CLICK: Full GP3 race 2 results from Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
A terrific start off the second row of the grid meant that Marussia Manor Racing's Dean Stoneman went into the first chicane wheel-to-wheel with Carlin's Alex Lynn, and the pair were inseparable from there to the finish of the 17-lap race on Sunday morning at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Although thwarted into the first chicane, Lynn came close to snatching the lead around the outside of Cuva Grande but Stoneman held on and once again succeeded in repulsing the attack. The battle continued for the next three laps until finally Lynn appeared to have the upper hand with a better run through the Parabolica to take the lead down the start/finish straight only for Stoneman to out-brake him into the second chicane and reclaim the lead.
This titanic battle gave Emil Bernstorff the opportunity to briefly inject himself into the battle at Lesmo, but Lynn took a dim view of this and immediately responded to put his Carlin team mate firmly in his place. The lead pair soon pulled away again from Bernstorff who soon had his hands full with Marvin Kirchhöfer, who eventually succeeded in applying enough pressure that Bernstorff made an error on the exit of Lesmo on lap 10 that allowed the ART to get through for third place.
Despite having started from pole position, Jenzer Motorsport's Matheo Tuscher day had immediately gone into reverse. Passed by Stoneman, Lynn and Bernstorff into the first corner, the final straw for the Swiss driver was being passed by his fellow front row sitter Patrick Kujala on lap 5. Fighting back, Tuscher made contact with the back of the Marussia Manor Racing though Roggia, spinning Kujala out into retirement and sending himself to pit lane with damage that meant he was unable to resume.
Alfonso Celis Jr was the next man to retire from the race two laps later, his Status GP car grinding to a halt after taking a sustained battering jumping over kerbs at the second chicane. It proved to be a bad potent for the team, with Richie Stanaway also pulling over with an apparent loss of power three laps from the end, with huge significance for his championship battle with Lynn. Stanaway was joined on the sidelines at Roggia by Jann Mardenborough, who'd had an exciting morning of racing before the Arden finally called it quits.
With his sights set formly on the title battle, Lynn meanwhile continued to be all over the back of Stoneman and was rarely more than half a second off the leader. However Stoneman wasn't about to be pressured into any mistakes and he remained rock-solid to the chequered flag, by which time Lynn had conceded the inevitable and backed off a touch to ensure he came away with the crucial points for second place.
Kirchhöfer held on to the final podium position although he was never able to really pull away to safety from Bernstorff. Nick Yelloly was fifth in the sole surviving Status GP ahead of Jenzer Motorsport's Kevin Ceccon who had battled his way up the hard way from 12th place on the grid.
The final points positions were the subject of a fierce late-race scrap which saw Carlin's Luis Sa Silva line up a pass on the waning Zamparelli for seventh. He finally managed it on the final lap at Roggia, and when Zamparelli tried to hang tough the Marussia Manor car was sent rattling over the kerbs and was lucky not to hit anyone or anything as the Briton battled it back into submission.
The drama did allow Alex Fontana (ART) and race 1 winner Jimmy Eriksson (Koiranen GP) to get past, Eriksson seeking to recover from a poor start to the race that had left him down in 12th place for much of the morning. Determined to wrest the final points-paying position from Fontana, Erikson finally pulled it off going through Ascari with Fontana also getting re-passed by the recovering Zamparelli for ninth place by the time the chequered flag.
All in all it had been one of the most exciting GP3 races of the season and definite proof that the cars are more than capable of some exciting racing and thrilling overtaking moves when the circuit is right, the conditions ideal and drivers sufficiently motivated.
In terms of the GP3 Series championship battle, Lynn now has 173 points, putting his lead over Stanaway up to 50 points with just two weekends remaining in the 2014 season, with Eriksson now eight points further back from the New Zealander in third ahead of Bernstorff and Kirchhöfer. In the team standings, Carlin are now on 290 points with ART on 228 and Status GP close behind on 225.
The next GP3 race is in a month's time at the new Sochi International Street Circuit in Russia.
See full GP3 race 2 results from Autodromo Nazionale Monza.