CLICK: Full GP3 race 1 results from Hockenheim
After claiming his first GP3 pole position earlier in the day, ART's Marvin Kirchhöfer converted that to a polished start in Saturday's race 1 at Hockenheim that duly led on to a lights-to-flag maiden series victory for the 20-year-old German at his home event.
It wouldn't be fair or accurate to suggest that Kirchhöfer had it easy, however, as he had championship leader Alex Lynn (Carlin) dogging him for the entire 18 lap race probing for any sign of weakness in the scorching conditions that were causing higher-than-expected rates of tyre degradation for everyone.
Behind the lead duo, Status GP's Nick Yelloly held on to third place into turn 1 but lost it to Carlin's Emil Bernstorff moments later through the opening sequence of corners. Also on the move on the first lap was Koiranen GP's Jimmy Eriksson, who had started from tenth place as a result of a five-place grid penalty for causing an accident at Silverstone. He was able to weave through the pack to gain several positions, but then ended up in a tussle with Jenzer Motorsport's Matheo Tuscher and then damaged his front wing running into the back of Dean Stoneman's Marussia Manor Racing car which blunted his progress for the rest of the race, which saw him finish in sevenths place.
The first retirement of the race came on lap 2 when Alfonso Celis Jr's Status GP car was briefly thrown into the air by tyre-on-tyre contact with the Marussia Manor Racing car of Ryan Cullen at the turn 6 hairpin. The incident wrecked Celis' rear right suspension and he was forced to park by the track, but Cullen was able to run to the end of the race. The race stewards blamed Celis for the incident and handed him a three-place grid penalty for Sunday's race. The only other official retirement of the way was Carmen Jordà, whose Koiranen GP ran straight into the gravel on lap 8 leaving her beached and unable to continue.
The top four continued to lead without any major dramas: Lynn tried to close the gap on Kirchhöfer but the German handled him with aplomb every time. Lynn himself was under some pressure from Bernstorff until his team mate ran wide at turn 1 on lap 12 which eased the tension. Bernstorff was still in no danger of losing third to Yelloly, who remained comfortably far ahead of ART's Dino Zamparelli.
Further back, Stoneman finally managed to pass Tuscher after a hard fought battle that lasted for over a lap. That seemed to break the Swiss driver's resolve - or more accurately, seared his tyres down to the canvas - and Tuscher was then easily passed by the likes of Eriksson, Richie Stanaway (Status GP), Riccardo Agostini (Hilmer Motorsport) and Jann Mardenborough (Arden) over the next few laps. Tuscher finally ran wide into the gravel in his desperation to fend off Mardenborough.
With Stoneman released to hunt down and overtake Zamparelli for fifth place on the final lap, Agostini was desperate to follow him down the road and in the process ended up making side contact with Stanaway that left the Status GP with damaged steering, leaving him limping home to the finish in a disappointing 13th place. A flat tyre put Patrick Kujala (Marussia Manor Racing) out of the race at the hairpin two laps from the end, all of which helped Mardenborough move up to eighth place at the flag behind Eriksson. That meant the Arden racer would be starting from pole position for Sunday's second race under the reverse grid rules.
When the chequered flag came out, Kirchhöfer was able to celebrate a famous home win after a perfect, error-free drive. He was joined on the podium by Lynn and Bernstorff, just two of the five Britons who followed Kirchhöfer across the finish line on Saturday afternoon.
With Lynn finishing five places ahead of his main championship rival Eriksson, the Carlin driver extends his lead in the battle for the title to 20 points. Meanwhile Kirchhöfer moves up to third place in the standings on the back of his maiden GP3 race win. In the team championship, Carlin now have 181 points compared with 118 for Status GP and 113 for ART.
See full GP3 race 1 results from Hockenheim