Kirchhofer claims first win
German rookie Marvin Kirchhöfer claimed a flag to flag GP3 victory in Race 1 at Hockenheim, after having celebrated his maiden pole position in the qualifying. ART Grand Prix driver finished ahead of the Carlin duo of Alex Lynn and Emil Bernstorff and produced his career best result at his home track.
Kirchhöfer embraced the pressure as pole-sitter and made a strong start to maintain the lead. Lynn followed the German, with Bernstorff stealing a place off Nick Yelloly early on in lap one. Series contender Jimmy Eriksson – who had a five place grid penalty – found himself in the middle of the pack and made light contact with Matheo Tuscher, but both drivers were able to continue. It was an early finish for Alfonso Celis. Jr after it appeared he had been tagged from behind from the Marussia Manor Racing car of Ryan Cullen.
Meanwhile Kirchhöfer held a small margin of 1.2s over Lynn at the beginning of proceedings but the Red Bull Junior driver began to reel him in and cut down the gap to under a second, with the top three glued together. Dean Stoneman found himself going forward, making an excellent start up to P6 and he was embroiled in a titanic tussle with Tuscher.
Bernstorff ran wide at the midway point of the race, losing a small amount of time to Lynn and nearer the clutches of Yelloly in P4. Tuscher began to struggle with his tyres and Eriksson and Richie Stanaway took advantage of the Swiss rookie to move up the order. The battle was on for P8 and the elusive reverse pole for Race 2 and Riccardo Agostini put the pressure on Stanaway. The pair made contact but both were able to continue with the Italian sneaking past the Kiwi.
Kirchhöfer held a commanding lead at the front and edged out the gap to over three seconds. On the final lap Stoneman grabbed P5 after overtaking Dino Zamparelli. After a calm and controlled race, Kirchhöfer crossed the line to record his first win in his rookie GP3 season, ahead of Lynn who pocketed further vital points in his quest for the championship. Bernstorff posted another rostrum finish ahead of Yelloly, Stoneman, Zamparelli, Eriksson, Jann Mardenborough, Agostini and Robert Visoiu. Romanian driver Visoiu scored his first point of the 2014.
Lynn has extended his Series lead to 20 points over Eriksson, whilst new race winner Kirchhöfer moves up to third place in the Drivers’ Standings. Carlin have increased their margin at the head of the Teams’ Standings too, the British squad have 181 points, with Status Grand Prix and ART Grand Prix on 118 and 113 respectively.
Mardenborough will start tomorrow’s GP3 Race 2 from reverse pole – the race action kicks off at 09.25 am with tyre degradation key to how the race will progress.