a rather lengthy stoppage.

But Ocon’s lost lead was of little consequence as a superb restart by the reigning FIA F3 champion left Ghiotto with little chance to catch up.

With Ocon dominating out front, the Italian was set for a comfortable maiden podium in second, but came under pressure from Emil Bernstorff as he started to struggle with tyrewear.

But he held on, leaving Bernstorff to settle for a podium on his Arden debut.

Jann Mardenborough had restarted ninth but made five overtakes in the closing stages, weaving in and out around traffic with other drivers struggling with tyrewear.

He passed ART’s Alfonso Celis with two laps to go, the Mexican having run the whole race in fourth before his tyres dropped off at the end and sent him out of the points.

Another ART man Marvin Kirchhofer claimed fifth, ahead of Jimmy Eriksson and Kevin Ceccon, the duo having managed their tyres well and making up lots of ground in the end of the race.

Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco, who had started 21st after taking to the gravel in qualifying, recovered to claim reverse-grid pole in eighth, with Status duo of Alex Fontana and Sandy Stuvik completing the top ten.

UPDATE: Sandy Stuvik was handed a ten-second penalty for overtaking under safety car and has relinquished in the final point in favor of Alfonso Celis.

Race results
Pos. Driver Team Time/Gap
1 Esteban Ocon ART Grand Prix 22 laps in 39:27.125
2 Luca Ghiotto Trident +3.368
3 Emil Bernstorff Arden International +3.509
4 Jann Mardenborough Carlin +14.456
5 Marvin Kirchhofer ART Grand Prix +18.771
6 Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen GP +22.621
7 Kevin Ceccon Arden International +23.386
8 Antonio Fuoco Carlin +23.919
9 Alex Fontana Status Grand Prix +25.532
10 Alfonso Celis ART Grand Prix +30.304
11 Zaid Ashkanani Campos Racing +30.383
12 Alex Palou Campos Racing +30.529
13 Matt Parry Koiranen GP +30.680
14 Matheo Tuscher Jenzer Motorsport +32.026
15 Artur Janosz Trident +32.555
16 Oscar Tunjo Trident +34.642
17 Adderly Fong Koiranen GP +35.972
18 Sandy Stuvik Status Grand Prix +36.967**
19 Alex Bosak Arden International +40.274*
20 Samin Gomez Campos Racing +46.219**
21 Pal Varhaug Jenzer Motorsport +51.827
22 Mitch Gilbert Carlin +1 lap
Not classified
Ralph Boschung Jenzer Motorsport +12 laps
Seb Morris Status Grand Prix +12 laps