GP3: Varhaug storms to victory in Barcelona
8 May 2010
Jenzer Motorsport driver Pal Varhaug pulled away from the rest of the field at Circuit de Catalunya to take a historic victory in the first ever GP3 Series race.
The young Norwegian led from start to finish, managing race-long pressure from Status' Robert Wickens and snatching a win that restores Jenzer to the forefront of international motorsport.
After difficult conditions during morning qualifying, the race proved to be a different story. When the lights went out, track temperature was 33 degrees and the sun was shining brightly, but the first-ever GP3 Series start still included a couple of casualties. Canadian Daniel Morad flew across the grid but, unfortunately for the rest of the field, the Status GP car was sideways, and a slow starting polesitter Nigel Melker ended up a casualty of the carnage. By the end of the first lap, both were in pits, as Varhaug took the lead.
Esteban Gutierrez also had a storming start and, by the end of the first lap, had moved up from seventh to third and, from then on, spent a frustrating 15 laps behind Wickens, who was busy trying to reduce the gap between him and Varhaug. The Canadian put in a strong performance to hold off the charging Mexican and, despite the ART driver's best efforts, wouldn't yield, so Gutierrez had to settle for third.
By the end of lap four, there were more wounded, as Michael Christensen and Felipe Guimaraes had a tussle that prematurely ended both the MW Arden and Addax Team drivers' races, and a feisty Josef Newgarden and Pablo Sanchez Lopez also touched, putting each other out of the remainder of the race.
The top three, meanwhile, were status quo, with Varhaug holding his own at the front of the field to take the victory by 1.563secs ahead of Wickens and Gutierrez.
In fourth place, Carlin's Dean Smith had a relatively lonely race, coming home 3.276secs ahead of GP3 latecomer Jean-Eric Vergne, running with Tech 1 Racing. Simon Trummer, meanwhile, couldn't match his race winning team-mate, but still finished in a strong sixth spot.
Further down the field, Alexander Rossi, who started at the back of the grid, put in an impressive performance, making his way up into 15th by the end of the first lap and pushing thereafter to eventually finish eighth behind Carlin's Lucas Foresti and claim pole position on the partly-reversed Sunday race grid.