AutoGP Race 1: Quaife-Hobbs from flag to flag

After pole he was the favourite for today, and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs didn’t disappoint his fans winning the first race of the 2012 Auto GP World Series leading the pack from flag to flag.

The SuperNova driver had a good start, while on the other side of the front row Sergey Sirotkin stalled his car and, luckily, was avoided by the whole group with no contacts.

Into the first corner Quaife-Hobbs was followed by Sergio Campana: the Italian didn’t have the best possible start but then managed to overtake Pål Varhaug and Chris Van der Drift at the “Prima Variante” braking zone. The lead pack kept running in this order until lap 4, when Van der Drift lost his car in the Parabolica corner and went through the gravel trap, rejoining in P8. After that the fight for the podium was a matter between three drivers, with Quaife-Hobbs leading with a 1”5 gap on Campana and Varhaug following very closely in third place with the Virtuosi UK car.

The mandatory pit-stop didn’t change the order, even if Quaife-Hobbs had to fight a bit to overtake Sirotkin, who was one lap down and had just exited the pits for his tyre change. The SuperNova driver lost some time, but once he passed Sergey he quickly extended his gap on Campana again, crossing the line in first place with no worries. The Italian of MLR71 was second on the track, but after the race he was given a 1’ penalty together with his team mate Michele La Rosa. That happened because while the teams were instructed to make a compulsory rear tyre change during the mandatory pitstop, MLR 71 changed just the front tyres of both drivers.

As a consequence Campana dropped to P10, and Varhaug was promoted to 2nd place, making the most of a very consistent race for him and newcomers Virtuosi UK. Daniel de Jong, meanwhile, inherited third place, a deserved prize for a very aggressive race that saw him recover from P10. In the first part of the race Daniel was involved in a great fight with Facu Regalia for fifth place, passing his rival through the Parabolica; Regalia got his place back with a great move at the first chicane, but then at the pit-stop de Jong finally got the upper hand. The Argentinian of Campos Racing clinched a good 4th place, with a 10” advantage on Van der Drift, who recovered to P5 after his mistake earlier in the race. Giacomo Ricci was sixth after fighting for the whole race with Max Snegirev and Antonio Spavone, while Giancarlo Serenelli finished 9th ahead of the penalized Campana.

Adderly Fong and Victor Guerin were both hampered by race contact that forced them to a lenghty stop to change the front wing, while Sirotkin ended in P14 after losing one lap to get his car going again. It’s worth to highlight that after rejoining the Russian showed a stunning pace and posted the fastest lap with a 1’36”3 that was quicker than yesterday’s pole position.

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs: “Starting from pole surely is an advantage, but it doesn’t mean that you get an easy race. It was my first start on such an heavy and powerful car so the first braking with cold tyres was a bit tricky. Anyway I wanted to push very hard right from the start to immediately break the tow, as I know that this is a key to success in Monza, and that’s what I did. It did work, but then I again had the same gearbox glitch as yesterday and part of my lead was gone. I was able to control the race anyway, and even the pit-stop, which was the first of my career, was really smooth, so I couldn’t ask for more”.

Pål Varhaug: “At the start Sirotkin stalled right in front of me so I had to steer a lot to avoid him. Despite that I managed a good start, but at the first braking I didn’t close the door on the inside and Campana passed, and that was a little mistake. In the race I was third and pretty close to the front duo, but then after the pit-stop I struggled a bit in getting temperature back in the tyres, and lost some ground. I still have to get used to the car and the Kumhos, so this podium is a great result already”.

Daniel de Jong: “Obviously getting a podium finish because another driver has been penalized doesn’t get you the same feeling of a ‘real’ one, but even when I was 4th I was already very satisfied of my race. I had a good start and managed to get the inside, there’s where you want to be at the first chicane in Monza. The figh with Regalia was fun as the whole race, as the car felt really great, so quick that it allowed me to recover from P10. Now I hope that Race 2 will be as good”.

Monza, Race 1

1 Adrian QUAIFE-HOBBS SuperNova International, 14 laps in 23’36”782 2 Pål VARHAUG Virtuosi UK +4.880 3 Daniel DE JONG Manor MP Motorsport +11.480 4 Facundo REGALIA Campos Racing +13.444 5 Chris VAN DER DRIFT Manor MP Motorsport +22.896 6 Giacomo RICCI Zele Racing +27.137 7 Max SNEGIREV Campos Racing +28.245 8 Antonio SPAVONE Euronova Racing +32.073 9 Giancarlo SERENELLI Ombra Racing +40.862 10 Sergio CAMPANA MLR 71 +1.01.499 11 Giuseppe CIPRIANI Campos Racing +1.27.688 12 Michele LA ROSA MLR 71 +1.54.340 13 Adderly FONG Ombra Racing +1 LAP 14 Sergey SIROTKIN Euronova Racing +1 LAP 15 Victor GUERIN SuperNova International +2 LAPS

Fastest lap Lap 12 by Sergey SIROTKIN, Euronova Racing, in 1:36.389, avg 216.36km/h

Drivers Standings: 1. Quaife-Hobbs 26 punti; 2. Varhaug 18; 3. De Jong 15; 4. Regalia 12; 5. Van der Drift 10; 6. Ricci 8; 7. Snegirev 6; 8. Spavone 4; 9. Serenelli 2; 10. Campana e Sirotkin 1.

Under 21 Standings: 1. Quaife-Hobbs 26; 2. Varhaug 18; 3. De Jong 15; 4. Regalia 12; 5. Spavone 10; 6. Sirotkin 9; 7. Guerin 6.

Team Standings: 1. SuperNova International 26; 2. Manor Mp Motorsport 25; 3. Virtuosi UK e Campos Racing 18; 5. Zele Racing 8; 6. Euronova Racing 5; 7. Ombra Racing 2; 8. MLR71 1.