Melker wins season-opener at Istanbul Park
7 May 2011 – Nigel Melker kicked off his second campaign in GP3 in the best possible fashion by sealing victory during the opening race of the season at Istanbul Park on Saturday. The 20-year old from Barendrecht stole the lead on the first lap and went on to take the chequered flag ahead of Andrea Caldarelli and pole-sitter Tom Dillmann.
Melker had qualified in fifth place during Friday’s qualifying session, but the Dutchman was able to take advantage of grid penalties for Alexander Sims and Lewis Williamson. Dillmann was slow off the line when the race got underway and slipped back to third position behind Caldarelli and Melker.
By the end of the first lap Melker was in the lead, finding his way past Caldarelli at Turn 12. As the race reached its halfway point, there was a safety car period for a clash between Leonardo Cordeiro and Williamson leading to both men retiring, with their cars picking up substantial damage in the incident.
Melker was able to stay calm at the restart and build a small lead over second place man Caldarelli. The top three remained unchanged at the end of the race, with Melker eventually winning by a margin of 0.605 seconds. Valtteri Bottas was next up in fourth, ahead of António Félix da Costa and 16-year-old Mitch Evans.
Michael Christensen secured seventh in the second of the three RSC Mücke Motorsport cars, while Alexander Sims was the quickest British representative just over a second behind. The top ten was completed by two of the Addax machines, with Dean Smith leading home team-mate Gabriel Chaves.
Sunday's Race 2 begins at 10:25am local time (BST +2)