CLICK: Full GP3 race 2 results from Hockenheim
Arden's Jann Mardenborough put pole position to good use and was able to resist early pressure from ART's Dino Zamparelli to build up a comprehensive margin of victory by the chequered flag, while Jimmy Eriksson's hopes of regaining the momentum in his championship battle with Alex Lynn were somewhat blunted.
Conditions at Hockenheim on Sunday morning could hardly have been more in contrast: gone were the blistering hot conditions of Saturday, and instead of wall-to-wall sunshine there were now clouds and a very light rain fall damping down the 2.842-mile, 17-turn circuit after earlier overnight rain had eased off. It meant that the track was much cooler and also washed clean of the rubber that had built up over the race weekend so far: the drivers were very much facing the unknown.
Under reverse grid rules, pole for race 2 went to Mardenborough with Koiranen GP's Eriksson starting alongside him and intent to clawing back some of the points advantage that championship leader Alex Lynn (Carlin) had opened up the previous day by finishing in second place in race 1. When the lights went out after a long hold, it was Mardenborough who got the best launch from the grid while Eriksson was overpowered by Zamparelli for second place.
Lynn meanwhile initially lost a spot to Saturday race winner Marvin Kirchhofer, but then put his head down and put in a series of tough-minded move to work his way quickly up to fourth place right behind Eriksson. The Swede ran wide in the second run through the turn 6 hairpin, but Lynn had to back off and resist the temptation to pass as yellows were out for the retrieval of Pal Varhaug's Jenzer Motorsport machine after the Norwegian had spun following contact with Sebastian Balthasar (Hilmer Motorsport).
Mardenborough had Zamparelli all over him but was able to resist the pressure, responding well with new fastest laps of the race to start pulling out a three second lead as the race progressed. Eriksson had steadied the ship after his misstep and was providing Lynn with no openings, while behind them there was building pressure from the likes of Nick Yelloly (Status GP), Emil Bernstorff (Carlin), Dean Stoneman (Marussia Manor Racing) and Kirchoffer who had made no forward progress from his eighth place starting position.
The frustration perhaps took its toll on the German, and on lap 7 a rash move by Kirchoffer down the inside of turn 6 saw him spear into the side of Bernstorff, spinning the Carlin around across the line of traffic. Both cars limped back to pit lane, but their day at the races were over, while their places in the points-paying top eight were taken up by Patric Niederhauser (Arden International) and Richie Stanaway (Status GP) running just ahead of Arden's Robert Visoiu who had been able to gain a hard-fought place from Hilmer's Riccardo Agostini.
Despite evil-looking rain clouds camping all around the perimeter of the circuit, the rain held off for the remaining laps meaning that there was no upset for the leaders. The only change in position in the top eight in the final six laps of the 18-lap race was Stoneman passing Yelloly for fifth place after the Status GP car started to lose rear end grip, making it an easy target. Yelloly did well to hold off Niederhauser who was lurking behind him waiting for any new opportunity to get around.
But there was no question about the winner, with 22-year-old Mardenborough comfortably ahead of Zamparelli as he crossed the finish line to claim his first GP3 win for Arden (indeed, his first podium finish in the series) by almost four seconds. He and Zamparelli were joined on the podium by Eriksson, but the Swede's pleasure was doubtless tempered by the knowledge that he had been able to make much impression on Lynn's championship lead, the Carlin man now 18 points clear of Eriksson heading into next week's round at Hungary.
See full GP3 race 2 results from Hockenheim