Niederhauser overcomes rain to win in Germany
22 July 2012 – Jenzer Motorsport’s Patric Niederhauser coped best with the appalling Hockenheim conditions to seal the first GP3 win of the weekend in Germany. This came after a Safety Car start and initial red flag in the early stages of the race.
After qualifying was run in the dry, the heavens opened upon the Hockenheimring as the drivers were sat on the grid and it was strategic calls that were going to decide this race. With a mad dash on the grid whilst mechanics rushed to change tyres, pole man and local fans favourite Daniel Abt decided to start on Slicks as did Series leader Mitch Evans. As the formation lap began, monsoon style rain engulfed the circuit and the race was started behind the Safety Car.
The drivers who had started in slicks all made their way into the pits to change to wets which included Abt, Evans, Antonio Felix Da Costa, David Fumanelli and Silverstone Race 2 winner William Buller. At this point Conor Daly held the lead of the race ahead of Niederhauser and Kevin Ceccon. Evans and Felix Da Costa who had both lost places due to pit stops were down in P17 and P18 at this stage. The red flag was brought out due to the conditions and the drivers waited on the start/line grid for around 15 minutes while the sunshine reappeared and racing could get underway.
Robert Visoiu and Alex Brundle both received ten second stop/go penalties as their wheels had not been fitted on the grid three minutes before the race commenced. The race resumed behind the Safety Car and on Lap 8 the action began. Niederhauser was the man on the move as he weighed up Daly’s Lotus GP car and the two raced wheel to wheel through the spray. The Swiss driver grabbed his opportunity and passed the American on the inside to take the lead of the race. Ceccon remained in third with Trident Racing’s newcomer Giovanni Venturini in fourth. Felix Da Costa’s race was brought to an abrupt end with a damaged front left wheel after contact and the Portuguese driver finished in the gravel.
Aaro Vainio keen to make up points in the championship was all over the back of Matias Laine’s MW Arden whilst Tio Ellinas fought his way through from the back row of the grid to finish an eventual 11th and set the fastest lap but will not collect two points since he finished outside of the top ten. Series leader Evans also clawed his way through the pack to pick up valuable points.
When the chequered flag came out, Niederhauser celebrated his win and a large points haul which moves him up to third place in the standings and places him as the highest rookie. Daly was in second close behind, with Ceccon securing the final spot on the rostrum for Ocean Racing Technology. Venturini achieved his best result of his early GP3 career in P4, ahead of Laine, Vainio, Tamas Pal Kiss, Abt, Evans and Buller.
Reverse pole tomorrow goes to Abt, which may be of some consolation to the German after starting from pole today and having hopes for a win in front of his fans. Evans still leads the drivers’ standings but the points advantage have been cut to just five over Vainio. Lotus GP control the teams’ standings over MW Arden.
Race 2 begins at 9:25am on Sunday